Seabirds face uncertain future

The impacts of marine climate change have been unveiled by a decade of scientific collaboration in the UK. The results are worrying for seabirds, but more positive for warm-water fish.

British seabirds face an uncertain future while warm-water fish species have become commonplace in UK waters.

These are the findings of a new report published by the UK Marine Climate Change Impacts Partnership (MCCIP), which has drawn on a decade of scientific research to show how climate change is affecting marine life.

A long-term underlying warming trend in sea-surface temperature is still clear, despite year-to-year fluctuations, according to a statement.

As a result, squid and anchovies have become more common place in UK waters. However, seabirds including fulmars, Atlantic puffins, little and Arctic terns and black legged kittiwakes are being impacted by these sea-surface temperature rises.

Among other issues, ocean acidification has become established as a major issue for marine ecosystems. According to the report card, it may be taking place at a faster rate in UK seas than in the wider north Atlantic.

Although high-water events are becoming more frequent at the coast due to sea-level rise, this has not led to an increase in coastal flooding due to continued improvements in flood defences, emergency planning, forecasting and warning.

The report card, which demonstrates the important effects climate change is having on UK seas and coastlines, builds on contributions from 400 scientists. The key findings have been recorded 10 years after the first MCCIP report card.

Head of Marine Evidence at UK nature conservation public body JNCC, Beth Stoker, said in the statement: “This eighth MCCIP report card brings together expertise from across marine and climate scientists in research institutes, industry and government to provide clear, evidence-based messages on the impacts of marine climate change to decision makers and the public.”

Photo credit: Tom Houslay/ CC BY-NC 2.0

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