As part of the Marine Climate Change Impacts Partnership (MCCIP) 'rolling evidence' programme, an updated review of the current and future impacts of climate change on UK marine mammals has recently been published on the MCCIP website.
JNCC staff from the Marine Species Team carried out the review, collaborating with multiple UK government organisations and external scientific experts. The work contributes to the MCCIP report cards, providing a publicly available evidence base for climate change impacts on the marine environment.
The UK is well-placed to monitor changes in marine mammal populations due to its position between warmer subtropical and colder Arctic waters which places both cold and warm water species at the edges of their thermal tolerances. The evidence continues to suggest that the main impacts of climate change on marine mammals are geographic range shifts, reduction in suitable habitats, food web alterations and increased prevalence of disease. However, the diverse range of anthropogenic pressures acting on marine mammals and the difficulty determining causation from correlation in observed changes makes separating climate change induced pressures from wider cumulative pressures difficult. More long-term species monitoring, and a better understanding of cumulative impacts and bottom-up effects are needed to improve confidence in the impacts of climate change on marine mammals and what could happen in the future.
The Marine Climate Change Impacts Partnership (MCCIP) is a partnership between scientists, government, its agencies, non-governmental organisations (NGOs) and industry. The principal aim is to provide a co-ordinating framework for the UK, to be able to transfer high-quality evidence on marine climate change impacts, and guidance on adaptation and related advice, to policy advisers and decision-makers. For more information about the Partnership, visit the MCCIP website.