With increasing human population, large scale climate changes, and the interaction of multiple stressors, understanding cumulative effects on marine ecosystems is increasingly important. Two major drivers of change in coastal and marine ecosystems are industrial developments with acute impacts on local ecosystems, and global climate change stressors with widespread impacts. We conducted a cumulative effects mapping analysis of the marine waters of British Columbia, Canada, under different scenarios: climate change and planned developments. At the coast-wide scale, climate change drove the largest change in cumulative effects with both widespread impacts and high vulnerability scores.
The rapidly progressing field of cumulative effects mapping is highly dependent on data quality and quantity. Availability of spatial data on the location of human activities on or affecting the ocean has substantially improved our understanding of potential cumulative effects. However, datasets for some activities remain poor and increased access to current, high resolution data are needed.