Indicators of climate change impact on the marine ecosystems: criteria for a prioritization

18:00 Tuesday 28 May




Claudia Sebbio (Italy) 1; Francesca Giordano (Italy) 1


The Mediterranean Sea, due to its limited dimension and the characteristic of being a semi-enclosed sea, could be considered a miniature ocean where climate change can cause faster biological responses than those found in other systems on a global scale. Furthermore, processes linked to climate change interact with the effects of other anthropic disturbances, thus intensifying their impacts and making ecosystems even more vulnerable.

Therefore, it is important to improve the status and resilience of marine systems, which should be considered among the most sensitive sectors with respect to climate change, as described in the Italian Strategy for Adaptation to Climate Change (SNACC). The SNACC underlines that in Italy there is an increasing need to develop and to set up a set of climate change impact indicators at national level, in order to improve the knowledge framework underlying the implementation processes of adaptation, to strengthen and to standardize the monitoring systems of climate change impacts. In particular for marine ecosystems, the SNACC requires the identification of indicators or sets of ecological indicators that allow to anticipate, to evaluate or to identify the current changes, among the short term actions (by 2020) based on an ecosystem or “green” approach,

With the aim of establishing a set of priority indicators that could be used to monitor the effects of climate change on marine ecosystems in the Mediterranean Sea, an approach based on specific criteria is proposed.

In the first step the following criteria were defined:

i. criteria for the prioritization of the key impacts of climate change such as cause-effect link, the magnitude, the timing, the occurrence rate, persistence/reversibility, likelihood, the value of the potentially affected resources;

ii. criteria for the selection of the most appropriate impact indicators such as link with the impact, spatial coverage, time coverage, use in other contexts, costs, reliability of the methodology, periodicity of updating and sensitivity.

In a second step, starting from the information reported in the SNACC, from the indicators already used within the framework of national monitoring of the marine ecosystem quality and from a specific bibliographic research, specific indicators were selected and prioritized according to the above criteria. Therefore, in this context, the prioritization has been made on the basis of the information reported in the scientific literature, while in the future, the intention will be to validate this approach through questionnaires addressed to the scientific community and to experts in the field.