Working Group II: Impacts, Adaptation and Vulnerability

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5.7.5. Vulnerability

Specific vulnerable elements include reduction and loss of lake and river ice, loss of habitat for coldwater fish, increases in extinctions and invasions of exotics, and potential exacerbation of existing pollution problems such as eutrophication.

Adaptation to climate change may induce other negative effects related to secondary pressures from new hydrologic engineering structures, poleward transport by humans of fauna and flora adapted to warmer lakes and streams, and interactions resulting from increased stocking and relocation of recreational and aquacultural endeavors.

Inland waters are affected hydrologically, physically, chemically, and biologically by climate change (Arnell et al., 1996, Cushing, 1997). One reason for their vulnerability is that lakes, rivers, and wetlands integrate and reflect human and natural events in their watersheds and airsheds (Naiman et al., 1995b). Interactions with changes to their watersheds, riparian shorelines, and human use of water combine to make lake and stream ecosystems vulnerable. Potential changes in quantity and quality of water reduce the ability of these waters to provide goods and services.

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