What are the effects of climate change?
Climate change affects both humans and the environment.
Increasing temperatures are causing both ice sheets and glaciers to melt. This is leading to water currently being stored as ice on land is returning to oceans. This is leading to sea level rise.
As temperatures are increasing sea ice, such as that found in the Arctic, is melting, leading to the loss of habitats. This is already having a negative impact on polar bear communities.
Sea level rise will result in more flooding in low lying coastal areas. Areas such as the Maldives and are likely to flood more often.
Rates of coastal erosion will increase as sea levels rise. Erosion is likely to occur even during neap high tides (low high tides). In addition to this, the increased frequency of intense storm events will contribute towards coastal erosion.
Coral reefs are experiencing bleaching due to sea temperatures increasing. When water is too warm, corals will expel the algae living in their tissues causing the coral to turn completely white
Sea levels are also rising due to thermal expansion. Water molecules increase in size as they are warmed. This leads to sea level rise.
As temperature and precipitation levels change across the world the distribution of species and biodiversity will change from area to area. Species found in the tropics will now be found in higher latitudes. In other cases, habitats will be completely destroyed due to climate change.
Desertification is likely to increase in arid areas.
People living on or close to low lying coastal areas will need to migrate due to their land becoming inundated with sea water. This could cause overpopulation in other areas.
Water scarcity will increase in some areas due to lower levels of precipitation. Additionally, areas that have previously not experienced water shortage will begin to.
Precipitation levels in will increase in some areas of the world e.g. UK leading to a greater risk of flooding.
Some farmers will experience an increase in pest problems as insects migrate as the result of changing weather patterns.
Farmers in higher altitude locations could benefit from an increase in temperature, whereas those at a lower altitude could find they experience lower crop yields due to increasing temperatures.
Lower crop yields will lead to an increase in malnutrition, famine and death as the result of higher temperatures and less rainfall in some areas.
As the weather becomes more extreme more money will need to be spent on forecasting and preventative measures to reduce the risk of flooding. Also, some countries will need to allocate a greater proportion of their GDP to supporting communities following extreme weather events.