Gothenburg [Sweden], September 24 (ANI): Just as there has long been spatial planning for operations on land, planning is required to encourage the sustainable development of marine environments. Researchers from the University of Gothenburg and other institutions are now proving that marine planning, which it currently does not, must take climate change into account. Changes in temperature and salt concentration may have a greater impact on ecosystems and species than every other environmental element combined, according to the researchers' findings.
Symphony is a programme that has been around for a while. GIS maps are used to show the distribution of important ecosystems and species throughout Sweden's coastlines, as well as how different environmental disturbances like nutrient pollution, boat traffic, and fishing affect them in different areas. The maps are meant to aid in the definition of priorities and the execution of various actions by public authorities and other parties involved in marine planning.
Symphony's present edition bears the flaw of not accounting for potential future climate change. The ClimeMarine project's researchers have now investigated what happens when the tool is modified to take into account expected variations in temperature and salt content.
"It revealed that the expected climatic changes will enhance the entire environmental impact by at least fifty percent, and in certain regions, as much as several hundred percent," said Per Jonsson, a researcher at the University of Gothenburg and co-author of the study.
The GIS maps show how the effects of climate change vary for different geographical areas.
It is a clear indicator that additional influences may need to be minimised in order to lower the total rate of impact in some regions. According to Jonsson, we might consider, for instance, rerouting a shipping line or capping the expansion of marinas and recreational boating in areas with rare eelgrass meadows.
Additionally, the method enables the identification of areas that are anticipated to be less impacted by climate change, such as so-called upwelling areas like those off the coast of Gotland, where deep, cold water rises and cools the water at the surface. These areas can act as climate refugees, ensuring the survival of threatened species.
"Marine reserves may be considered to protect these areas, where we 'remove' other factors that have an impact. Sweden has committed to establishing several new protected marine areas, and Symphony can help identify where they should be located."
These projections are prone to errors, says Per Jonsson. Predictions of future temperatures and salt concentrations are based on mathematical models that are continuously improved and updated. We don't know what will happen to our carbon dioxide emissions in the future. Evaluating this political issue is difficult.
We also need to be aware of how vulnerable different ecosystems and species are to climate change. Experimental tests are needed to show what happens as the temperature and salt content change.
But even without these, he is persuaded that climate change would eventually have an effect on marine environments.
"What we present in the study can be seen as educated assumptions based on the knowledge we have at this time. But it is obvious that marine planning needs to take climate change into account. (ANI)