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UK marine shelf conservation

Objectives: CEFAS used UKCP09 information to explore potential climate changes in the environment at potential Special Areas of Conservation (SAC) sites at six sites on the UK marine shelf.

UKCP09 products used: Marine and Coastal Projections

How they used UKCP09

1. The probabilistic climate projections (marine) were used to generate an example PDF of temperature increase under a medium Emissions scenarios for summer in the 2080s for the UKCP09 Marine Area Southern North Sea. A corresponding table was generated and presented to give further information on the other Time period and emission scenarios.

2. Changes in the water-column were investigated using the multi-level ocean projections. Maps of future seasonal temperature changes (relative to the 1970s) were developed for the 2080s for both the surface layer of the ocean and the bottom of the ocean in order to investigate stratification.

3. Output for sub-regions (two potential Special Areas of Conservation) was extracted from the gridded datasets, allowing analysis of the change in particular areas. Change in the mean conditions for individual seasons was directly extracted and also change in the seasonal cycle of the water column derived at these areas. This included an assessment of the change in area affected by thermal stratification for significant periods in an average year.

Next steps

The information gathered could be compiled into a high-level standard report as a brief summary of change at the location under investigation. This could be used in the background information and assessments when considering any sub-region of UK shelf seas (e.g. SACs, MPAs, offshore wind-farms).

What they learnt about UKCP09

  • The UKCP09 coastal and marine projections enabled an improved assessment of potential future climate change both within the water column and the atmosphere above the potential offshore SACs.
  • Gridded datasets allow sub-regions of interest to be defined and change parameters (both direct and derived) analysed in detail.
  • The 50% probability level is very difficult to explain qualitatively.
  • An observational Baseline climate data set on the same grid as the future dataset will be needed for the user to understand the outputs more usefully.

Find out more

  • Contact details: Stephen Dye, Cefas