November 3rd, release of An Inconvenient Truth. "An Inconvenient Truth" has become the third most watched documentary in history. Al Gore and Paramount Classics present the situation of the planet to climate change. Some of the effects of climate change in the Cantabrian
An Inconvenient Truth, in the Cantabrian
The data has been extracted from documents of the Ministry of Environment, European Union agencies and the Fisheries Service of the Principality of Asturias (about salmon).
In the Cantabrian studies on how the climate is more complex than in the Mediterranean. While in the Mediterranean ocean currents play a little effect on climate, in the Atlantic Arc has a vital role with the Gulf as the indisputable. An example is that the Cantabrian geographically (band between 43 º and 44 º north) as far north as Vladivostok (Russian Pacific Coast) and Hokkaido (Japan), where the winters are long and harsh, with average temperatures of January is -13 °, but thanks to the effect of the Gulf Stream in the Atlantic Arc, it is a much more benign climate that correspond to their geographical location. Most studies of the evolution of the climate change point to a warmer, leading to a Mediterranean climate. Highlights of the 2004 report of the European Environment Agency, "Impacts of climate change in Europe", which predicts that 2080 Asturias will have average temperatures of up to 4 degrees and a third less rain. It also warns that two out of five plants and animals may disappear.
The Cantabrian Sea heats
For INDUROT, the most notable effects of climate change will occur in the Cantabrian mountain range. However for our association, is the coast, the intertidal area (beaches and masons) which will be most damaged. These changes already are evident. Cantabric water has warmed a degree and a half in the last three decades. The variation of one degree produces drastic changes in the fishing banks. But also because the arrival of new species. Examples include the case in autumn 2005, when people captured a diamond squid in the Cantabrian for the first time (rhombus Thisanoteuthis), weighed 14 kilos and its natural habitat is much further south.
But the melting of the polar cap leads also curious side effects, the arrival of pockets of very cold water from the Arctic and with them also come with natural species that are from further north, so the Coordinator for Study and Protection of Marine Species (Cepesma) warns that the disruptive effect of melting polar arrival and unusual species of seals as the gray seal, common seal or the seal helmet (the latter is the habitat in the circumpolar Arctic). Common seal of the CEPESMA located in Asturias has 7 copies, with even the birth of the first copy in the Iberian Peninsula.
Sea levels are rising
Studies on sea-level rise ranging from moderates, such as documents of the Ministry of Environment working with a possible sea level rise by the end of the century 68 cm. A report indicates an increase of up to several meters. This is in addition to an increased intensity of storms. Both factors significantly affect the beaches of Asturias, as most are small deposits of sand depending on the storms and currents. Small beaches could disappear in a few decades.
The beaches have two scenarios, which will jeopardize their dune complexes, as the cases of Espartal, Xagó and berries. And it will disappear completely if it is not applied any kind of solution, such as San Lorenzo and Salinas. These two major beaches in fact have already been touched by death because of urbanism. Both Salinas de Gijón as entire neighborhoods were built on ancient sand dunes. In both places has been built up almost to the tide line. Now climate change will be the high cost of this irrational urban planning, having to plan measures for the regeneration of artificial sand, or construction of dams.
Buildings on the coast
The administration acknowledges that climate change impacts must be taken into account in carrying out the works and urban planning. For example in the document "Preliminary Assessment of the Impacts in Spain Effect of Climate Change" published by the Ministry of Environment, warns that:
"The impacts of the construction of infrastructure and housing in the coastal strip are to be considered, therefore, not in the context of current impacts, but that generated in the context of a rising sea level.”
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But we have not found any reference to this factor in the PGOU (General Urban Plan).
Climate change threatens to stations such as the Asturian-Valgrande Pajares, that does not exceed the height of 2100 meters of altitude. Only the snow guns higher up in the future viability would Pajares and San Isidro. Rising temperatures lead to a drastic drop in precipitation in the form of snow. Experts warn that investment in the ski resorts should take account of this phenomenon for those who are below the altitude of 2000 meters.
Impacts of Climate Change on the Nature of Asturias
Disappearance of chestnut and beech forests:
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Rising temperatures will change the composition of forests in the Cantabrian. Chestnut and beech are the main losers in this new climate, which will tend to disappear and to focus on the environment of the few rivers that have not undergone the alteration of the human being. In the new landscape, oaks will begin to impose, typical of the Mediterranean area, and Rebollo, a type of oak for a very distinctive landscape straddling the Atlantic and Mediterranean climate.
Increased forest pests and diseases:
Experts say that the rise in temperatures, especially in winter, favors some insects undergoing very rapid life cycles and have to spend one to two generations, with corresponding risks of the flora. Some effects have been noticed on the chestnut. Researchers have found several diseases in this species, mainly caused by fungi, which could be directly related to climate change.
Experts foresee significant changes in the types of fires that will suffer in the medium term the Cantabrian mountain range by climate change, as will become more virulent and more hectares will be affected.
Salmon disappears from Asturian rivers:
The warming of water in rivers could become the main threat to the future of salmon. At this time, the average temperature in winter salmon channels around ten degrees Celsius. If it exceeds the twelve, would be in the presence of endangered salmon in the waters of Asturias. The pollution of rivers and marine overfishing results in Asturias having the most endangered salmon populations in Europe
Species of the Cantabrian Mountains: Bears and grouse:
The mountain range is home to species that have become isolated in it since the last glaciation, such as the capercaillie.
Climate change causes changes in plants that are key to feeding these species. Capercaillie and the bear will have trouble adapting to the characteristics of future forests, although the change will be more sensitive to the grouse.
Rising temperatures will bring the arrival of invasive plant and animal species. Besides natural history of displacement, i.e. species of the Mediterranean peninsular territories that settle in Asturias, as already occurred for millennia, but also an invasion of species produced artificially, due to world trade and low awareness in the care of exotic pets. There is an invasion of foreign species that are better adapted to new weather conditions and natural enemies are not good to its progress.
Pollution is now the great plague of amphibians, but the change in water temperature of lakes and rivers will lead to the disappearance of many species.
Traditional fisheries such as anchovies or sardines may be reduced or removed by changing the temperature of the water and ocean currents.
Species of the intertidal area:
The sea level rises and increases intensity of storms affecting our beaches, causing severe alterations in the species that inhabit it.
More data and information on this and other topics
Antonio Rodriguez Dosantos
Director of the association "Recovery and Research Group on Natural Areas"
About the author