Climatec Change and Its Impact
In order to understand climate change better, it is important to clarify what is climate. Climate is the average weather condition of a place recorded or observer within a period of thirty to thirty-five years. Climate can be varying in different seasons. Weather is a day to day changes in atmospheric conditions. It’s important to note that weather can have variation in just a few hours but climate takes decades to change. Climate change can be simply defined as a change of normal weather found in a particular place, this could be in terms of the amount of rainfall or temperature a place experiences in a month or year.(Milligan et al., 2009). In more general terms, climate change is a change in earth’s climate, which could simply mean change of earth usual temperature or precipitation.
Recent studies and observation show that earth temperature has increased with about one degree Fahrenheit in the last 100 years. Small changes in earth temperatures can have adverse effects. For example, some the effects are experienced as melting of ice and snow, which causes a rise in ocean and sea levels posing a great threat to submerging of islands and coastline. (WWF, 2016). Also, warming of earth’s climate has led to changes in timing when some species of plants grow.
Causes of climate change
The causes of Climate change can be categorized into anthropogenic and natural causes. Natural causes include volcanic eruptions, when a volcano erupts it ejects out large quantities of gases and ash which can influence climatic patterns for years by increasing planetary reflectivity hence causing atmospheric cooling.(Milligan et al., 2009). Ocean currents, ocean currents move a large amount of heat across the planet. The interaction between ocean currents and atmosphere produces phenomena such as El Nino. Earth detour changes, changes in the tilt of the earth can tip to climatically important changes, especially in the season’s strength. Finally, solar variations, small changes in solar output lead to climate change. (Bellard et al., 2012). Some scientists argued that some portions of warming experienced in during the half of the 20th epoch were due to variations in the solar output.
Human activities influence climate change by influencing change s in earth’s atmosphere in the quantities of greenhouse gases and aerosols. The biggest contributor of greenhouse gases is carbon emission locomotive engines, industrial processes and burning of fossil fuels to generate energy. Other human causes of climate change include deforestation, agriculture, changes in land use patterns, land clearing and other human activities that contribute to rising of greenhouse gases, hence leading to global warming.
Impacts of Climate Change
Climate change poses a great menace to species, places and peoples livelihoods. In order to address this issue appropriately, there must be an urgent reduction of carbon pollution in the atmosphere. Oceans are getting warmer and sea levels are rising which could cause submerging of coastline and low altitude islands. For example, small islands developing states already are experiencing high intensity of tropical cyclones which in turn increases the risk to life. (Bellard et al., 2012). In recent past Caribbean islands have experienced destructive hurricanes that have caused loss of life and destruction of properties. Agriculture is also affected by such extreme events hence food security is affected, soil salinization, seawater incursion into freshwater lenses and waning in the freshwater hoard. In the African continent, drier subtropics areas are becoming warmer than the moister tropics. Effects of Climate change can be classified into the categories discussed below.
Climate Change and Forests
Forests are vital in that they help regulate the world’s climate by absorbing carbon. Carbon dioxide is a greenhouse gas that causes global warming. The more the temperature rises, the more the Sub-Arctic Forests retreats north. In areas such as the Amazon where there is a large ecosystem, as the temperatures continue to rise and the number of trees decreases, the more species that depend on the forest go extinct. (Intergovernmental Panel, 2014). Also, the more trees die, the more they emit the carbon dioxide they had stored into the atmosphere adding to atmospheric greenhouse gases. Climate change also affects the length of the growing season. The warmer the temperatures, the longer it takes for forests to grow. Warm temperatures also affect the geographic ranges of some tree species. Some species may move to higher attitudes. Climate change increases the risk of drought which in turn increases wildfire risks. Trees produce sap, which protects them from destructive insects. During a drought, the ability to produce sap is greatly reduced making the trees susceptible to attacks from insects. (Milligan et al., 2009).
Climate Change and Water
The warmer the temperature in the air, the higher its capacity to hold higher water content. The result of this is that rainfall patterns become more extreme resulting in floods. In the U.S alone the amount of precipitation received has increased since 1900. In some areas, the increase is greater than the entire national average. In the years to come, more winter and spring precipitation is projected for the northern United States and less for the Southwest. Freshwater sources are already under a lot of pressure from silting, drainage, extraction, invasive species and much more. (National Geographic, 2016). Combine these stresses with climate change the more the impact. Extremes of drought and flooding are becoming more and more common. The high temperatures have also caused glaciers to melt resulting in a huge impact on the freshwater ecosystem. For example, the Himalayan glaciers that feed great Asian rivers such as the Ganges, Yellow and Indus are on this course.
Climate Change and Oceans and Seas
Oceans absorb a lot of carbon dioxide preventing it from reaching the upper atmosphere. This prevents it from reaching the upper atmosphere. However, the warmer temperatures become and the more the quantity of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere increases, the more the oceans have become more acidic. Life forms that exist under the ocean have been greatly affected. The most affected are coral reefs. Carbon dioxide starves the coral reefs from receiving oxygen which results in dramatic bleaching and the eventual death of the coral reef. It is estimated that if the rate of global warming continues to increase at the current rate, then by 2050 just 5% if Australia’s Great Barrier Reef will remain. (NASA, 2010). Currently, this is the largest coral reef in the world. About half a billion folks depend on fish that live on coral reefs as their foremost source of protein, which goes to show just how important coral reefs are.
Climate Change and Wildlife
In years to come, climate change is expected to be the leading root of species extinction. According to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate change an average rise of temperature by 1.50 C will put 20-30% of species at risk of extinction. If the global temperature increases by 30 C, most ecosystems will struggle. (NASA, 2010). Most of the species that are at the risk of extinction are found in areas relentlessly affected by climate change. The rate of climate change is too high for species to be able to acclimatize. For example, climate change leads to increases in sea levels, shrink in the tree line, forest fires and much more. This has led to the habitat of most species such as the tigers, snow leopards, and Asian rhinos fragmenting. (Céline et al., 2012). Other animals such as the African that require up to 225 liters of water each day are forced to travel huge distances as a result of a change in weather patterns. The Arctic is melting at an astonishing rate. Polar bears rely on ice to survive. Seasons have changed and sea ice is melting prior and forming much later than usual. It makes it grim for females to go onto the sea ice to feed during spring or to go inland during autumn to the den.
The effects of climate change are not waiting for a roughly far-flung future sign. The consequences are being felt right now. Some of the effects that scientists predicted previously are occurring now. A good example is the forfeiture of sea ice and hastened sea level increase as a result of global warming. Global climate change will continue to occur over this century and beyond. However, the magnitude of those changes depends on the magnitude of greenhouse gases discharged globally and how delicate the earth’s climate is to those emissions. (Milligan et al., 2009). It means that if we are able to cut down on a number of emissions we can be able to reduce the rate at which climate change is occurring.
Bellard, Céline, et al. “Impacts of climate change on the future of biodiversity.” Ecology Letters 15.4 (2012): 365-377.
Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. Climate Change 2014–Impacts, Adaptation, and Vulnerability: Regional Aspects. Cambridge University Press, (2014).
Milligan, R. S. Holt, V.W. Lloyd, R..Impacts of climate change and environmental factors on reproduction and development in wildlife. The Royal Society Publishing.(2009).
NASA. The Consequences of Climate Change. Global Climate Change: Vital Signs of the Planet. Retrieved from https://clmate.nasa.gov/effects. (2010)
National Geographic. Effects of Global Warming. National Geographic. Retrieved from https://www.nationalgeographic.com/environment/global-warming/global-warming-effects/ (2016).
WWF. The Effects of Climate Change. Retrieved from https://www.wwf.org.uk/updates/effects-climate-change (2016).