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Article

Influences of Climate Change and Variability on Estuarine Ecosystems: An Impact Study in Selected European, South American and Asian Countries

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Research and Transfer Centre “Sustainable Development and Climate Change Management’’, Hamburg University of Applied Sciences, Ulmenliet 20, 21033 Hamburg, Germany
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Department of Natural Sciences, Manchester Metropolitan University, Chester Street, Manchester M1 5GD, UK
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Facultad de Ciencias, Universidad de la República (UdelaR), Instituto de Ecología y Ciencias Ambientales (IECA), Oceanografía y Ecología Marina, Iguá 4225, Montevideo 11400, Uruguay
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Centre for Functional Ecology-Science for People & the Planet, Department of Life Sciences, University of Coimbra, Calçada Martim de Freitas, 3000-456 Coimbra, Portugal
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Department of Urban and Regional Planning, Khulna University of Engineering & Technology (KUET), Khulna 9203, Bangladesh
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Directorate of the Environment (DINAMA), Climate Change Division (DCC), NAPA Coastal Areas 25 de Mayo, Montevideo 11000, Uruguay
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Center for Geopolitical and Strategic Studies & Institute for Global Innovation and Development, East China Normal University, Shanghai 200062, China
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State Key Laboratory of Cryospheric Science, Northwest Institute of Eco-Environment and Resources, Chinese Academy Sciences, Lanzhou 730000, China
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School of Urban and Regional Sciences, East China Normal University, Shanghai 200241, China
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Academic Editor: Li He
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2022, 19(1), 585; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph19010585
Received: 10 December 2021 / Revised: 29 December 2021 / Accepted: 31 December 2021 / Published: 5 January 2022
It is well-known that climate change significantly impacts ecosystems (at the macro-level) and individual species (at the micro-level). Among the former, estuaries are the most vulnerable and affected ecosystems. However, despite the strong relations between climate change and estuaries, there is a gap in the literature regarding international studies across different regions investigating the impacts of climate change and variability on estuaries in different geographical zones. This paper addresses this need and reviews the impacts of climate change, variability and extreme weather on estuaries. It emphasises the following: (i) a set of climate parameters governing estuarine hydrology and processes; and (ii) a sample of countries in Asia (Bangladesh), Europe (Portugal) and South America (Uruguay). We reviewed the influences of the climatic drivers of the estuarine hydrology, ecological processes and specific species in estuarine communities across the selected geographical regions, along with an analysis of their long-term implications. The key results from the three estuaries are as following: (i) Hilsa fish, of which the catches contribute to 10% of the total earnings of the fishery sector (1% of GDP), are affected by climate-forced hydrological and productivity changes in the Meghna; (ii) extreme droughts and short-term severe precipitation have driven the long-term abundance and spatial distribution of both fish larvae and juveniles/adults in the Mondego; and (iii) the river inflow and fluctuations increases since the early 1970s have contributed to variations in the salinity, the stratification, the oxygen, nutrient and trophic levels and the spatial pattern for the life stages of planktonic species, fish biomass and captures in the Rio de la Plata. The results suggested that immediate action is needed to reduce the vulnerability of estuaries to climate stressors, mainly the changing river flows, storms and sea-level rise. As a contribution to addressing current problems, we described a set of adaptation strategies to foster climate resilience and adaptive capacity (e.g., early-warning systems, dam management to prevent overflows and adaptive fisheries management). The implications of this paper are two-fold. Firstly, it showcases a variety of problems that estuaries face from changing climate conditions. Secondly, the paper outlines the need for suitable adaptive management strategies to safeguard the integrity of such vital ecosystems. View Full-Text
Keywords: climate threats; species distribution; adaptation measures; estuaries climate threats; species distribution; adaptation measures; estuaries
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MDPI and ACS Style

Leal Filho, W.; Nagy, G.J.; Martinho, F.; Saroar, M.; Erache, M.G.; Primo, A.L.; Pardal, M.A.; Li, C. Influences of Climate Change and Variability on Estuarine Ecosystems: An Impact Study in Selected European, South American and Asian Countries. Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2022, 19, 585. https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph19010585

AMA Style

Leal Filho W, Nagy GJ, Martinho F, Saroar M, Erache MG, Primo AL, Pardal MA, Li C. Influences of Climate Change and Variability on Estuarine Ecosystems: An Impact Study in Selected European, South American and Asian Countries. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health. 2022; 19(1):585. https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph19010585

Chicago/Turabian Style

Leal Filho, Walter, Gustavo J. Nagy, Filipe Martinho, Mustafa Saroar, Mónica Gómez Erache, Ana Lígia Primo, Miguel A. Pardal, and Chunlan Li. 2022. "Influences of Climate Change and Variability on Estuarine Ecosystems: An Impact Study in Selected European, South American and Asian Countries" International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health 19, no. 1: 585. https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph19010585

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