Climate Change in Scotland

 

 

 

 

Wildlife and Ecology

The overall impact of climate change on ecology and biodiversity in Scotland is likely to be modest, with many species adapting to any gradual environmental change. New species are likely to appear as their ranges extend north from England into Scotland. However, some likely negative impacts include:

  • The area of salt marsh habitats may decrease as rising sea levels swamp exisiting areas of salt marsh and close on sea defences. Such a loss of salt marsh may have an impact on many brid species, including large flocks of overwintering ducks, geese and wading birds.
  • Mountain species are also likely to see a restriction in their ranges.
  • Warmer temperatures will push the alpine range to ever higher altitudes, will result in the loss of presistent snow patches, and will allow the invasion of plant and animal species from lower altitudes.
  • Mountain birds, such as the ptarmigan, dottereal and snow bunting are likely to suffer as result of climate warming in Scotland. The reliance of the snow bunting on snow as a habitat means that it may become extinct in Scotland.
  • Sub-arctic willows and other arctic-alpine plant species are likely to be lost.
  • Maerl beds on the west coast are at increased risk of storm damage and species ranges may change.

 

Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries

  • Increased average temperatures and an extended growing season may allow the cultivation of a wider range of crops, including some more valuable varieties than those currently suitable for the Scottish climate.
  • Increased atmospheric carbon dioxide concentrations, precipitation and temperature may all help to increase growth rates and productivity in Scottish forestry (Broadmeadow 2000).
  • Possibly major impact on slamon and sea trout breeding and distribution due to changing water temperatures and oceanic circulation.

 

Households

  • Structural damage resulting from severe storms and an increased incidence of damp are likely.
  • The number of dry days for building construction may be reduced by increased rainfall.
  • Heating bills may well fall as a result of warmer temperatures and a shortened winter period.
  • 2002 saw the first reported case of Lily Beetle in Scotland, a garden pest spreading further north in the UK each year (RHS 2003).

 

Social

  • Scotland, as in all other UK regions, will come under increasing pressure to accept economic migrants driven from their own countries as a direct or indirect result of climate change.
  • Human health may be affected by increased damp in housing, new pests and diseases, and more rapid spread of existing diseases.
  • More wet days may increase the number of road accidents, while more frequent storm events could also increase casualty numbers.

 

Economics

Climate change is likely to have a very mixed impact on Scotland's economy. Though agriculture and forestry may well benefit from increased productivity and a wider scope for crop variety, the skiing industry is likely to all but disappear. Some key impacts so far identified include:

  • Loss of working days in construction and similar outdoor industries due to increased rainfall.
  • Increased cost of disease prevention due to introduction of new species and diseases.
  • Savings in fuel costs due to warmer temperatures.
  • Increased spending on flood control and defence.
  • Rising insurance costs for buildings in potential flood areas.
  • Greater productivity for forestry and some types of agriculture.
  • Greater costs in maintaining good water and sewerage services given increased rainfall.
  • Increased tourism due to increased number of warm summer days and shorter winter season, though sport angling may be adversely affected.

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