North Sea, United Kingdom

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Key Facts

Global warming in the North Sea is affecting plankton and the marine food chain along with the pressures of overfishing. This warming has altered the distribution and abundance of the plankton and changed their seasonal cycles. These changes, associated with warmer surface temperatures, have already affected other species that depend on plankton for food. Eventually global warming will also create a significant impact on the marine ecosystem, causing concern throughout the fishing community.


Many English coastal towns have long depended on the North Sea fishery for food and income, but global warming is having an extremely negative effect on this. The resulting disruption of the ecosystem could damage the fishing industry and hurt North Sea coastal communities from the United Kingdom to Scandinavia. This global warming also can affect other important species further along in the food chain.
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Top Impact


  • Cold water animals are being forced to move to colder waters and warm water animals are moving to places that were previously too cold for them
  • There are diseases being found in waters that scientists thought were too cold to handle them
  • Coral is slowly loosing its color as water temperatures raise above the temperature that coral can handle

Other Impacts


  • Crop and livestock productivity is declining because of high temperatures and stress caused by drought
  • Areas that normally rely on rain fall for agriculture are now requiring irrigation
  • Planting and harvesting is delayed due to shifting seasonal rain patterns
  • Primary growing temperatures are shifting to higher latitudes, causing lower latitude areas less productive
  • Warmer waters pose a threat for human consumption of fish, like increased risk of infectious diseases
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Future climate change will intensify the effects on all aspects of the marine ecosystems. It is expected that within 85 years, the average surface temperature will rise as much as 5.4 degrees. If this happens, North Sea plankton will start blooming even earlier.

Regional Solutions

European global warming solutions include binding national commitments to reduce emissions, the EUs emission trading scheme, and support for its renewable energy and energy efficiency industries.