Search site

Climate impacts on the Skomer Marine Natural Reserve

Objectives: Pembrokeshire Coast National Park prepared this mock case study, which uses dummy data to investigate impacts of climate change in the Skomer Marine Natural Reserve and neighbouring coastal areas. In particular, it investigates impacts on the loss and introduction of species, the change in coastal and estuarine habitats and the impact on access by visitors and what changes may be needed to management policies.

How they used UKCP09 dummy data

This example was an initial scoping exercise to examine the potential to undertake the impacts assessments required by Pembrokeshire Coast National Park using the projections.

  1. The key findings were used to obtain a general overview of the nature of projected changes in temperature, precipitation and sea-level with the probabilistic plots providing insight into the relative certainties associated with the projected changes.
  1. The projected changes in precipitation and temperature were analysed to understand the implications for the marine reserve. This analysis led to the recognition that there are many factors about the sensitivity of the habitats and species to changes in climate that are unknown.

3. As a result key unknowns were identified that in turn led to recognition of the need for a broad-based strategy focusing on identifying potential means of coping with possible impacts.

Next steps

This scoping study led to the identification of several key shortcomings in understanding, which need to be addressed. It also highlighted the need for a responsible coping strategy. The following have been identified as needing particular attention:

  • The effects and nature of the effects of changes in temperature, precipitation and sea-level on wildlife over time, as well as on land-use (as these impacts will affect wildlife).
  • The existence of thresholds and the potential for non-linear changes with critical points.
  • The limits of species as some may only survive within a fixed temperature range.
  • The fact that it is likely that no single factor (e.g. temperature change) will be responsible for habitat or species changes, but rather they will likely result from a combination of factors (climate and others) acting on-site and potentially at a distance.
  • Understanding of preceding conditions and changes, and how those have and are affecting habitats and species.

In light of these unknowns it has been suggested that there is a need to change management to include enhanced resilience in the park and surrounding countryside rather than relying on developing a plan for a time when problems may become suddenly evident.

This would also include monitoring of species populations and changes in habitat characteristics to identify potential warning signs that are forerunners of changes. This could provide much needed data that could address the identified knowledge gaps.

Lessons learned

Used in isolation UKCP09 does not provide information about potential impacts and is not sufficient to identify all impacts, as climate change is only one of many factors that influence the environment.

Find out more

  • Contact details: Alan Hare, Pembrokeshire Coast National Park Authority

  Download the full report [79kb]