For a while there has been a debate of whether climate change and the current global warming phenomenon is real. The slow changing nature of climate may have facilitated part of the reluctance and opposing views on the subjects but not anymore. The data that has been collected over the past decades and evidence of the climate change is unequivocal. The present driving factor of climate change is the greenhouse effect. This is the retention of the earth’s heat radiating back to the space by greenhouse gasses found in the lower atmosphere. These gases block the heat from going to outer space absorbing it in their molecules. They then re-emit this heat in all directions resulting in warmer earth surface and lower atmosphere temperatures. The greenhouse gases include Water Vapor, Carbon Dioxide, Methane, CFCs and Nitrous Oxide.Human activity has been found to account for over 90 percent of the current increase in global warming. Industrial activities and daily live activities see the increase in the greenhouse gasses emissions. Natural factors that contribute to climate change include volcanic eruptions, ocean currents, sun irradiance.
Rising Sea and Ocean Levels
In the last century, sea levels rose by 8 inches. The last two decades however have seen the rise in sea levels almost double up that of the last century. Two main factors largely contribute to increase in sea levels; Global warming and the melting of ice sheets and glaciers. Global warming results in the sea expansion as they absorb Carbon Dioxide from the atmosphere increasing the water mass and thus the ocean levels. The melting ice also find their way to the water bodies causing a surge in the sea level.
The ocean absorbs about 90% of extra heat in the climate. An increase in the global temperatures results in in warmer oceans. Warm ocean temperatures not only affect the sea temperatures they also impact on the ocean currents which can largely change the weather of the surrounding land mass. Warm oceans also melt the underside of the Antarctic ice sheets and account for a larger portion of the rapid depletion of the ice shelf mass loss.
Shrinking Ice Sheets
Another aspect of climate change has been the shrinking ice sheets and glaciers. Data from NASA shows that between 2002 and 2006, Greenland lost between 150-250 cubic kilometers of ice per year. Antarctica lost about 152 kilometers of ice during the same period. Arctic ice on the other hand is now declining at the rate of 13.3 percent per decade. All these figures show how the past 20 years have seen a surge in climate change and its effects.
The major basis of the current climate change is the increase in global temperatures. Since the 19th Century the earth’s surface temperatures have increased by 1.1 degrees Celsius. The warmest years recorded have come in the last 35 years the years since 2001 making up the sixteen of the warmest years on record.
Extreme Weather Frequencies
The change in climate has seen high frequencies of extreme weather. There has been a change in the frequency and strength of hurricanes, storms and tornadoes with warm currents fueling this up. The increase in temperature has also resulted in an increase of humidity in other areas causing flooding on a more frequent basis. On the other hand, they warmer temperatures have resulted in higher evaporation rates and also magnified La Nina effects causing famine and pro-longed drought in other areas.These changes have a dangerous effect on both human, animal and plant life on earth. Some of the effects include the following;Death of ocean life due to melting ice and high acidification levels. The krill which many of the fishes in water feed on breed in the cold waters near sea ice. The melting of sea ice and rising temperatures has seen massive depletion of krill population. The huge levels of carbon dioxide in the oceans also result in shell corrosion for many animals as others die when they fail to adapt. Coral reefs are also suffering from the acidification as they are starved and they die off due to coral bleaching.
It is estimated that over 600, 000 deaths are recorded every year due to climate change. Leading causes include floods and hurricanes, droughts, and heat waves which have become more common.Migration of animals from their habitats as others face extinction. Animals on land also have been faced with death as their natural habitats like forests and ice masses are depleted or become in conducive for their life. The golden toad became the first animal to go extinct due to climate change while the polar bear has become the first animal to be added on the endangered species list due to climate changes.
Wildfires have increased resulting in destruction of hundreds of acres of plant life and animals while pushing many out of their natural habitats.Increase of invasive species in both plants, animals and insects are largely affecting the population sizes of other plants as the warmer temperatures tend to favour them. This results in an imbalance in the ecosystem and threatens many species with extinction.The spread of disease is more rampant with the most and warm conditions globally favouring the quick spread of bacterial and viral diseases like dengue, Lyme and malaria and also other viral diseases. There has also been an increase in respiratory and skin conditions