Ove Hoegh-Guldberg (biologist)

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Ove Hoegh-Guldberg
Born (1959-09-26) 26 September 1959 (age 59)
Alma mater
Known for
  • Director of Global Change Institute at the University of Queensland
  • Co-author of the IPCC October 8, 2018 Special Report on Global Warming 1.5ºC
  • Chief Scientist Advisor for Chasing Coral, a Netflix Documentary
Scientific career
  • marine biology
  • coral reefs
  • climate change
InstitutionsUniversity of Queensland
ThesisThe effect of sudden changes in temperature, light and salinity on the population density and export of zooxanthellae from the reef corals Stylophora pistillata Esper and Seriatopora hystrix Dana (1989)

Ove Hoegh-Guldberg (born 26 September 1959, in Sydney, Australia), is a biologist and climate scientist specialising in coral reefs, in particular bleaching due to global warming and climate change. He has published over 500 journal articles and been cited over 50,000 times.

He is the inaugural Director of the Global Change Institute at the University of Queensland, and the holder of a Queensland Smart State Premier fellowship (2008–2013). Hoegh-Guldberg has appeared on television, including two Australian Story series profiling his life and work, and radio, and throughout his career has been an active science communicator, including writing a blog and articles for The Conversation and other media outlets.

Hoegh-Guldberg was a contributor to the influential IPCC October 8, 2018 Special Report on Global Warming of 1.5 °C, and was a Coordinating Lead Author of the Chapter 3 of the report.

Early life and study[edit]

Hoegh-Guldberg is of Danish ancestry and is a direct descendant and namesake of Ove Høegh-Guldberg, a politician in late 18th Century Denmark. From an early age he wanted to be a scientist, saying "Diver Dan was a great inspiration". He first visited the Great Barrier Reef with his Danish grandfather and grandmother to collect butterflies for the Danish museum.[1] He graduated from the University of Sydney with a Bachelor of Science (Hons), and received a scholarship to Oxford University. Before starting he met Professor Leonard Muscatine, a world expert in corals[2] in Los Angeles and changed his plans, sleeping on the floor of the lab to learn from Muscatine,[3] then completing his PhD at UCLA. His PhD thesis focused upon the physiology of corals and their zooxanthellae under thermal stress.[4]


In 1994, Hoegh-Guldberg published a paper[5] using data from CSIRO and Germany predicting that most corals will not survive the next century, and the Great Barrier Reef will die in 20–30 years. His evaluation was poorly received at the time, most experts finding fault with his long term predictions. Since then, however, reefs globally have undergone significant bleaching since then,[6] the latest studies documenting an 89% decline in new corals in the Great Barrier Reef compared to historical levels.[7] As of July 2019, he is an author in 521 journal articles, and has been cited 54,532 times.[8] He is currently a Professor of Marine Studies at the University of Queensland.[9] In 2010, Hoegh-Guldberg was appointed as the inaugural Director of the Global Change Institute,[10] a collaborative research hub aimed to address the impacts of climate change.

In 2017, Hoegh-Guldberg was one of the Chief Scientific Advisors to the Netflix documentary Chasing Coral.[11] Following this, alongside the CEO of The Ocean Agency Richard Vevers, he started the 50 Reefs initiative to identify a number of reefs globally that have the best chance to survive the impacts of climate change and subsequentially repopulate neighboring reefs.[12] After releasing a study in March 2018 identifying 50 reefs,[13] the group was funded in large part by an $86 million contribution from Bloomberg Philanthropies.[14]

On October 8, 2018, the International Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) released the Special Report on Global Warming of 1.5 °C, of which one of the findings was that we may have less than 12 years to avoid a temperature rise of over 1.5 °C.[15] Hoegh-Guldberg was one of many Australian authors of the report, and was a Coordinating Lead Author on Chapter 3: Impacts of 1.5 °C of Global Warming on Natural and Human Systems. In an interview with UQ News, he said "A key finding of the report is that 1.5°C is not a safe level of global warming; however it is much safer than 2.0 °C", and that "We are still going to see many challenges at 1.5°C".[16] The IPCC report has been used as justification for climate action movements, including by Greta Thunberg.[17]

In the media[edit]

Ove Hoegh-Guldberg has been featured in the media throughout his career, including two segments on Australian Story, The Heat Of The Moment (2009)[18] and Into Hot Water (2017),[19] and an interview on NPR's All Things Considered.[20] He maintained a blog called Climate Shifts from 2007 to 2014[21] and has written articles for not-for-profit media outlet The Conversation.[22][23]

Hoegh-Guldberg has received criticism from some climate deniers in the media, notably conservative columnist Andrew Bolt at the Herald Sun. Bolt has published a number of columns against Hoegh-Guldberg's predictions.[24][25] Hoegh-Guldberg wrote an article in response in 2011 countering these claims, saying Bolt has made fundamental scientific errors and is deliberately ignoring evidence."[26] Another rebuttal of a Bolt blog post was published in 2011, saying "What is more surprising is the numerous occasions that Mr. Bolt engaged in false attributions and misrepresented qualifiers. One would expect as a fully-paid member of the chattering class that he would at least have a better level of reading comprehension than what was displayed. These mistakes can either be attributed to political partisanship or poor journalism. In either case it certainly reduces the trustworthiness of Mr. Bolt."[27] The scientific consensus on coral reef bleaching and the effect of climate change is overwhelming,[28][29][30] and studies with evidence to the contrary have been found to be flawed.[31]

In March 2019, Hoegh-Guldberg was named one of the world's top 100 most influential people in climate policy by Apolitical, joining natural historian David Attenborough, Greta Thunberg, former United States of America vice-president Al Gore and many others.[32]

Personal life[edit]

Ove Hoegh-Guldberg is married to Dr Sophie Dove, and has two children, Chris and Fiona. Dove, who he met in 1983 in Los Angeles, has an undergraduate degree in Mathematics and Philosophy from the University of Edinburgh, a PhD in Biological Sciences from University of Sydney, and is now an associate professor at the University of Queensland, also specialising in coral reefs and the impacts of climate change.[33]

Hoegh-Guldberg has worked with David Attenborough, who described him saying "It’s easy enough to imagine the ostrich-like capacity of any of us, when we see something we don’t like to stick our head in the sand… Well, Ove doesn’t do that."[34]



  • UCLA Distinguished Scholar Award (1988)
  • Robert D. Lasiewski Award, UCLA (1989)
  • Sydney University Award for Excellence in Teaching (1996)
  • The Eureka Prize for Scientific Research (1999)
  • Wesley College (University of Sydney) Medal (2009)
  • Queensland 2008 Smart State Premier's Fellow (2008–2013)[35]
  • Australian Laureate Fellowship (2012)[36]
  • Banksia International Award (2016)[37]


  1. ^ Latham, Rebecca. "Into Hot Water". Australian Story. ABC. Retrieved 11 July 2019.
  2. ^ "Leonard Muscatine". Napa Valley Register. Retrieved 11 July 2019.
  3. ^ "The Heat Of The Moment". Australian Story. ABC. Retrieved 17 July 2019.
  4. ^ Hoegh-Guldberg, Ove; Smith, Jason G. "The effect of sudden changes in temperature, light and salinity on the population density and export of zooxanthellae from the reef corals Stylophora pistillata Esper and Seriatopora hystrix Dana". doi:10.1016/0022-0981(89)90109-3. Missing or empty |url= (help)
  5. ^ Hoegh-Guldberg, Ove. "Mass-bleaching of coral reefs in French Polynesia". Researchgate.net. Retrieved 11 July 2019.
  6. ^ Parker, Laura; Welch, Craig. "Coral Reefs Could Be Gone in 30 Years". National Geographic. Retrieved 20 July 2019.
  7. ^ Cox, Lisa. "Great Barrier Reef suffers 89% collapse in new coral after bleaching events". The Guardian. Retrieved 11 July 2019.
  8. ^ "Ove Hoegh-Guldberg Google Scholar page". Google Scholar. Retrieved 11 July 2019.
  9. ^ "Professor Ove Hoegh-Guldberg". The University of Queensland. Retrieved 11 July 2019.
  10. ^ "GCI Staff". Global Change Institute. Retrieved 11 July 2019.
  11. ^ "The Team". Chasing Coral. Retrieved 17 July 2019.
  12. ^ "50 REEFS INITIATIVE: A HUGE WIN FOR CORAL REEF CONSERVATION". The Ocean Agency. Retrieved 17 July 2019.
  13. ^ Beyer, Hawthorne; Kennedy, Emma; Beger, Maria; Chen, Chaolun Allen; Cinner, Joshua; Darling, Emma; Eakin, C. Mark; Gates, Ruth; Heron, Scott; Knowlton, Nancy; Obura, David; Palumbi, Stephen; Possingham, Hugh; Puotinen, Marji; Runting, Rebecca; Skirving, William; Spalding, Mark; Wilson, Kerrie; Wood, Sally; Veron, John; Hoegh-Guldberg, Ove (2018). "Risk-sensitive planning for conserving coral reefs under rapidclimate change". Conservation Letters. 11 (6): e12587. doi:10.1111/conl.12587.
  14. ^ Summers, Hannah. "World's top fishing nations to be given millions to protect oceans". The Guardian. Retrieved 17 July 2019.
  15. ^ Watts, Jonathan. "We have 12 years to limit climate change catastrophe, warns UN". The Guardian. Retrieved 17 July 2019.
  16. ^ "UN climate change panel calls for rapid, far-reaching changes". UQ News. University of Queensland. Retrieved 17 July 2019.
  17. ^ Thunberg, Greta. "'Our house is on fire': Greta Thunberg, 16, urges leaders to act on climate". The Guardian. Retrieved 17 July 2019.
  18. ^ "The Heat Of The Moment". Australian Story. ABC. Retrieved 17 July 2019.
  19. ^ Latham, Rebecca. "Into Hot Water". Australian Story. ABC. Retrieved 17 July 2019.
  20. ^ "Scientists Study Changing Seas on Australian Island". All Things Considered. NPR. Retrieved 17 July 2019.
  21. ^ Hoegh-Guldberg, Ove. "Climate Shifts blog". Climate Shifts. Retrieved 17 July 2019.
  22. ^ Hoegh-Guldberg, Ove. "The Western Indian Ocean's blue economy can thrive. Here's how". The Conversation. Retrieved 17 July 2019.
  23. ^ "Ove Hoegh-Guldberg author page". The Conversation. Retrieved 17 July 2019.
  24. ^ Bolt, Andrew. "Swimming in a sea of disinformation over the Great Barrier Reef". Herald Sun. Retrieved 17 July 2019.
  25. ^ Bolt, Andrew. "Column - The 10 worst warming predictions". The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 18 July 2019.
  26. ^ Hoegh-Guldberg, Ove. "Drowning out the truth about the Great Barrier Reef". The Conversation. Retrieved 17 July 2019.
  27. ^ Lafayette, Lev. "Andrew Bolt on Climate Predictions". Isocracy. Retrieved 18 July 2019.
  28. ^ "The Scientific Consensus Statement". Reef 2050 Water Quality Improvement Plan. Queensland Government.
  29. ^ "The 97% consensus on global warming". Skeptical Science. Retrieved 17 July 2019.
  30. ^ "Scientific Consensus: Earth's Climate is Warming". NASA. Retrieved 17 July 2019.
  31. ^ Foley, Katherine Ellen. "Those 3% of scientific papers that deny climate change? A review found them all flawed". Quartz. Retrieved 17 July 2019.
  32. ^ "UQ scientist among 'world's most influential' in climate policy". UQ News. University of Queensland. Retrieved 17 July 2019.
  33. ^ "Associate Professor Sophie Dove". University of Queensland. Retrieved 17 July 2019.
  34. ^ "Quest to save the world's reefs". Great Barrier Reef Foundation. Retrieved 17 July 2019.
  35. ^ "Premier announces research winners". Queensland Government. Retrieved 17 July 2019.
  36. ^ "Fellowships awarded for studies of 'black swans' and climate change". UQ News. University of Queensland. Retrieved 17 July 2019.
  37. ^ "Banksia International Award". Banksia Foundation. Retrieved 17 July 2019.