JOURNAL ARTICLE

Future increase in harmful algal blooms in the North Sea due to climate change

L Peperzak
Water Science and Technology: a Journal of the International Association on Water Pollution Research 2005, 51 (5): 31-6
15918356
In temperate seas such as the North Sea harmful (toxic) algal blooms will probably increase as a result of climate change. This conclusion was reached after investigating the projected effect of climate change for the year 2100 in Dutch coastal waters (4 degrees C temperature rise and increased water column stratification) on the growth rates of six harmful and two non-harmful phytoplankton species. Micro algae form the basis of the marine food chain. However, toxin-producing species may seriously disrupt the food web and lead to fish kills and human intoxication. Two species with estimated doubled growth rates in 2100, F. japonica and C. antiqua, entered Europe via ship's ballast water or shellfish imports. This stresses the need to legally regulate such invasion routes in order to prevent the import of novel species. Future toxic phytoplankton blooms may further devaluate ecosystem deliverables such as fish production or recreational use. This devaluation can be estimated by monetary value assessments that are needed in cost-benefit analyses for policy guidance. The lack of understanding of future climate, ecosystem functioning and its response to climate change calls for a scientific effort to improve our knowledge on present day coastal ecosystem functioning and its resilience.

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