The researchers note that climate change impacts are inter-related and some might amplify each other or cancel each other out.
"We know there is potential for substantial change, with wide-ranging impacts," says Jan Mees, Director of the Flanders Marine Institute (Vlaams Instituut voor de Zee, VLIZ)
"We must both learn more and disseminate the knowledge in hand. Greater awareness is our best hope for motivating attempts to slow climate change and prepare for what it will bring."
There is already evidence that physical changes in the oceans will have devastating ecological, biological and economic impacts.
Among other recent research results:
New patterns of seawater mixing on which marine animals depend
The mixing of deeper and shallower ocean waters determines whether and when nutrients, oxygen and heat are distributed. It usually occurs in a seasonal pattern, depending on sea depths, winds, changes in temperature and salinity, and flows of freshwater from rivers and melting. Most often, waters remain in stable layers throughout the summer and this stratification breaks down from fall to spring. Marine species are adapted to these cycles, so changes could impact their reproduction and survival.
Modeling by Britain's Hadley Centre for Climate Prediction and Research shows the strength of seasonal stratification will increase by 20 per cent on Europe's sea shelf areas, mainly because of temperature changes, and by 20 to 50 per cent in the open-ocean, largely because of the forecast declines in salinity. In shelf seas not affected by river discharges, stratification is projected to start five days earlier and break down five to 10 days later each year, extending the period when the waters don'
|Contact: Terry Collins|
Flanders Marine Institute (VLIZ)