Distribution of marine species (CLIM 015) - Assessment published Nov 2012
Climate change (Primary topic)
Coasts and seas
Typology: Descriptive indicator (Type A - What is happening to the environment and to humans?)
- CLIM 015
Key policy question: How is climate change affecting the regional distribution of marine organisms in European seas?
- Increases in regional sea temperatures have triggered a major northward expansion of warmer-water plankton in the North-east Atlantic and a northward retreat of colder-water plankton. This northerly movement is about 10 ° latitude (1 100 km) over the past 40 years, and it seems to have accelerated since 2000.
- Sub-tropical species are occurring with increasing frequency in European waters, and sub-Arctic species are receding northwards.
- Further changes in the distribution of marine species are expected, with projected further climate change, but quantitative projections are not available.
Calanus ratio in the North Sea
Note: Continuous Plankton Recorder data. Left: Temporal and seasonal distribution of the Calanus ratio (1958–2009). Right: Change in Calanus ratio in the North Sea between (1958 and 2009).
- CPR Dataset (SAHFOS) provided by Sir Alister Hardy Foundation for Ocean Science (SAHFOS)
Increases in regional sea temperatures have triggered a major northward movement of warmer-water plankton in the North-east Atlantic and a similar retreat of colder-water plankton to the north. This northerly movement is about 10 o latitude (1 100 km) over the past 40 years (a mean poleward movement of between 200 and 250 km per decade), and there appears to have been an acceleration since 2000 [i]. Recently, a Norwegian study showed even faster rates of northward movement between 1997 and 2010. Out of about 1 600 benthic marine species found in coastal waters of southern Norway, 565 species had expanded their distribution northwards along the coast, at rates of 500–800 km per decade [ii]. These rates are much faster than any other documented terrestrial study.
Further changes in the distribution of marine species are expected with projected further climate change, but quantitative projections are not available.
[i] Grégory Beaugrand, „Decadal changes in climate and ecosystems in the North Atlantic Ocean and adjacent seas“, Deep Sea Research Part II: Topical Studies in Oceanography 56, Nr. 8–10 (April 2009): 656–673, doi:10.1016/j.dsr2.2008.12.022.
[ii] T. Brattegard, Endringer i norsk marin bunnfauna 1997-2010 DN-utredning 8-2011 (Trondheim: Direktoratet for naturforvaltning, 2011), http://www.dirnat.no/content/500042260/Endringer-i-norsk-marin-bunnfauna-1997-2010.
Continuous Plankton Recorder (CPR) survey
provided by Sir Alister Hardy Foundation for Ocean Science (SAHFOS)
More information about this indicator
See this indicator specification for more details.
Contacts and ownership
EEA Contact InfoTrine Christiansen
EEA Management Plan2012 2.0.1 (note: EEA internal system)
Frequency of updates
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.
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