Human health, communities and infrastructure

Key drivers
Temperature
Sea-level rise
Erosion
What is already happening?

In both Mediterranean OTs, there is concern about the effects of climate change on human health, coastal communities, and infrastructure. However, a lack of studies and available data for both OTs makes it difficult to assess the likely nature and scale of impacts. 

Increases in some nuisance species (those that pose risks to human health and/or have economic impacts) have been linked to climate change in the Mediterranean. Jellyfish and other nuisance species such as the macroalgae, Rugulopteyrx okamurae, are known to clog industrial intakes. This is of particular concern in Gibraltar, which is reliant on desalination plants for drinking water. 

There is also evidence for increased societal impacts from these nuisance species, as Rugulopteyrx okamurae accumulates on beaches and jellyfish blooms affect bathing waters. Increasing number of jellyfish blooms have been also observed in Cyprus due to climate change as well as local increases in nutrients.

Fishery resources are expected to be affected throughout the Mediterranean in many direct (distribution, reproduction, abundance, size) and indirect ways (market uncertainty, variation in prices). In the area around the SBAs, nuisance species such as pufferfishes, the striped eel catfish, and the nomad jellyfish strongly interfere with or alter fishery activities by damaging gears and fishery catches.

 

CONFIDENCE LEVEL
LOW

Low evidence, high agreement

For Gibraltar, there is high agreement on the potential for impact to coastal assets by sea-level rise but evidence is limited. For the SBAA, there is high agreement on the potential for impact to coastal assets by sea-level rise but evidence is limited. There is however, consensus on the potential for the degradation or loss of ecosystem services associated with marine habitats with significant economic impacts on fisheries, tourism and infrastructure; the mortality of Posidonia being a key example.

For Gibraltar, there is high agreement on the potential for impact to coastal assets by sea-level rise but evidence is limited. For the SBAA, there is high agreement on the potential for impact to coastal assets by sea-level rise but evidence is limited. There is however, consensus on the potential for the degradation or loss of ecosystem services associated with marine habitats with significant economic impacts on fisheries, tourism and infrastructure; the mortality of Posidonia being a key example.  

What could happen

The expected increase in abundance and biomass of non-indigenous nuisance species of Indo-Pacific origin will exacerbate effects on fisheries, tourism and other industries. Venomous and poisonous species are likely to increase in abundance, posing an additional threat to sea users and consumers. 

The effects of sea level rise on flooding and coastal erosion may impact on coastal infrastructure and roads on the Mediterranean OTs. Climate change risk assessments for the SBAs have identified loss of assets due to sea level rise (including natural assets such as beaches and marine ecosystems) as an issue of concern. The low lying Akrotiri Salt Lake and peninsular are likely to be where impacts of climate change will be most apparent, especially to civil and military infrastructure and with important socio-economic implications for local communities. In Gibraltar, coastal defence and flood protection cost £12 million between 2012-2019. It is likely that the costs associated with coastal works will increase in future depending on the extent of sea-level rise.  

The degradation or loss of ecosystem services associated with marine habitats could have significant economic impacts on fisheries, tourism and, infrastructure. Services attributed to Posidonia seagrass beds are a key example for the SBAs.
 

CONFIDENCE LEVEL
LOW

Low evidence, high agreement

For Gibraltar, there is high agreement on the potential for impact to coastal assets by sea-level rise but evidence is limited. For the SBAA, there is high agreement on the potential for impact to coastal assets by sea-level rise but evidence is limited. There is however, consensus on the potential for the degradation or loss of ecosystem services associated with marine habitats with significant economic impacts on fisheries, tourism and infrastructure; the mortality of Posidonia being a key example.

For Gibraltar, there is high agreement on the potential for impact to coastal assets by sea-level rise but evidence is limited. For the SBAA, there is high agreement on the potential for impact to coastal assets by sea-level rise but evidence is limited. There is however, consensus on the potential for the degradation or loss of ecosystem services associated with marine habitats with significant economic impacts on fisheries, tourism and infrastructure; the mortality of Posidonia being a key example.