Global Warning Sparks Plankton Migration

Global Warning Sparks Plankton Migration
Scotsman – UK

Global Warning Sparks Plankton Migration

By Amanda Brown, PA Environment Correspondent.

Global warming is causing microscopic marine life in the seas around the UK to move north – in the biggest shift in the past 100 years – and raising fears that other marine species could follow, according to a Government report published today.

Scientists working on the Continuous Plankton Recorder survey, have found that warm water plankton in the North Sea are migrating northwards while cold water plankton are moving even further north as seawater temperature rises.

Plankton are at the start of almost all food chains in the marine environment, so movement is likely to impact on animals that feed upon them.

But importantly they also act as a “biological pump” using the carbon dioxide from the atmosphere as their food carbon source for growth, which in turn produces more food for fish.

Without this process, the concentration of carbon dixode in the atmosphere would be much higher.

The Continuous Plankton Recorder survey has been monitoring near surface plankton in the North Atlantic and North Sea for the past 70 years. It is one of the longest running marine monitoring programmes in the world.

Defra chief scientific adviser Howard Dalton, who launched the report with Environment Minister Elliot Morley, said: “The threat of climate change is becoming more certain.

“The Recorder is one of the most valuable long term datasets monitoring these tiny organisms in our seas. The shift in plankton species is surprisingly large compared to movements of plants or birds on land.

“By understanding the movement of plankton we are much better able to handle our fish resources.”

Defra said the first integrated assessment of the seas indicates fishing and climate change are having an adverse effect on marine life

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