At the global level, current greenhouse gas emissions correspond most closely to the IPCC Regional Concentration Pathway (RCP) 8.5. Within the Azores ecoregion, this scenario projects a 2.5°C warming above mean conditions for the years 2050–2099. There is little spatial variability in projected warming across this relatively small ICES ecoregion (see Figure 6).
Human-induced climate change and ocean acidification may be expected to have a significant influence on the ecoregion in the future. There is, however, little or no information at present on existing or predicted future changes in the biology of the ecoregion as a consequence of climate change.
This ecoregion is a hotspot for cold-water corals, and laboratory studies have demonstrated that cold-water corals are vulnerable to ocean acidification.
Figure 6: Ensemble mean sea surface temperature (SST) from the 5th Coupled Model Intercomparison Project (CMIP5), interpolated on a 1° × 1° grid for the entire year in the Azores ecoregion. Left panel: Historical SST for 1956–2005. Right panel: Difference in the mean climate in the future time period (RCP8.5: 2050–2099), compared to the historical reference period.