The Pew Center Report has concluded that the coastal and marine ecosystems will experience the following if climate change keeps on the path it is on:
-Temperature changes in coastal and marine ecosystems will influence organism metabolism and alter ecological processes such as productivity and species interactions. Species are adapted to specific ranges of environmental temperature. As temperatures change, species’ geographic distributions will expand or contract, creating new combinations of species that will interact in unpredictable ways. Species that are unable to migrate or compete with other species for resources may face local or global extinction.
-Changes in precipitation and sea-level rise will have far-reaching consequences for the water balance of coastal ecosystems. Increases or decreases in precipitation and runoff will respectively increase the risk of coastal flooding or drought. Meanwhile, sea-level rise will gradually inundate coastal lands. Coastal wetlands may migrate inland with rising sea levels, but only if they are not obstructed by human development.
-Climate change is likely to alter patterns of wind and water circulation in the ocean environment. Such changes may influence the vertical movement of ocean waters, increasing or decreasing the availability of essential nutrients and oxygen to marine organisms. Changes in ocean circulation patterns can also cause substantial changes in regional ocean and land temperatures and the geographic distributions of marine species.
-Critical coastal ecosystems such as wetlands, estuaries, and coral reefs are particularly vulnerable to climate change. Such ecosystems are among the most biologically productive environments in the world. Their existence at the interface between the terrestrial and marine environment exposes them to a wide variety of human and natural stressors. The added burden of climate change may further degrade these valuable ecosystems, threatening their ecological sustainability and the flow of goods and services they provide to human populations.
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