Climate change is having a significant impact on the United Kingdom’s marine environment according to a new report. The Marine Climate Change Impacts Partnership report card 2007-08 highlights just how much climate change has affected the UK’s marine environment and what the future impacts may be.
Key findings from the report include:
- 2006 was the second warmest year for UK coastal waters since records began in 1870; seven of the 10 warmest years have been in the last decade.
- Warmer winters have been strongly linked to reduced breeding success and survival in some seabird populations.
- Models predict fewer storms in future but there will be increased numbers of severe storms.
- Coastal erosion and flooding is expected to increase.
- Marine climate change is having a significant impact on the marine environment and the goods and services it provides.
- Coastal erosion is occurring along 17 per cent of the UK coastline (30 per cent of England’s coastline; 23 per cent of Wales; 20 per cent of Northern Ireland; 12 per cent Scotland).
- Recent warmer conditions and associated shifts in the abundance and geographical distribution of plankton have led to reduced availability of prey fish for some seabirds, which has been strongly linked to recent poor breeding success and reduced survival rates.
- The impacts of climate change on the commercial services provided by our seas will be significant. Sea-level rise, coastal flooding, storms and bigger waves will affect ports, shipping and built structures. Fishing and fish farming will be affected by temperature change and plankton (prey) availability.
Cabinet Secretary for Rural Affairs and the Environment, Richard Lochhead, said:“Climate change, including marine climate change, is one of the most serious threats facing us today. It is a truly global issue and can only be tackled if we work together. Our seas play a vital role in regulating our climate and are a lifeline for the communities that live around them.
“Our winters are getting wetter and warmer, sea levels are rising and coastal erosion is increasing. Our marine wildlife is now having to cope with these as well as other pressures, and is beginning to suffer as a result. Our marine industries also have to cope with changes. These are happening now and we must take action."
The report was co-authored by scientists at the National Oceanography Centre, Southampton and was published January 16.
The above story is based on materials provided by National Oceanography Centre, University of Southampton. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.
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