Climate change is warming UK coastal waters, affecting the survival of seabirds, and increasing severe storms, flooding and coastal erosion, according to a new report.
The report from the Marine Climate Change Impacts Partnership (MCCIP), published on Monday, aims to highlight just how much climate change has affected the UK's marine environment and what the future impacts might be.
It revealed that 2006 was the second warmest year for UK coastal waters since records began in 1870, and seven of the 10 warmest years have been in the last decade.
Models predict fewer storms in the future, but the report concluded there will be increased numbers of severe storms and flooding is expected to increase.
Richard Lochhead, cabinet secretary for rural affairs and the environment, said: "Climate change, including marine climate change, is one of the most serious threats facing us today.
"It is a truly global issue and can only be tackled if we work together. Our seas play a vital role in regulating our climate and are a lifeline for the communities that live around them.
"Our winters are getting wetter and warmer, sea levels are rising and coastal erosion is increasing. Our marine wildlife is now having to cope with these as well as other pressures, and is beginning to suffer as a result."
Jonathan Shaw, minister for marine, landscape and rural affairs, said: "Healthy seas are central to our wellbeing, shaping our climate as well as providing food and livelihoods.
"The MCCIP project shows the value of working together to protect the marine environment and to find sustainable solutions to the challenges we all face."
Coastal erosion, which MCCIP researchers believe will increase as a result of climate change, is already occurring along 17% of the UK coastline.
Warmer winters have been strongly linked to reduced breeding success and survival in some seabird populations, the report said.
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