Climate changes brews trouble for marine life in European Seas, Marine Board-ESF report says

March 02, 2007

There is no denying that climate changes have profound impacts on the world and especially on the marine environment. Recent research has shown that the Northern Hemisphere has been warmer since 1980 than at any other time during the last two millenniums. As a result the increase in temperature under climate change was generally higher in northern than in southern European seas.

The latest European Science Foundation-Marine Board study report, "Impact of climate change on European marine and coastal environment - Ecosystem approach" shows how even moderate climate scenarios have caused marked consequences on the European marine environment.

The study has detailed the impact of climate change at a European Seas level - in the Arctic, the Barents Sea, the Nordic Seas, the Baltic, the North Sea, the Northeast Atlantic, in the Celtic-Biscay Shelf, the Iberia upwelling margin, the Mediterranean and the Black Sea.

Take the northern Arctic and Barents Seas for example the decline in sea ice cover there has triggered the most obvious temperature-related changes for marine life. The open systems structure of these seas has demonstrated how climate changes are causing further northward movement of marine organisms - Atlantic species are beginning to inhabit the more northern seas, the traditional preserve of Arctic species, and subtropical species are moving into southern waters where previously mainly temperate species existed.

In addition, the increased river runoff and subsequent freshening of the Baltic Sea have also led to shifts from marine to more brackish and even freshwater species while the temperature-induced loss of native species from enclosed systems, such as the Mediterranean and Black Sea, will enhance the introduction of non-native organisms, according to the study-report which is led by Dr. Katja Philippart from the Royal Netherlands Institute for Sea Research.

After taking in all of the recorded impacts on the European Seas for consideration, the ESF-Marine working group has identified other possible future challenges in terms of climate change monitoring, modelling, indicators and research and development. It has made several recommendations based on these challenges.

They are:
-end-
The study report, which started in 2005, was disclosed today at the annual Young Marine Scientist's Day event taking place at the Boeverbos venue in Bruges, Belgium, organised by the Flanders Marine Institute (VLIZ). At the event the report was formally handed over to Koen Verlaeckt, head of cabinet 'Science and Innovation' of Fientje Moerman, Vice-Minister President of the Flemish Government and Flemish Minister of Economy, Enterprise, Science, Innovation and Foreign Trade.

The European Science Foundation (ESF), with offices in Strasbourg and Brussels, is the European association of 75 major national research funding and performing organisations and academies in 30 countries devoted to excellence in scientific research. For more information, visit: www.esf.org

With it present memberships of 23 marine research organisations (institutes and agencies) from 16 countries, the Marine Board provides a unique forum to express the collective vision of how research can inform issues of societal concern. (www.esf.org/marine board)

The full report can be viewed and downloaded on: http://www.vliz.be/EN/INTRO and http://www.vliz.be/EN/INTRO&id=196

Contacts:

Marine Board - European science Foundation, Strasbourg,
+33. (0)3.88.76.71.66,
nwalter@esf.org

European Science Foundation

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