Climate change impacts in Scotland

The unprecedented rate of human-induced climate change threatens plants and animals unable to adapt quickly enough to its effects.

Climate change is happening now. How we choose to respond won’t just affect the survival of individual species and our distinctive landscapes. Climate change impacts will also affect our economy, culture and lifestyles.

Climate change is the single greatest threat to Scotland’s habitats, whether they’re found on our mountain tops or our seabeds. Some habitats will be directly affected. More often, climate change will alter the intricate ecological balances that let plants and animals grow and thrive.

Many of Scotland’s species are highly adapted to specific climatic conditions, meaning that climate change will have drastic effects. Again, the impacts may be direct or indirect.

Climate influences the landform processes that shape Scotland’s mountains, rivers and coasts, and maintain our habitats, ecosystems and landscapes. Thus climate change will affect the dynamics of these processes, and in turn the rocks, landforms and soils upon which plants, animals and humans live.

Increasing ocean temperatures and ocean acidification are the main consequences of climate change and rising CO2 levels on the marine environment. These warming seas will in turn cause further catastrophic changes, like rising sea levels and loss of polar ice.

Scotland’s nature and landscapes are vital to many sectors of our economy, and these may be affected by climate change impacts. Food and energy supply security, water quality and availability, flood risk, cultural heritage, recreation and human health are all likely to be affected.

Find information on the effects of climate change on these sectors, on the Adaptation Scotland website.

Find out more

Climate change and nature information sheet

Podcast: How climate change is affecting our weird and wonderful weather

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