Narrowing in on Europe and Portugal, Europe is being impacted by glacial retreat, colonization and invasion of foreign plant species, an increase in forest fires, a northward distributional shift of aquatic species and seabirds, and an expansion of warm water species in to the Mediterranean ocean. Of these climatic impacts, sea-level rises poses one of largest threats towards Europe. The ocean’s circulation is driven by the salinity of our oceans due to the weight of salt water in comparison to fresh water, thus influencing a vertical movement of water to sink and drive the oceanic currents towards the North Atlantic. However, with the increased melting of snow and ice in the arctic due to an increase in greenhouse gases, temperature increase, and the albedo effect, there has been an influx of freshwater altering the circulation of the ocean which has the ability to alter the temperature of Europe to be one of cooler, freezing temperatures.
Background on the Azores Islands
The Archipelago of Azores is an autonomous island region off of Portugal, composed of nine islands that are identified by their unstable volcanic features and earthquakes, relatively low topographical features, and their wet and moderate climate. As of 2015, the population consists of 245,766 inhabitants. Their economic and labor market consists of many different sectors, however those that are dependent on natural resources for viability are wholesale and retail trade, transport, agricultural dairy farming, fisheries, and tourism. Furthermore, these economic sectors represent 26,400 of their 103,500 employed inhabitants as of 2015, roughly one quarter. These sectors are increasing in popularity due to people taking advantage of the unique ecosystem, landscape, and biodiversity that surrounds them and adapting to new livelihoods for their strategic cultural and economic gains.
Contrastingly, considering their use of natural resources as a way to employ just over a quarter of their population, this increases their vulnerability and sensitivity to the hazardous impacts of climate change. The stakeholders now become those at stake. A few of the climate change impacts that this region are facing are an increase in higher atmospheric temperatures, reduced rainfall and depletion of reliable water sources, extreme weather events, and sea-level rise. Overall, these impacts will affect the biodiversity in their marine and coastal ecosystems, impact the tourism industry and the agriculture and fishery industry, all the meanwhile affecting their societies secure and reliable access to water, food, and energy, something that is limited and challenging as a small island community.