A collage of typical climate and weather-related events: floods, heatwaves, drought, hurricanes, wildfires and loss of glacial ice.

Ecology: Visible Effects Of Climate Change All Around The World

Climate change is a global phenomenon. It is devouring our planet with each passing minute. Glaciers have shrunk, ice on rivers and lakes is breaking up earlier. Shockingly, there is a shift in plant and animal ranges and trees are flowering sooner. That not all effects that scientists predicted in the past would result from global climate change are now occurring. Specifically, there is a loss of sea ice, an acceleration in the sea-level rise and longer, more intense heat waves.

Scientists have high confidence that global temperatures will continue to rise for decades to come. Largely due to the production of greenhouse gases by human activities. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), which includes scientists. Mainly, more than 1,300 scientists from the United States and other countries. They forecast a temperature rise of 2.5 to 10 degrees Fahrenheit over the next century.

According to the IPCC, the extent of climate change’s effects on individual regions will vary over time. And with the ability of different societal and environmental systems to mitigate or adapt to change.

The IPCC predicts that increases in global mean temperature of less than 1.8 to 5.4 degrees Fahrenheit (1 to 3 degrees Celsius). Above 1990 levels will have beneficial impacts in some regions and harmful ones in others. Whereas the net annual costs will increase over time as global temperatures increase.

“Taken as a whole,” the IPCC states, “the range of published evidence indicates that the net damage costs of climate change are likely to be significant and to increase over time.”

Visible Effects of Global Climate Change

Thunderstorm, Forest Fire, Tornadoes and Huricane
Thunderstorm, Forest Fire, Tornadoes and Hurricane/ Photo: Nature.com

Many of the changes observed in the climate are unprecedented in thousands. If not hundreds of thousands of years, and some of the changes have already been set in motion. Such as continued sea-level rise—are irreversible over hundreds to thousands of years.

Specifically, the characteristics of climate change directly depend on the level of global warming. But what people experience is often very different to the global average. For example, warming over land is greater than the global average, and it is more than twice as high in the Arctic.

“Climate change is already affecting every region on Earth in multiple ways. The changes we experience will increase with additional warming,” said IPCC Working Group I Co-Chair Panmao Zhai.

The report projects that in the coming decade, climate change will increase in all regions. Because of a 1.5°C increase in temperature which is a result of global warming, there will be increased heat waves, longer warm seasons and shorter cold seasons. Whereas at 2°C of global warming, heat extremes would more often reach critical tolerance thresholds for agriculture and health, the report shows.

But it is not just about temperature. Climate change is bringing multiple different changes in different regions. Furthermore, they will all increase with further warming. These include changes to wetness and dryness, to winds, snow and ice, coastal areas and oceans.

 Change in Climate Conditions in the Arctic

Worryingly, it is an observation that the impact of climate change earlier in the Arctic is occurring earlier than expected. Along with more immediate and severe consequences than in comparison to the rest of the world. The Arctic is warming at a rate almost twice the global average. Additionally, there are reductions in Arctic sea-ice and permafrost and weather changes which are becoming increasingly visible. Whereas the Arctic marine mammals have unique adaptations to life in the Arctic. Many rely on the seasonal presence of sea ice, and all depend on the unique ecosystems and immense biological productivity of the region. Both of these factors stand to change because of abrupt climatic conditions.

Consequently, the effects of a warming atmosphere on the physical, chemical, biological, and human components of Arctic ecosystems are immense. Specifically, with its myriad, far-reaching, and accelerating nature. The warming has caused a cascade of physical changes. Ranging from direct effects such as the melting of sea ice and sea-level rise to secondary effects. Such as decreased albedo (surface reflectivity) and coastal erosion to tertiary effects. Mainly, such as the accelerated warming of the ocean due to feedback loops between different climate factors.

Change in Climatic Conditions in the United States(U.S)

The U.S. average temperature has seen an increase in temperature by 1.3°F to 1.9°F. Since record-keeping began in 1895, most of this increase has taken place since about 1970. While the most recent decade was the nation’s warmest on record. Specifically, there is an expectation that temperatures in the United States will continue to rise. Because human-induced warming is superimposed on a naturally varying climate, the temperature rise has not been, and will not be, uniform or smooth across the country or over time.

There have been changes in some types of extreme weather events over the last several decades. Heatwaves have become more frequent and intense, especially in the West. Cold waves have become less frequent and intense across the nation. There have been regional trends in floods and droughts. Droughts in the Southwest and
heatwaves everywhere are projected to become more intense and cold
waves are less intense everywhere.

The intensity, frequency, and duration of North Atlantic hurricanes. As well as the frequency of the strongest
(Category 4 and 5) hurricanes have all seen an increase
since the early 1980s. The relative contributions of human and natural causes to these increases are still uncertain. Moreover, hurricane-associated storm intensity and rainfall rates are projected to increase as the climate continues to warm.

Winter storms have seen an increase in frequency and intensity since the 1950s. And their tracks have shifted northward over the United States. While other trends in severe storms, including the intensity and frequency of tornadoes, hail, and damaging thunderstorm winds, are uncertain and are being studied intensively.

Change in Climatic Conditions in Asia

In many ways, Asia is on the frontline of a changing climate.  With many low-lying coastal cities facing exposure to flood and typhoon risk, dramatic increases in heat and humidity are an expectation across the region. Moreover, extreme precipitation is forecast in some areas but maybe anticipated in others. Asian societies and economies will be increasingly vulnerable to climate risk without adaptation and mitigation.

While climate science makes extensive use of scenarios ranging from lower (Representative Concentration Pathway 2.6) to higher (RCP 8.5) CO2 concentrations. There is a focus on RCP 8.5 because it enables us to assess the full inherent physical risk of climate change in the absence of further decarbonization.

Asia is well-positioned to address these challenges and capture the opportunities that come from managing climate risk effectively. Specifically, infrastructure and urban areas are still being built in many parts of Asia. This gives the region a chance to ensure that what goes up is more resilient and better able to withstand heightened risk. At the same time, key economies in the region, such as China and Japan, are leading the world in technologies, from electric vehicles to renewable energy, that are necessary to adapt to and mitigate climate change.

In many ways, Asia stands out as being more exposed to physical climate risk than other parts of the world. Especially in the absence of adaptation and mitigation under RCP 8.5, by 2050, between 600 million and one billion people in Asia will be living in areas with a nonzero annual probability of lethal heatwaves. That compares with a global total of 700 million to 1.2 billion.

Change in Climatic Conditions in Europe

The summer of 2021 was Europe’s hottest on record with temperatures close to 1°C above the 1991-2020 average. To assess the impact of climate change on these high seasonal temperatures, scientists used a large collection of computer simulations to compare the climate as it is today, with about 1°C of global warming, with the climate as it would have been without human influence, using the same methods as in past peer-reviewed studies.

The calculations showed that the record-breaking summer season in Europe would have been almost impossible without human influence with a return time of thousands of years. In the present climate, it has an estimation of return time of around three years and by the end of the century, the conditions could be seen every year. The study used a medium emissions scenario (SSP 4.5) for future projections of climate change.

“This latest attribution study is another example of how climate change is already making our weather extremes more severe. Our analysis of the European summer of 2021 shows that what is now a one in a three-year event would have been almost impossible without human-induced climate change.”

-said the Met Office climate attribution scientist, Dr Nikos Christidis, who led the analysis.

During this record-breaking hot spell, a new European maximum temperature record set in Syracuse, Sicily, where temperatures went soaring to 48.8°C, beating the previous European high of 48°C recording in Athens in 1977.

Climate Change Visible Effects in Other Parts of the World

Infographic on the Social and Economic Impacts of Climate Change
Infographic on the Social and Economic Impacts of Climate Change/ Photo: Tewksbury Tribune

In January 2003, the rainfall patterns of Lesotho — a small region in Africa — altered suddenly, ushering in untimely frost and severe storms that destroyed standing crops.

“Frost in the summertime! We never used to see weather like this,” says Makhabasha Ntaote, a 71-year-old matriarch.

Indeed, showers have been defying weather forecasts worldwide.

According to the World Meteorological Organisation (WMO), 2004 was the wettest year since 2000. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) says precipitation in the 20th century has increased by 0.5-1 per cent per decade over most mid and high latitudes of the Northern Hemisphere continents. No systematic changes have seen a change in latitudinal averages over the Southern Hemisphere.

Although rising temperatures should moisten the atmosphere, research shows that human-made airborne aerosols have effects. Specifically, they are condensing the water to form smaller cloud droplets. This contributes to the observed thickening of Earth’s cloud cover. The smaller droplets are not heavy enough to sink through the air like rain. As a result, the cloud cover lasts longer and there may be less rain worldwide.

But for some regions, global warming means more floods and other extreme weather events. According to WMO, an exceptional heatwave — maximum temperatures soaring to 45c — affected much of eastern Australia during February 2004, greater than any such heatwave here on record.

Poor nations tend to suffer more than wealthy ones: while flooding in Mozambique cut the country’s gross domestic product (GDP) by 45 per cent in 2000, floods of the same scale in Germany in 2002 were blamed for just one per cent GDP decline.

Resolutions to Initiate Action Against Climate Change

United Nations Paris Climate Agreement
United Nations Paris Climate Agreement/ Photo: UN.org

Goal 13 out of the United Nations Sustainable Goals calls for urgent action to combat climate change and its impacts. It is intrinsically linked to all 16 of the other goals of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. To address climate change, countries adopted the Paris Agreement to limit global temperature rise to well below 2 degrees Celsius.

Affordable, scalable solutions are now available to enable countries to leapfrog to cleaner, more resilient economies. The pace of change is quickening as more people are turning to renewable energy and a range of other measures that will reduce emissions and increase adaptation efforts.

But climate change is a global challenge that does not respect national borders. Emissions anywhere affect people everywhere. It is an issue that requires solutions that need to be coordinated at the international level and it requires international cooperation to help developing countries move toward a low-carbon economy.

To address climate change, countries adopted the Paris Agreement at the COP21 in Paris on 12 December 2015. The Agreement entered into force less than a year later. In the agreement, all countries agreed to work to limit global temperature rise to well below 2 degrees Celsius, and given the grave risks, to strive for 1.5 degrees Celsius.

Implementation of the Paris Agreement is essential for the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals and provides a roadmap for climate actions that will reduce emissions and build climate resilience.

Conclusion

How Personal Choices reduce your contribution to Climate Change
How Personal Choices reduce your contribution to Climate Change/ Photo: The North Lines

Climate change is now affecting every country on every continent. It is disrupting national economies and affecting lives, costing people, communities and countries dearly today and even more tomorrow.

People are experiencing the significant impacts of climate change, which include changing weather patterns, rising sea levels, and more extreme weather events. The greenhouse gas emissions from human activities are driving climate change and continue to rise. They are now at their highest levels in history. Without action, the world’s average surface temperature will rise over the 21st century and is likely to surpass 3 degrees Celsius this century—with some areas of the world warming even more. The poorest and most vulnerable people are bearing the effects of climate change the most.

If you feel overwhelmed by the mammoth of a problem such as climate change, there are ways for you to help. Firstly, tell your Member of Parliament, local councillors and city mayors that you think action on climate change is important.

Find out where your money goes. Voice your concerns about responsible investment by writing to your bank or pension provider, and ask if you can opt-out of funds investing in fossil fuels.

Our world is warming, but taking action on climate change can make all our lives better.

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