Climate change is having a significant impact on the health of the seas surrounding Britain, says a new report.

Britain on alert as floods threaten once more Rising seas, bigger waves, flooding, and more violent storms are already happening as temperatures increase. 2006 was the second-warmest year in UK coastal waters since records began in 1870 and seven of the 10 warmest years have occurred in the last decade, according to the Marine Climate Change Impacts Partnership (MCCIP) report card 2007-08.

The report attempts to assess how much climate change has affected the UK's marine environment and what the consequences may be in the future. Coastal erosion, which already affects 17 per cent of the UK coastline is expected to increase and more powerful seas will have a major impact on commercial operations in ports and shipping while coastal buildings will be more vulnerable to damage. Fishing will be also affected by temperature change making worse the problems already caused by over exploitation.

The report says warmer conditions can disrupt the marine food chain from top to bottom with the movement or disappearance of plankton impacting on predators such as fish which in turn affects the sea birds. It is already known that warmer winters are linked to reduced breeding success and survival in some sea bird populations.

The report says climate change is already causing warmer, saltier and more acidic seas with a greater incidence of severe winds and bigger waves. There is also evidence that the Atlantic Heat Conveyor, of which the Gulf Stream is part, and which helps maintain relatively mild temperatures in north-west Europe, has reduced in strength by up to 30 per cent in the last 100 years.


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