Environment

Climate Change is Altering the Marine Habitat of the United Kingdom

The waters off the coast of the UK have long been home to a number of fish and other marine species that prefer cool waters. Recently, however, the temperatures of these waters have been heating up and the level of carbon dioxide has been rising due to global climate change. In fact, scientists report an average increase of around .5° Celsius every 10 years. While this difference may seem minimal to most humans, it has a significant impact on the local ecosystem. According to one report, cold water species are vacating the region and heading further north, while warmer water species are moving in.

The North Sea cod is one example of the changing environment here. This fish had nearly disappeared of the coast of the UK in 2006. Strict fishing restrictions have helped recover the population, but researchers believe the result has been been dampened by the rising sea temperatures. This decreased population negatively affects both the local fishing industry and the sea birds that rely on this fish as a primary food source.

Tuna, anchovies, and squid are now taking the place of the cod fish. The population of these warm water species has exploded recently, first spotted by fishing groups. Squid, for example, were once a rare sighting in this area. Nowadays, the fishing industry reports catching hundreds and thousands of tonnes of squid every year in UK waters. The same is true of anchovies and tuna.

The impact of global climate change is becoming increasingly clear. These temperature changes will cause a chain reaction, affecting everything from birds to coastal weather conditions. Scientists expect storms and flooding to increase, while some bird become extinct in the UK over the coming years. Additionally, the increased carbon dioxide measured here will make it difficult for some crustaceans and mollusks to properly develop shells. Not all of the ecosystem changes are expected to be negative, however. The fishing industry will likely benefit from the increased fish diversity and marine plant life (particularly algae and seaweed) will thrive thanks to the increased levels of carbon dioxide.

This finding suggests that scientists' predictions, in terms of global climate change, are indeed coming to pass.

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