The ecosystem linkages report card builds on the science of our Annual Report Cards to show how broader marine climate change impacts come together.
This report uses five topics, ranging from global to local scale issues, to demonstrate the linked relationships that you need to consider when planning for marine climate change.
By demonstrating these interactions in the marine environment, we can begin to understand why there is a need to take an 'ecosystem approach' to address the impacts of climate change at the coast and in our seas.
The information provided in the five topic spreads is just a brief summary drawn from detailed peer-reviewed documents. Full documents are aviable in each section.
How are the topics linked?
The acidification of our seas has been identified relatively recently as a major global issue, affecting the world's seas and oceans, with the Arctic being particularly vulnerable. It is tempting to assume that changes occurring in the Arctic as a result of climate change are not relevant to the UK but they have local scale impacts at a UK level. This happens through various mechanisms such as the general effect of rising sea levels due to melting ice, changes to north-east Atlantic food webs, and opening of Arctic sea routes, which all have implications for non-native species and coastal economies in the UK.
Within the broader framework of climatically driven change, significant effects are being observed in the ecology of the UK marine environment. Major changes to plankton communities are having knock-on effects to fish and birds. Species new to the UK are finding a more hospitable climate in which to establish and spread. All of this has major implications for our economy involving issues such as coastal defence, aquaculture, fishing and tourism. The links between the topics are shown in more detail through the rest of the report.
How does this ecosystem linkages report card link to MCCIP Annual Report Cards and how is it different?
Previous MCCIP report cards have explored a wide range of topics, highlighting key impacts for individual components of the marine environment (e.g. seabirds). This report brings together these individual components, looking at how changes in one part of the marine ecosystem impact upon others (e.g. how seabirds interact with all levels of the marine food web).
Other human pressures
Whilst the focus of this report is on climate change impacts, it is important to acknowledge the role of other pressures on the marine ecosystem. These pressures can combine with climate change to magnify impacts. These include:
Coastal infrastructure; Fishing; Leisure activities; Oil, gas and mineral extraction; Pollution; Renewables; Shipping.
Where particularly relevant, these other pressures are highlighted in this report.
The UK Government has set out a vision for 'clean, healthy, safe, productive and biologically diverse seas'. As climate change and ocean acidification take hold, understanding the impacts is a key element of knowing what to do to maintain a healthy marine environment. Understanding these impacts and what their knock-on effects may be will influence how we use and value our coasts and seas both now and in the future.