TEFRA – Terrestrial Ecosystems of the Falklands – a Climate Change Risk Assessment
In 2013 the Trust was part of a successful bid to the EU for funds to investigate the possible impacts of potential climate change in the Falklands. The 3 year project is called – Terrestrial Ecosystems of the Falklands – a Climate Change Risk Assessment. The project is led by RBG Kew and employs Dr Rebecca Upson to co-ordinate and lead the work-packages. The Trust’s tasks are to :-
- Collate all weather records for the region
- Commission the University of East Anglia Climate Change Unit to carry out the first proper climate change analysis for the Falklands
- Investigate the impact of climate change on vital ecosystem services-particularly soil characteristics such as Carbon storage and subsequently on agriculture
- Liase with colleagues in the University of Magallanes to source weather records for southern Patagonia.
In May, the Trust’s consultant, Jim McAdam, helped lead a climate change workshop in the Falklands to help involve local stakeholders in the project through a process of information, seeking their views on climate change and how they would prioritise the various risks. This helped to determine the direction of the project and there will be a follow-up workshop in 2015.
What are the climate change predictions for the Falklands? (see full report here)
- Climate fairly constant since records began-slight temperature rise
- Predicted Significant temperature rise (+3 C) till 2100
- No change in daily temperature range or total Precipitation
- Similar trends for S Patagonia
- Seasonality-can’t predict but warmer air holds more moisture so heavier rain likely
- Storminess. Likely to increase-need to do a bit more work on this
What is the potential impact of these on….?
1. Potential Evapo-Transpiration
2. Soils. There is no proper inventory of soils of the Falklands. The Trust’s first task – with Consultants Rodney Burton MSc and Tom McAdam MSc – has been to try and describe and quantify the soils of the Falklands from existing sources.
The areas that are being highlighted as of most concern in relation to climate change and biodiversity are the potential for:
- Drier soils
- Increased soil erosion
- Changes in invasive plants
- Agricultural intensification
- Changes in the ranges of different plants
- Habitat disturbance by extreme events (e.g. increased storminess, increased fires)
These priorities take into account likely impacts on dominant as well as vulnerable species and habitats and also the level of perceived urgency. So there are, as expected, several cross-cutting themes such as soil health that are of concern for both agriculture and the biodiversity on which it depends.
The areas that were highlighted as of most concern in relation to climate change and agriculture are the potential for:
- Increased soil erosion
- Increased run-off/ erosion caused by high intensity rainfall events
- Increased water use by animals in dry periods
- Reduced water resources available for direct removal caused by changes to runoff and recharge
- The need to increase national food security
- Increased greenhouse gas emissions due to enhanced soil biological activity from warmer soils