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Societal Impact

A wide range of economically important marine and coastal industries are being affected by climate change, with impacts on food availability, infrastructure, seasonal operating windows and the movement of goods. Coastal erosion, flooding, sea-level rise and potential changes in storminess present multiple risks to UK industries and coastal communities. 

Climate change also presents risks to human health and wellbeing, such as physical impacts through flooding and disease and wider sociocultural effects such as the loss of heritage sites and changes in tourism and recreation. 

Climate change impacts on industry and society and their responses to these drivers is modulated by wider external factors such as government policies, economic fluctuations, demographic changes and societal values.

Wider impact hubs can be accessed via:

Climate change impacts, coupled with historical overexploitation, has led to declines in fish stocks of some commercial species, including cod, herring, whiting and sprat. Ocean acidification may result in declines in shellfish.
There have been no major changes or geographical shifts in species farmed in the UK, but climate change may increase problems with invasive species, fish gill diseases, and pathogens and more heatwaves may increase mortality.
Climate change could affect the distribution of harmful algae, increase the risk of human infection from Vibrio species and lead to increased Norovirus loading of bathing and shellfish waters.
Without appropriate action, projected increases in extreme sea levels will lead to a greater coastal flood risk. By the 2080s, annual damages from coastal flooding could more than double under high estimates of sea-level rise.
Sea level rise is increasing flood and erosion risk to critical coastal assets (e.g. energy, transport and water) and marine infrastructure and operations may be increasingly affected by severe weather in the future
Climate change presents both risks and opportunities for coastal tourism and recreation (e.g. risks from flooding and coastal erosion, as well as opportunities for increasing visitor numbers with a warmer, extended summer season).
Historic assets located in the coastal zone will be subjected to enhanced rates of erosion, increased flooding and changes in weathering patterns as a direct result of climate change. Submerged sites will be adversely affected by changes in ocean pH, temperature and circulation patterns.