26 Feb 2024, 13:27
Sören Amelang

Researchers sound alarm over “unprecedented changes” in Wadden Sea due to climate change

Clean Energy Wire

Extreme weather events, rising sea levels and higher temperatures are straining the delicate ecosystem of the Wadden Sea, researchers have warned. “Climate change is having profound effects on the Wadden Sea,” the Trilateral Wadden Sea Cooperation found in a status report, which was conducted by experts from Denmark, Germany, and the Netherlands, which border the UNESCO World Heritage site. The Wadden Sea is an intertidal zone in the south-east of the North Sea, where shallow waters, tidal flats and wetlands have resulted in a unique ecosystem with high biological diversity, which is an important area for breeding and migrating birds. “Since the previous Quality Status Report on climate change of 2017, we have witnessed unprecedented changes,” said lead author Katja Philippart, the director of the Wadden Academy and scientist at the Royal Netherlands Institute for Sea Research (NIOZ), in a press release. She pointed to the first mass summer mortality of cockles in 2018, an almost 50 percent decrease in river outflows and an almost 60 percent increase in the rate of sea level rise.

Philippart said that “finding pathways to allow more time for the ecosystem to adapt to these aspects of climate change will be a major challenge for all involved in monitoring, research and management of the Wadden Sea. The report says that temperature increases shift the distribution of species and lead to “ecological mismatches.” It warns that the impact of climate change adds pressure to an ecosystem that is already influenced by other human activities. The scientists call for a collective effort “to implement effective mitigation and adaptation measures to safeguard the Wadden Sea's ecological integrity.”

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