Report on the observed climate, projected climate, and projected biodiversity changes for Cairngorms National Park, Scotland under differing levels of warming

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Cairngorms National Park, Scotland, is among the top 5% of all non-marine protected areas, globally. Cairngorms is projected to be largely resilient to climate change, even with 4°C warming. As such, business as usual conservation, taking into account changes in the likelihood of extreme events (heat and drought), should largely be adequate. Individual species will be expected to shift upward in elevation, if they are able and those at the very top of the mountains may be extirpated. Averaged over the entire area, with 4°C warming (global, above pre-industrial), the area is projected to remain climatically suitable for 82.6% of its terrestrial biodiversity (fungi, plants, invertebrates, and vertebrates), with 76.7% of its area remaining an overall refugia (remaining climatically suitable for >75% of the species) for biodiversity. If warming levels were held to 2°C, 100% of the area would remain a climatic refugia and the area would remain climatically suitable for 94.5% of its terrestrial biodiversity.
Between 1961-1990 and 1991-2020 the average monthly temperature has increased by 0.3° – 1.1°C. With warming levels of 2°C the new average monthly temperature is equivalent to that currently seen 1 in 3 years in 1961-1990 for all months except September (new average equal to that seen in 1 in 20 years). Nine months have seen increases in precipitation (especially October), and the rest drier, especially September. Models project that all months except June-August will become wetter. The number of months with severe drought has more than halved between 1961-1990 and 1986-2015.
Biodiversity adaptation options generally only allow for business-as-usual conservation to 4.0°C, taking into account changes in extreme events (especially summer heat and reductions in precipitation).
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages50
Publication statusPublished - 28 May 2024


  • protected areas, biodiversity, climate change

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