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on the environment

You are here: Home / Data and maps / Indicators / Marine phenology

Marine phenology

Note: new version is available!

Update planned for November 2012

Contents
 

Assessment versions

Published (reviewed and quality assured)

Justification for indicator selection

Phenology is the study of annually recurring life-cycle events such as the timing of migrations and flowering of plants. In the marine environment such phenology indicators would include the timing of the spring phytoplankton bloom and the peak in the abundance of other marine organisms such as the earlier appearance of dinoflagellates associated with summer stratified conditions. Change in phenology is one of the key indicators of the impacts of climate change on biological populations. Because marine species have different sensitivities to changes in temperature, these changes may lead to large shifts in the marine food web that can ultimately affect the food available to fish, birds or marine mammals.
In the North Sea, many species are appearing earlier in their normal seasonal cycles while others are not. This has led to a decoupling of species relationships and changes in food-web structures (Edwards and Richardson, 2004). Such changes in plankton have been strongly implicated in worsening the decline in North Sea cod stocks, caused initially by over-fishing (Beaugrand et al., 2003), and have contributed to changing other fish populations (sand-eels) that are an essential food source for seabirds (Frederiksen et al., 2006).
The southern North Sea has been identified as being particular vulnerable to phenology changes (Edwards, Woo and Richardson, in prep.). Phenology changes have been related to the degree and speed of regional climate change. For example, the southern North Sea is warming faster than other regions in the North East Atlantic and is where phenological movement has been much more pronounced.

Scientific references:

  • References Beugrand, G.; Brandner, K. M.; Lindley, J. A.; Souissi, S.; Reid, P. C., 2003. Plankton effect on cod recruitment in the North Sea. Nature 426: 661-664. Edwards M. and Richardson A. J., 2004. Impact of climate change on marine pelagic phenology and trophic mismatch. Nature 430: 881-884. Edwards, M.; Reid P. C. and Planque, B., 2001. Long-term and regional variability of phytoplankton biomass in the Northeast Atlantic (1960-1995). ICES Journal of Marine Science 58: 39-49. Edwards, M.; Woo, J. and Richardson, A. J. (in preparation). Spatial variability in marine pelagic phenology. Frankignoul, C. and Kestenare, E., 2005. Observed Atlantic SST Anomaly Impact on the NAO: An update. Journal of Climate 18: 4089-4094. Frederiksen, M.; Edwards, M.; Richardson, A. J.; Halliday, N. C.; Wanless, S., 2006. From plankton to top predators: bottom-up control of a marine food web across four trophic levels. Journal of Animal Ecology 75: 1259-1268. Lindley, J. A., 1987. Continuous Plankton Records: the geographical distributions and seasonal cycles of decapod crustacean larvae and pelagic post-larvae in the North-eastern Atlantic Ocean and the North Sea, 1981-83. Journal of the Marine Biological Association of the United Kingdom 67: 145-150. Reid, P. C.; Edwards, M.; Hunt, H .G. and Warner, A. J., 1998. Phytoplankton change in the North Atlantic. Nature 391: 546.

Indicator definition

  • Decapod abundance in the central North Sea 1950-2005
  • Change in colour index in southern North Sea from the 1950s until 2000s

Units

http://www.eea.europa.eu/publications/eea_report_2008_4/pp76-110CC2008_ch5-4to6_Water_quantity_and_quality.pdf

Policy context and targets

Context description

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

Targets

No targets have been specified

Related policy documents

No related policy documents have been specified

Key policy question

.

Methodology

Methodology for indicator calculation

http://www.eea.europa.eu/publications/eea_report_2008_4/pp76-110CC2008_ch5-4to6_Water_quantity_and_quality.pdf

Methodology for gap filling

http://www.eea.europa.eu/publications/eea_report_2008_4/pp193-207CC2008_ch8_Data_gaps.pdf

Methodology references

No methodology references available.

Data specifications

EEA data references

  • No datasets have been specified here.

External data references

Data sources in latest figures

Uncertainties

Methodology uncertainty

http://www.eea.europa.eu/publications/eea_report_2008_4/pp193-207CC2008_ch8_Data_gaps.pdf

Data sets uncertainty

http://www.eea.europa.eu/publications/eea_report_2008_4/pp193-207CC2008_ch8_Data_gaps.pdf

Rationale uncertainty

No uncertainty has been specified

Further work

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.

General metadata

Responsibility and ownership

EEA Contact Info

Trine Christiansen

Ownership

European Environment Agency (EEA)

Identification

Indicator code
CLIM 014
Specification
Version id: 1
Primary theme: Climate change Climate change

Permalinks

Permalink to this version
c8fcb2d156139b19fcbef311e9f9cfcd
Permalink to latest version
2JFTIDZ06J

Classification

DPSIR: Impact
Typology: Descriptive indicator (Type A - What is happening to the environment and to humans?)

Geographical coverage

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