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New report on regional scenarios of climate change impacts in European Seas

On March 2, 2007, dr. Katja Philippart from the Royal Netherlands Institute for Sea Research (NIOZ) and chair of a European working group on ‘Climate Change Impacts on the European Marine and Coastal Environment’ will present a new report on signals and scenarios of climate change in European seas.

She will elaborate on the results of this Marine Board-ESF study, which started in 2005, and formally hand over the report 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 recent IPCC-4 Report (2007) leaves us in no doubt that climate change, due to global warming, is a reality and that it is driven by human activity. The Sterne Report (2006) quantifies the cost to the global economy of the negative aspects of climate change. This Marine Board Report takes the next step – it asks the question “what will it be like for my marine backyard?” What will be 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?

Even moderate climate scenarios are expected to further alter the marine environment. In the northern Arctic and Barents Seas, the most obvious temperature-related changes for marine life are due to a decline in sea ice cover. In general, it is expected that in open systems there will be a (further) northward movement of marine organisms resulting in a shift from Arctic to Atlantic species in the more northern seas and from temperate to more subtropical species in southern waters. Increased river runoff and subsequent freshening of the Baltic Sea will lead to shifts from marine to more brackish and even freshwater species. Temperature-induced loss of endemic species from enclosed systems, such as the Mediterranean and Black Sea, will enhance the introduction of non-native organisms.

A better mechanistic understanding of impacts will be essential for development of adaptive strategies to address the inevitable consequences of climate change for our marine waters. In keeping with its brief to advice on future European marine research needs, the Report identifies future challenges in terms of climate change monitoring, modelling, indicators and research and development.

The presentation of this review study by dr. Philippart will take place at the Boeverbos venue in Bruges, at the occasion of the annual Young Marine Scientist’s Day, organised by the Flanders Marine Institute (VLIZ). She will present the main results at 13h00. The handing-over of the report to the head of cabinet will take place at 13h50. The full programme can be consulted at the' target=_blank VLIZ website.

* Jan Seys (VLIZ), +32 (0)59 34 21 30; +32 (0)478 37 64 13;
* Jan Boon (NIOZ), +31/(0)222 36 94 66; +31/(0)6 209 63 097;

Jan Seys | alfa
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