- A 1,000-km northward shift of warmer-water plankton, with a
similar retreat of colder-water plankton, has been observed in the
north-east Atlantic over the past 50 years, as the seas around the
UK have become warmer.
- In the North Sea, the population of the previously
dominant and important cold-water zooplankton species Calanus
finmarchicus has declined in biomass by 70% since the
- The seasonal timing of plankton production has altered
in response to recent climate changes. Some species are occurring
up to four to six weeks earlier than 20 years ago, affecting
predators, including fish.
Continued increase in sea temperature, due to climate change and
associated changes such as ocean acidification, are likely to exert
major influences on plankton abundance and geographical
distributions, with implications for primary production and climate
Cefas; FRS; MBA
- Abundances of warm-water fish species (e.g. red mullet, John
Dory, triggerfish) have increased in UK waters during recent
decades, while many cold-water species have experienced
- There has been a notable influx of snake pipefish to UK
waters since 2004, and research is under way to explain
- Poor 'recruitment' of juvenile cod may be associated
with a climate-related shift in the composition of zooplankton, but
also by a reduction of the adult, parental population by
- In some parts of the southern North Sea, cold-water
species, such as cod and eelpout, have been shown to experience
metabolic stress during warm years, as evidenced by slower growth
rates and difficulties in supplying oxygen to body
- Climate change will have far-reaching impacts on the
dynamics of fish populations; however, current knowledge of
underlying mechanisms is limited.
- Much less is understood about the possible future
impacts of climate change on non-commercial fish species, compared
to those targeted by fisheries.
Sea Watch Foundation; SMRU; University of Aberdeen
- The impact of climate change on marine mammals (i.e.
seals and cetaceans) remains poorly understood.
- Range shifts have been observed in a number of cetacean
species, but at present it is not possible to differentiate between
short-term responses to regional resource variability and
longer-term ones driven by climate change.
- Marine mammals may suffer impacts from changes affecting the
food chain that supports them.
- Poor breeding success and reduced survival of black-legged
kittiwakes in recent years have been strongly linked to warmer
winters and changes to their fish prey populations (e.g. smaller,
less-nutritious sand eels, increased snake pipefish abundance).
Other seabird species may have been similarly affected.
- Some species will have difficulties in adapting to
changing prey availability.
- Long-term climate change will result in a northwards
shift in the range of some species and consequently a decline in UK
- Anticipated sea-level rise and a greater number of more severe
storms may reduce available breeding habitat for shoreline-nesting
species (e.g. terns) and wash away nests.
FRS; SAHFOS; University of Cambridge
- Future temperature increases could enable more species to
invade and become established, replacing current native
- Some warm-water invertebrates and algae show continued
increases in abundance and have extended their ranges around
northern Scotland and eastwards along the English Channel over the
last 20 years.
- The warm-water seaweed Bifurcaria bifurcata
has established a new range boundary at Portland Headland in the
last five years, 150 km east of previous records.
- Cold-water species (e.g. the acorn barnacle and
dabberlocks alga) have continued to decrease in abundance
throughout the period 2001-2007.
- Projected changes in sea level and storms may have
important indirect impacts, as more sea defences are required.
These act as artificial rocky shores allowing intertidal species to
unnaturally extend their range.
- Continued extension and retraction of ranges within the UK,
with rising temperatures of southern and northern species
- Some new species will become established, whilst others will
disappear from our shores.
FRS; Liverpool University
- Climatic processes influence the abundance and species
composition of seabed communities, directly affecting the
availability of food for bottom-feeding fish.
- Localised effects of fishing, causing habitat modification, and
of contaminants are also important and make it difficult to fully
assess the scale of the influence of climate change.
- Changes to sea temperature and/or food supply are
likely to continue to alter the ecological structure of the
University of Cambridge; University of Southampton
- Coastal habitats are being lost around the UK. In
England, it is estimated that at least 40-100 hectares of saltmarsh
is being lost every year; projects are under way to estimate rates
of loss in other regions.
- Coastal habitat loss will be accelerated by sea-level