The agency has published four character area reports as part of a project to identify local responses to changing conditions. In the Dorset Downs and Cranborne Chase, the report predicts that the climate may resemble that of present-day Portugal by 2080.
Summer droughts accompanied by intense winter storms could lead to increased soil erosion. This would present challenges for landmarks such as the Iron Age hill forts of Maiden Castle and Hambledon Hill.
On the Norfolk Broads natural flood plain wetlands, the impact will be a repeated cycle of flooding and drought, the report says. Meanwhile, seasonal changes are expected to alter the mixture of species and habitats that are traditionally found in the Shropshire Hills.
In Cumbria, the study predicts that the peat soils of the High Fells are a carbon time bomb that needs to be specifically managed. It says significant amounts of carbon would be emitted as the result of the drier summers and heavier rain.
Natural England chief executive Helen Phillips said: "By anticipating how particular areas might be affected by climate change and by developing targeted local responses, the reports will be a valuable means for us to understand how the natural environment can adapt to the climate challenges that it faces."
Posted on 15th April 2009
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