A recently completed four-year project looking at climate change impacts in the coastal zone hit the news recently (21/12/2006 – see below). Called "MarClim", the project was to detect changes in the distribution of rocky shore species around the UK and Ireland since the 1950s and relate these to climate change. Several species had changed distributions: southern species extended their northern limits, while northern species declined, especially in southern areas.
Our role in the project was to survey sites in Scotland and N England, and to develop models to forecast the likely changes for different carbon emissions scenarios. These models linked present-day distributions to sea surface temperatures and local wave exposure, and used climate projections from the UK Climate Impacts Programme (UKCIP) to forecast where these species might be found up to 75 years from now.
Changes in distribution of the toothed topshell (Osilinus lineatus) from the present day (left) to the 2020s (middle, UKCIP High 2020s carbon emissions scenario +0.4 to +0.8°C), and where the species is most likely to appear (right).