Read more on the following major ecological impacts:Species extinctionExtreme weather events and sea level riseEcosystems
Species extinction (sixth major mass extinction)
Climate change is altering the patterns of life on the planet, causing widespread extinction, migration and behavioural changes, as species have been unable to adapt to the rate of the changes that are occurring in their environments.
It is commonly believed that at our current rate of species loss, we are in the midst of the Earth’s sixth major mass extinction. The factor which distinguishes this extinction event, however, is that unlike the previous extinctions caused by natural phenomena – such as a comet or a catastrophic volcanic eruption – human activity has been the dominant force.
According to an estimate indicated by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), about 1,125 of mammals and 1,150 species of birds are under a significant risk of global extinction due to climate-related changes
Extreme weather events and sea level rise
Global climate change is causing drastic changes in the frequency and intensity of extreme weather events. The effect of rising average temperatures is already felt in many places around the world. Increases in temperatures will mean that some regions will experience more extreme heat while others may cool slightly. Flooding, drought and intense summer heat will result. Violent storms and other extreme weather events are already resulting from the increased energy stored in our warming atmosphere.
While projections of changes in precipitation show an overall increase in the global average, the more substantial shifts will be in where and how precipitation falls. Again, this will affect different areas in different ways. Tropical regions, for example, are already experiencing far more extreme storms than previously documented. Depending on the location and ecosystem type, it is reasonable to expect higher frequencies and more severe events of drought, storm surges, floods, forest fires, hurricanes and other extreme weather events around the world.
Read a story about challenges of people in Maldives face with sea level rise and higher frequency of severe storms and varying rainfall patterns…
Ecosystem alterationChange in the climate has, and will continue to translate into drastic changes for some of the Earth’s most sensitive ecosystems.Perhaps the most vital terrestrial transformation (on a human scale, at least) is expected to come from the rapid growth of arid, desert environments, which are overtaking previously fertile soils as climate change continues to drive hotter and drier conditions in some regions. The human, economic and ecological costs of an increase in desertification would be tremendous. Already, the annual costs of desertification in areas such as Tunisia and Spain are upwards of US$100 million and US$200 million, respectively.
Facts about desertification Desertification directly affects 250 million people worldwideAbout 4 billion hectares of the earth’s land surface is degraded due to desertification Livelihoods of nearly 1 billion people in over 100 countries, who depend on land for most of their needs, are threatened due to desertification. About 66 percent of the African continent is desert or dry lands About 30 percent of the land in the United States is affected by desertification Source: UNCCD Desertification directly affects 250 million people worldwideAbout 4 billion hectares of the earth’s land surface is degraded due to desertification Livelihoods of nearly 1 billion people in over 100 countries, who depend on land for most of their needs, are threatened due to desertification. About 66 percent of the African continent is desert or dry lands About 30 percent of the land in the United States is affected by desertification Source: UNCCD
On the other hand, in addition to affecting terrestrial ecosystems, climate change will also impact aquatic ecosystems. One of the Earth’s most fascinating and diverse ecosystems, coral reefs, are also one the most vulnerable to climate change. Coral reefs are the protective home for thousands of species and they provide many goods and services to humans such as medicine, food etc. As coral reefs are extremely sensitive to changes in the temperature and acidity of the water in which they form, several scientific studies have demonstrated that many of the world’s reefs are preciously close to complete failure.
Photo credit: University Corporation for Atmospheric Research
Coral reefs and fish population are highly threatened due to rising sea water temperatures in Mauritius. Find out more on our climate calendar page.…..