Exploring Ecosystem Linkages Report Card 2009
Understanding the links between climate change impacts on the oceans is a critical priority for our future wellbeing. By taking a new 'bigger picture' approach, we can start to show how the interconnected nature of the marine ecosystem magnifies the many discrete impacts of climate change, documented in the MCCIP Annual Report Cards.
To support this new approach, we asked five groups of leading scientific experts on issues such as ocean acidification, Arctic sea-ice loss, seabirds and food webs, non-native species, and coastal economies to give us their views.
The ecosystem linkages report card builds on the science of our Annual Report Cards to show how broader marine climate change impacts come together.
In the last 200 years, ocean acidity has increased by 30% and at a rate much faster than anytime in the last 65 million years. This has serious implications for marine ecosystems and climate regulation.
In the last decade there has been a 35% decrease in summer sea ice extent and a 15% reduction in winter sea ice, leading to changes in habitats and ecosystems.
Climate change has already caused changes in plankton, fish distribution and species composition in the seas around the UK. Declines in some seabird populations such as black-legged kittiwakes, terns and skuas may continue as a result.
Most introductions of non-native species have arrived via human intervention, intentional or otherwise. The likelihood that they will establish and flourish in the UK marine environment could be greater due to climate change.
Many of our coastal communities will face both challenges (e.g. increased flood and erosion risks, declining traditional fisheries) and opportunities (e.g. new tourism patterns, new fisheries) through climate change.
PHOTOS from top: Donna Roberts, iStockphoto.com/westphalia, Lorne Gill/SNH, Paul Newland/MarLIN, Davey Benson.