World Heritage-listed Shark Bay is highly vulnerable to climate change, a new assessment process has found. James Cook University scientists found Shark Bay’s unique environment was threatened by more frequent and intense storms, as well as air and water temperature change. The Shark Bay World Heritage Advisory Committee took the opportunity to pilot the new assessment process to fast-track an environmental risk assessment. The results will contribute to a science plan for Shark Bay being developed by the Western Australian Marine Science Institution. The institution’s research director Jenny Shaw said the assessment also considered the economic dependence of key business types on the property, the local population’s connection with the property, and the levels of adaptive capacity. “This assessment will form part of our review of the existing knowledge about Shark Bay and will help us to prioritise research in a comprehensive Science Plan,” Dr Shaw said. Located on Australia’s western-most tip, the 23,000sqkm Shark Bay is recognised as one of Australia’s four World Heritage “properties”, along with Uluru, Kakadu and the Great Barrier Reef. It is one of only four World Heritage marine properties. Associate Professor Scott Heron and Jon Day, from James Cook University, developed the climate vulnerability index assessment process to identify the environmental and socioeconomic vulnerability of World Heritage properties. “The CVI process showed the effects of climate change will have a high degree of impact on the Shark Bay community, both socially and economically,” Dr Heron said.