Climate change is the shift or abnormal change in climate patterns. As the planet warms quickly, mostly due to human activity, climate patterns in regions around the world will fluctuate.
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Ecosystems and biodiversity will be forced to fluctuate along with the regional climate, and that could harm many species. Bees and other pollinators are threatened by habitat loss. You can help by planting native flowers in your yard. These climate change impacts are in part due to how we have altered land use. Turning natural areas into cities or agricultural fields not only diminishes biodiversity, but can make warming worse by chopping down trees and plants that help cool the planet. Changes in climate can also intensify droughts, decrease water supply, threaten food security, erode and inundate coastlines, and weaken natural resilience infrastructure that humans depend on.
Politicians have proposed several solutions, plans and international agreements to tackle the long-standing issues that biodiversity loss and climate change present. In the meantime, we as individuals can take small actions in our daily lives to reduce our environmental impacts on the planet. Unplugging your unused appliances, changing to LED lightbulbs, carpooling, and participating in meatless Monday are all ways we can help to slow climate change. These types of behavioral shifts can steer businesses and policy makers toward incorporating sustainable practices that reduce greenhouse gas emissions and halt biodiversity loss.
Lauren Harper is an intern in the Earth Institute communications department. I was impressed with your article on Biodiversity and how it affects our climate. It was very informative. I have been motivated to do something to help. I hope more people will be informed and become inspired to want to help too.
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Thanks for all you do and your work is appreciated. Very good article Lauren it makes me more mindful of making different changes in my everyday life that I take for granted. Predicted decreased rainfall and consequent lower river flows in both regions would have a major impact on aquatic biota. Freshwater wetlands such as the Macquarie Marshes in the central west of New South Wales—and the frogs, waterbirds, turtles and other aquatic life dependent on them—are also at risk because of a change in water quality and quantity. The basic ingredients for photosynthesis include carbon dioxide and water.
Increased carbon dioxide in the atmosphere causes increased growth rates in many plant species. Leaf-eating animals like koalas may not be so lucky: A lot of CO 2 that has been emitted into the atmosphere has been absorbed by the oceans. According to the most recent IPCC report, sea level is predicted to rise by 26—98 centimetres by , due to the thermal expansion of the oceans and the melting of polar ice-caps and ice sheets.
Coupled with the effects of storm surges, which are expected to be of a greater magnitude in a warmer world, this increase in sea level could threaten many coastal ecosystems. Also at risk are mangrove forests and low-lying freshwater wetlands in Kakadu National Park. Climate change is predicted to take place faster in the next century than at any time for at least the last 10, years. Coupled with other factors, such as continued land-clearing, this could mean the extinction of species at a rate even greater than when the dinosaurs disappeared around 65 million years ago.
Does it really matter if many species go extinct? The world would certainly be a less interesting place with less biodiversity, but would it affect us? A loss of species could reduce this ability, particularly if environmental conditions are changing rapidly at the same time.
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It is possible that as the climate changes and as species are eliminated from an area we will see a change in some ecosystem functions; this could mean more land degradation, changes in agricultural productivity and a reduction in the quality of water delivered to human populations.
View video details and transcript. The Earth will continue to warm for some time even if greenhouse gas emissions are somehow instantly curbed. Some species, primarily microorganisms and invertebrates with short generation times, might be able to adapt to changing conditions or evolve in response to climate change.
But for many, especially those that are already rare and inhabit limited climatic envelopes, global warming could pose an insurmountable challenge. How some species have already responsed to climate change Adaptation strategies will not be limited to the efforts of human societies; some species may already be adapting—and evolving—in response to climate change. Climate change has probably always played a role in evolution, although scientists debate the nature of that role.
At least some of the data are inconclusive: Australian scientists have detected what they think is an evolutionary response to rapid climate change amongst the fruitfly Drosophila—a species that often used in genetic experiments. This insect carries a gene called Adh; a variation of this gene, called Adh s , is thought to help the insect survive arid conditions.
Usually Adhs is more common in northern Australia, which is hotter and drier, but scientists have discovered that the distribution of the gene has moved km to the south—presumably in response to rising temperatures and decreasing rainfall. Scientists who study the relationship between the seasons and biological phenomena have looked at long-term records of the indicators of change from one season to another, such as temperature, rainfall and the number of hours of sunlight.
They found that climate change has changed the timing of the seasons— spring arrives earlier and autumn lasts longer—and that wildlife is adapting to the change by altering its behaviour. A number of plants are consistently forming buds and flowering earlier in spring, and the migration and breeding times of birds has also changed. In Australia, action plans have been prepared for a number of endangered species that try to address the possible impacts of global warming. For example, the recovery plan for the mountain pygmy possum prepared by the NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service includes the development of a model to illustrate habitat suitability under current snow conditions and to identify key refugia for the possum under the predicted impacts of climate change.
The action plan prepared by the government of the Australian Capital Territory for the northern corroboree frog includes a commitment to a coordinated research program on the actual and potential effects of global warming on the species. The plan attempts to engage all Australians in biodiversity and proposes concrete and measurable steps in developing resilience in a cost effective way. Unfortunately, the threats associated with climate change continue to increase with the failure of governments worldwide to reach a consensus around decreasing emissions of CO 2 and other greenhouse gases to levels that limit impacts upon biodiversity.
Climate change and biodiversity
Some of the impacts of climate change may be sudden, but in many cases societies will have some years to adapt their management of biodiversity as conditions change. Some species may benefit from the extra carbon dioxide, and a few years ago scientists and organizations, such as the European Project on OCean Acidification , formed to try to understand and assess the impacts further.
This tiny plankton plays a major role in keeping atmospheric carbon dioxide CO2 concentrations at much lower levels than they would be otherwise so large effects on them could be quite serious. Other related problems reported by the Inter Press Service include more oceanic dead zones areas where there is too little oxygen in the sea to support life and the decline of important coastal plants and forests, such as mangrove forests that play an important role in carbon absorption.
This is on top of the already declining ocean biodiversity that has been happening for a few decades, now. Scientists now believe that ocean acidification is unparalleled in the last million years , raising the possibility that we are entering an unknown territory of marine ecosystem change. As climate change warms the oceans even just an increase of about 0. This affects tiny drifting marine organisms known as phytoplankton. Though small, Phytoplankton are a critical part of our planetary life support system. In the same news report, IPS explains that phytoplankton can only live in the top or meters of water, but if it is getting warmer, they eventually run out of nutrients to feed on unless the cold, deeper waters mix with those near the surface.
Researchers have found a direct correlation between rising sea surface temperatures and the decline in phytoplankton growth around the world. As NASA summarizes, stratification cuts down the amount of carbon the ocean can take up. The past half-century has seen an explosive growth in aquatic dead zones , areas too low in dissolved oxygen to support life. Fertilizer and sewage run-off cause huge growth of plankton.
Climate Change Is Becoming a Top Threat to Biodiversity - Scientific American
However, these then quickly die and are consumed by bacteria that deplete waters of oxygen. For example, the Gulf of Mexico has a 22, square kilometer dead zone every spring due to run-off from the Mississippi River.
Professor Robert Diaz, of the Virginia Institute of Marine Science, explains ocean dead zones further in this short video:. Ocean stratification, where warm water sits firmly on top of cold, nutrient-rich water, also creates dead zones and lowers the overall productivity of the oceans. Without urgent action, climate change will continue to warm oceans, increasing stratification and producing larger and more dead zones with a major impact on future fisheries, a study in Nature Geoscience warned.
Climate Change and Biodiversity
It will take a thousand years for the oceans to cool down, so it is imperative to pull the emergency brake on global warming emissions, the study concluded. At the beginning of September, , the Australian agency looking after the Great Barrier Reef released an outlook report warning the Great Barrier Reef is in trouble. But it is not just the Great Barrier Reef at risk. The future is horrific , he says. There is no hope of reefs surviving to even mid-century in any form that we now recognize. Then there is a domino effect, as reefs fail so will other ecosystems. This is the path of a mass extinction event, when most life, especially tropical marine life, goes extinct.