Thursday, 28 November 2013

Marine Climate Change scorecards published today for Coastal Margin habitats and Seabirds

The Marine Climate Change Impacts Partnership (MCCIP) published its latest Report Card today (28 November 2013), providing its most comprehensive assessment yet of how climate change is affecting UK waters. CEH coastal ecologists Dr Laurence Jones, Mr Angus Garbutt and Dr Francis Daunt are authors of the scorecards for coastal margins and seabirds, documenting the recent scientific evidence for what will happen in coastal habitats and on seabird populations under climate change. The coastal margin habitats include sand dunes, saltmarsh, machair systems, shingle and maritime cliffs.

Sefton coast sand dunes, photo by Shutterstock
Sefton coast sand dunes

All the coastal margin habitats are vulnerable to a wide range of climate impacts. Highly species-rich dune wetlands may dry out in the next 50 years and transform to dry grassland, with the potential loss of many rare species; while in dune and machair systems (a form of coastal grassland unique to Scotland and Ireland) there is evidence of erosional narrowing of beaches and dunes. Sea defence provided by saltmarsh, sand dunes and shingle will face increasing erosional pressure due to sea level rise and storms.

Seabirds have declined by 7.5% in the UK since the turn of the century, and climate warming is considered to be one of the main drivers by altering prey abundance and quality. Models predict that, by 2100, the UK climate will no longer be suitable for some species, with the range of others retracting to northern Scotland. Any increase in the frequency of extreme weather could further impact on seabirds by altering breeding habitat and creating unfavourable foraging conditions.

Seabirds on the Isle of May, photo Isle of May Long-Term Monitoring Survey
Seabirds on the Isle of May

The scorecards are produced by the Marine Climate Change Impacts Partnership (MCCIP) and cover more than 30 marine and coastal topics. More than 150 scientists from 55 leading UK science organisations contributed to the 2013 report.

The scorecards are published annually, and provide latest updates on the evidence of recent change and best scientific projections of what is likely to happen in the near future. A summary of the findings for all UK marine and coastal habitats, and the detailed peer-reviewed briefings on all 33 topics can be found on the MCCIP website.

Additional information

The Marine Climate Change Impacts Partnership was launched in March 2005 and is a partnership between scientists, government, its agencies, non-governmental organisations and industry.

A press release was issued to announce publication of the 2013 Report Card.

Related CEH links

Staff page of Dr Laurence Jones (sand dune expert)

Staff page of Angus Garbutt (saltmarsh expert)

Staff page of Dr Francis Daunt (seabird expert)

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