Climate change (CC) is a key, global driver of change of marine ecosystems. At local and regional scales, other local human stressors (LS) can interact with CC and modify its effects on marine ecosystems. Understanding the response of the marine environment to the combined effects of CC and LS is crucial to inform marine ecosystem-based management and planning.

This review explored how cumulative effects assessments (CEAs) have addressed CC in the marine realm and discuss progress and shortcomings of current approaches.

The results show that globally, the effects of 52 LS and of 27 CC-related stressors on the marine environment have been studied in combination. CC generally intensified the effects of LS at species level. At trophic groups and ecosystem levels, the effects of CC either intensified or mitigated the effects of other LS depending on the trophic groups or the environmental conditions involved, thus suggesting that the combined effects of CC and LS are context-dependent and vary among and within ecosystems.

The authors highlight that large-scale assessments on the spatial interaction and combined effects of CC and LS remain limited. They also stress that the results strengthen the urgent need of CEAs to capture local-scale effects of stressors that can exacerbate climate-induced changes, which will allow identifying management measures that aid counteracting CC effects at relevant scales.

Gissi et al. (2020) A review of the combined effects of climate change and other local human stressors on the marine environment. Science of the Total Environment 755:142564.