Freshwater biodiversity and water quality
Published (reviewed and quality assured)
Justification for indicator selectionSpecies and habitat dynamics in the face of climate change are complex and have many aspects. Increased temperatures and CO2 concentrations will have an effect on different processes such as photosynthesis, respiration and decomposition and generally speed up these processes. Climate-induced changes in ice cover period, thermal stratification and nutrient availability and longer growing seasons affect species composition and food web structures.
Water temperature is one of the parameters that determine the overall health of aquatic ecosystems. Most aquatic organisms (e.g. salmonid fish) have a specific range of temperatures that they can tolerate, which determines their spatial distribution along a river or on a regional scale. Climate change could lead to the extinction of some aquatic species or at least could modify their distribution in a river system or move their distribution northwards. Several indications of climate impact on the functioning and biodiversity of freshwater ecosystems have already been observed, such as northward movement, phenology changes and invasive alien species.
Enhanced harmful algal blooms in lakes resulting from climate change may counteract nutrient load reduction measures and also require a revision of classification systems for ecological status assessment. The inclusion of additional nutrient load reduction measures in river basin management plans may be needed to obtain good ecological status, as required by the Water Framework Directive. Public health may be threatened and the use of lakes for drinking water and recreation may be reduced.
- No rationale references available
- Northward shift and changes in occurrence of selected freshwater species
- Model simulation of hydrodynamics and phytoplankton dynamics during three contrasting summers in Lake Nieuwe Meer (the Netherlands)
- The share of Trichoptera taxa sensitive to climate change in the European Ecoregions
Policy context and targets
In April 2009 the European Commission presented a White Paper on the framework for adaptation policies and measures to reduce the European Union's vulnerability to the impacts of climate change. The aim is to increase the resilience to climate change of health, property and the productive functions of land, inter alia by improving the management of water resources and ecosystems. More knowledge is needed on climate impact and vulnerability but a considerable amount of information and research already exists which can be shared better through a proposed Clearing House Mechanism. The White Paper stresses the need to mainstream adaptation into existing and new EU policies. A number of Member States have already taken action and several have prepared national adaptation plans. The EU is also developing actions to enhance and finance adaptation in developing countries as part of a new post-2012 global climate agreement expected in Copenhagen (Dec. 2009). For more information see: http://ec.europa.eu/environment/climat/adaptation/index_en.htm
No targets have been specified
Related policy documents
No related policy documents have been specified
Methodology for indicator calculation
Methodology for gap filling
No methodology references available.
EEA data references
- No datasets have been specified here.
External data references
- Summer heatwaves promote blooms of harmful cyanobacteria
- Biological Records Centre
Data sources in latest figures
Data sets uncertainty
No uncertainty has been specified
Short term work
Work specified here requires to be completed within 1 year from now.
Long term work
Work specified here will require more than 1 year (from now) to be completed.
Responsibility and ownership
EEA Contact InfoPeter Kristensen
Typology: Descriptive indicator (Type A - What is happening to the environment and to humans?)
For references, please go to www.eea.europa.eu/soer or scan the QR code.
This briefing is part of the EEA's report The European Environment - State and Outlook 2015. The EEA is an official agency of the EU, tasked with providing information on Europe’s environment.
PDF generated on 06 May 2015, 10:35 PM