A recently completed four-year project looking at climate change impacts in the coastal zone hit the news this week (21/12/2006 – see below). Called ‘MarClim’, the project was designed to detect changes in the distribution and abundance of rocky shore species around the UK and Ireland over the last 50 years and relate these to changes in climate. Several species showed significant changes in their distributions: southern species extended their northern limits, while northern species declined, especially in southern areas.
Our role in the project was in surveying most of the sites visited in Scotland and N England, and, importantly, developing models to forecast the changes likely to happen under different carbon emissions scenarios. These models linked present-day geographical distributions to sea surface temperatures and local conditions of 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).
Marclim website – contains project objectives, summary findings and funding details