Climate change continues to impact UK waters

2 12 2013

The Marine Climate Change Impacts Partnership (MCCIP) has published its latest Report Card, detailing a comprehensive assessment on how climate change is affecting UK waters. MCCIP is a partnership between scientists, government and the marine community which enables clear communication and engagement across a range of key marine topics. The Met Office has contributed scientific expertise to a range of these topics, as well as being a partner organisation of MCCIP.

For the first time, Arctic sea-ice coverage is considered by the report’s authors. The report states that a long-term decline is clearly apparent, with Arctic sea-ice extent retreating and the ice becoming thinner as temperatures rise. This may provide opportunities for European and Asian commercial ships to cross the globe via northern polar routes.

The report card explains how short term variability means some years will be cooler than others. However, long term records clearly demonstrate an overall warming trend in recent decades, which is expected to continue in the future.

In addition, the 2013 report’s regional maps highlight differences across the UK’s seas and show the importance of local-scale impacts. For instance, the movement of fish species – important to commercial and recreational fishermen – and how non-native species are expanding their range are both covered.

Some key findings in the 2013 MCCIP Report Card include:

• Temperature records continue to show an overall upward trend despite short-term variability. For example, in the last decade, the average UK coastal sea surface temperature was actually lower in 2008-2012 than in 2003-2007.

• The seven lowest Arctic sea-ice extents in the satellite era were recorded between 2007 and 2013. The continuing downward trend is providing opportunities for the use of polar transit routes between Europe and Asia by commercial ships.

• Changes to primary production are expected throughout the UK, with southern regions (e.g. Celtic Sea, English Channel) becoming up to 10% more productive and northern regions (e.g. central and northern North Sea) up to 20% less productive; with clear implications for fisheries.

• There continue to be some challenges in identifying impacts of climate change.  These are due to difficulties distinguishing between short-term variability and long-term trends, and between climate drivers and other pressures.

Dr Matthew Frost of the Marine Biological Association and Chair of the MCCIP Report Card Working Group said:

“The marine environment is subject to a wide range of man-made pressures but can also change in response to natural processes. Disentangling these factors to enable identification of current and potential future impacts of climate change continues to be one of the greatest challenges facing marine scientists today. We have sought to clearly explain these challenges whilst continuing to report on the rapid and significant impacts of marine climate change.”

Marine Environment Minister George Eustice said:

“This report improves our understanding of how UK seas are already influenced by climate change and of potential changes in the future. Understanding these impacts, threats and opportunities is an essential basis for managing our marine environment.”

The report card highlights how little is known about climate change impacts on the “marine economy”, despite its importance for food (fish and aquaculture), energy (oil, gas and renewable energy), transport and coastal tourism and marine recreation. Coastal tourism and marine recreation is a key economic sector that could be highly sensitive to climate change (e.g. the threats of flooding, coastal erosion and opportunities for increasing visitor numbers), but little is known about future social and economic impacts.


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10 responses

3 12 2013
jbenton2013

How curious that the Met Office comment on Arctic sea ice, but completely fail to mention that minimum Arctic sea ice levels in 2013 staged a massive rebound of nearly 60% over 2012 levels. Very misleading.

Also, yet again no mention whatsoever of the fact that Antarctic sea ice continues to grow as it has done for the last three decades since satellite measurements began.

9 12 2013
John Havery Samuel

How curious that JBenton neglects to mention the diminishing land ice. The Antarctic, Greenland and the glaciers are all in retreat.

If you look at *all* the ice the answer is clear. The world is warming.

If you’re really interested in Antarctic sea ice read http://phys.org/news/2013-10-antarctic-sea-ice.html

14 12 2013
jbenton2013

I think you need to do much more research into the subject before you’re in a position to lecture anyone. The article you link to is both misleading and incomplete, as many commenters have pointed out. It doesn’t even mention the massive rebound in Arctic sea ice in 2013 amounting to over 50% increase on 2012 levels.

If you’re really interested in a global perspective why don’t you visit the real experts cryospheretoday.com.

3 12 2013
Foxgoose (@Foxgoose)

The headline states “Climate change continues to impact UK waters”.

But nothing in the text supports this. Instead we get “in the last decade, the average UK coastal sea surface temperature was actually lower in 2008-2012 than in 2003-2007.”

Followed by vague statements like ..”Changes to primary production ‘are expected’ throughout the UK”…

and.. “There continue to be some challenges in identifying impacts of climate change. “…..

plus … “Disentangling these factors to enable identification of current and potential future impacts of climate change continues to be one of the greatest challenges facing marine scientists today”

So, basically, no actual “impacts” were identified and the whole item is redolent of propaganda rather than science.

4 12 2013
wottsupwiththatblog

jbenton2013, no it’s your comment that’s rather misleading. The 60% claim was made before the actual 2013 minimum. The correct number is that the 2013 minimum was about a 45% increase on the 2012 minimum. The minimum in 2012 was, however, extremely low and so the 2013 value was essentially an example of regression to the mean. You don’t expect two extremely low values two years in a row. From a global warming perspective, volume/mass is more relevant than area, and that continues to fall.

The Antarctic sea ice growth trend is 3 times slower than the Arctic trend. Additionally, reduced Arctic sea ice in summer acts to reduce the planet’s albedo (since the uncovered ocean is much darker than ice), while increased Antarctic sea ice in winter has very little effect on albedo (there’s not much sunlight at those latitudes in winter).

5 12 2013
John Benton

“You don’t expect two extremely low values two years in a row”

That’s certainly not what the global warming alarmists, yourself included, was saying in 2012. Back then the alarmists were talking of Arctic ice “death spirals” and “ice free Arctic” in a few years.

However, I’m glad to see the alarmists have changed their tune. Which I suppose is not too surprising given the record growth in Arctic sea ice over the last month. Another increase in summer 2014 and we could be back to the 30 year average soon.

5 12 2013
nuwurld

Your “assumption” that a 45% increase is part of a regression to a mean is an “assumption”. No more no less.
“You don’t expect two extremely low values in a row”. Should we expect a 45% increase?
The Arctic sea ice affects the Earth’s albedo. True. Yet still the system response is to increase sea ice by 45% despite all the extra energy absorbed through open water. Whilst of course leading to no further warming of the planet. The production of ice is however exothermic and limits cooling.
The Pacific multi decadal has turned ENSO neutral and the Atlantic multi decadal has peaked. Soon both oceans will be in negative phase in line with the declining solar flux. Pray that CO2 works.

5 12 2013
wottsupwiththatblog

I said nothing of the sort in 2012. If you’re going to make a very strong statement about something I’ve said, be quite nice if you actually got it right or provided some kind of evidence. I also do not think anyone credible said, in 2012, that 2013 was likely to be another low year.

Another increase in summer 2014 and we could be back to the 30 year average soon.

Indeed. On the other hand …..

5 12 2013
nuwurld

2014 will be the onset of solar reduction to the extent that we have not witnessed before. Quiet sun will rapidly bring back Arctic sea ice. Don’t you worry about that.

6 12 2013
John Benton

Unfortunately for the alarmists the internet forgets nothing, and even deleted articles appear on the ‘wayback’ system.

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