change is having a big impact on British shorelines
CLIMATE CHANGE has forced seashore
creatures around Britain to relocate, with warming
seas pushing many species of barnacles, snails
and limpets north in search of cooler areas of
coast, according to a new study.
"Climate change is having a big impact on
British shorelines," said Nova Mieszkowska
of the Marine Biology Association, who led the
four year MarClim project to track the distribution
of 57 species at more than 400 sites around the
By comparing their new data
with 1950s records from the same areas, researchers
found that some marine species adapted to cold-water
were migrating away form warming seas, and were
movement faster than their terrestrial counterparts.
They include toothed and flat
top shells, acorn barnacles, china limpets and
small periwinkles. Some cold-water species, such
as the tortoiseshell limpet, have almost disappeared
form Britain's shores.
Increased global temperatures have also confused
birds this winter
• Sea surface temperatures will continue
to rise as climate change takes hold
Increased global temperatures
have also confused birds this winter. Robins,
thrushes and ducks that would normally fly south
from Scandinavia have only been turning up in
Britain in December-long after snow usually drives
According to ornithologist, Berwick's swans, which
usually arrive in Britain in October from Siberia,
seemed to have stopped for longer than usual in
countries such as Estonia or the Netherlands because
of plentiful food there.
The average temperature of the Earth increased
by 0.7C in the 20th century. Globally, nine out
of the 10 warmest years on record were between
1990 and 2000, and 2006 looks likely to be the
warmest in Britain since records began.
Sea surface temperatures around Britain have increased
in line with global warming, in some places by
more than the global average: the western English
Channel has seen a 1C rise since 1990, bigger
than any changes since records began.
There have been similar changes
in the eastern channel. "Global predictions
are that species ranges will move pole-wards as
the climate warms, regardless of them being terrestrial
or marine, "said Dr.Mieszkowska.
According to modeling done by the U.K. climate
impacts programme at Oxford University, sea surface
temperatures will continue to rise as climate
change takes hold. Around some parts of Britain,
the temperatures are predicted to rise by up to
3C over the next century. Some species are thriving
in the warmer seas.
"Warm water species are
able to extend their ranges now into areas where
the climate was too cold in the past, whereas
a lot of our native species that have cold water
species distribution are struggling as waters
are warming up."
Top shells, a type of warm water snail, have extended
their ranges in Britain by up to 85 Km since the
end of the 1980s.
"We have data from the 1970s and 80s and,
for a 10 year period, the range didn't move at
all. Then, suddenly, in 16 years they've really
extended their range."
The warmer seas have also brought invasive species
with them. A type of Japanese seaweed called Sargassum
muticum was brought to Britain in the 1940s in
the ballast water of ships, and in the last 20
years it has expanded its range rapidly.
"Biodiversity is going to be changed, possibly
irreversible, within a reasonably short time because
it's only going to get warmer and warmer quicker
and quicker according to the scenarios,"
The Marclim researchers will continue their new
work in a project called Indirock. This will monitor
entire ecosystems on the shoreline rather than
Dr.Mieszkowska said, that changes
to shoreline species act as a warning for the
effects of climate change on biodiversity.
"A lot of them are food for the fish. If
something happens to them first, you can guarantee
there will probably be a severe knock-on effect
higher up the food chain.