YOUR GUIDE TO THE GREATEST CHALLENGE NOW FACING PLANET EARTH

CLIMATE CHANGE

 

Weather Patterns 

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TEMPERATURES

In 2001 scientists declared that "overwhelming odds" pointed to global average temperatures rising 4 to 7 degrees over the coming century. As early as 2030 the planet would likely heat up 1 to 2 degrees. By comparison, a one-degree temperature rise was observed over the past century. (The study is funded in part by the National Science Foundation (NSF) and appears in the July 20, 2001 issue of the journal Science.)

In 2007, a United Nations panel of 2500 scientists from 130 countries concluded that temperatures are likely to rise 5.4 degrees (3 degrees Celsius) by the year 2100. 

PRECIPITATION

Much more rain is anticipated in coming decades as the ice caps melt.  Tropical hurricanes may actually become less frequent, according to U.N. panel of scientists, but may nonetheless increase in severity.  At the same time, drier weather is anticipated in much of the American West, especially in the SouthWest.  Agricultural patterns worldwide are being affected.  For examples, vineyards in California are adversely affected by the warmer temperatures. 

STORMS

Rising sea levels could mean future category 2 and 3 storms could cause much more severe flooding than anticipated otherwise, in low-lying coastal areas.

THE IMPACT ON PLANTS AND ANIMALS

As the planet grows ever warmer, and former cold zones give way to rising temperatures, plant and animal species are being affected.  Wading birds such as the ringed plover now spend winters in the east of Britain rather than on the west coast.  Polar bears are in danger of becoming extinct, as the ice shelves disappear and they are forced to swim further distances, resulting in many drowning.  The habitat of the arctic fox is also in danger.  Seal habitat is shrinking.  Harlequin frogs are dying, the result of a fungus spurred on by the warmer weather.  Krill shrimp, the food of Adeline penguins, are decreasing because warmer ocean waters are killing algae, in turn shrinking the penguins' habitat.  Monarch butterflies' migration path has changed.  Cold water fish and arctic reefs are in danger from warmer sea temperatures.

Already, Canadian Inuit village life is being transformed as rising temperatures are thinning the ice and leading to a loss of hunting and polar bears.

 


        2007 by Bruce Gourley. All rights reserved.