Climate and Global Warming, Research Paper Example

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Research Paper

Global warming has made a clear impact across the world.  There has been documented research indicating the increase of extreme weather conditions and events, the rise in sea level, the disappearance of glaciers, the disappearance of coral reefs, alterations in species diversity and wildlife, and increased occurrence of disease vectors. (Wang and Chameides, 2005)  It is difficult to directly link the above changes to global warming; hover, the collection of these changes is what provides the link of the current and increasing effects that global warming is leading to.  By definition, global warming has been termed as the increase in the average temperature of the both the Earth’s atmosphere and ocean.  The rise in temperature is the effect from the increase in greenhouse gases that expelled and enter into the Earth’s atmosphere.  The greenhouses gases are gases that trap heat in the atmosphere.  The main greenhouses gases are carbon dioxide, methane, nitrous oxide, and fluorinated gases.  Carbon dioxide gas enters into the atmosphere through the burning of fossil fuels, such as coal, oil and natural gas, solid wastes, trees, as well as chemical reactions. Methane enters the atmosphere through the production and transport of fossil fuels. Nitrous oxide enters the atmosphere from the combustion of fossil fuels.  Fluorinated gases are emitted  through industry activities and are known as the “High Global Warming Potential gases”. (EPA, 2012b)  The impact of the climate change from these gases depends on different factors, such as concentration, time and strength of the gas.  (EPA, 2012b)  These greenhouse gases and the resulting global warming has resulted in several effects, both ecological and sociological,around the world.  These effects include increased threats to endangered species, alterations in ecosystems, differences in climate changes, and economic crises.  (EPA, 2012)Two areas of concern in regard to Global warming that are discussed in this paper are the effect of global warming in general around the world and the effect of global warming on the coastlines and oceans ecosystems.

Global warming has caused many problems around the world.  For instance, global warming is said to be the cause of the rise in the chance of heat waves.  In 2003, a heat wave heat Europe and killed at least 27,000 people.   In addition, the heat during that time period caused droughts and wildfires which resulted in major economic loss as well.  In addition to the heat waves, increased precipitation and flooding has been documented as well.  For example, 30,000 people were killed in Venezuela in 1999 when rainfall increased causing landslides and flooding.  On the opposite side of precipitation, there have also been numerous increases in droughts as well.  Major droughts occurred in North America during the late 1990s and early 2000’s.  In fact, it was most severe drought recorded in 500 years.  (Wang and Chameides, 2005)

The change in the rise of sea-level is a topic that is ongoing in regard to global warming.  It is proven that sea levels have risen an average between 4 to 8 inches, which is 10 times the average during the last 3,000 years.  (Wang and Chameides, 2005)  In addition, scientists project that the increase in sea-level will continue to rise.  The result of this rise can cause the ice sheets in the Northern Hemisphere to collapse.  Other areas around the world have been affected by sea level rises as well, such as the Chesapeake Bay.  Approximately one-third of the marshes in the National Wildlife Refuge in the Chesapeake Bay have been submerged, as well as the mangrove forests in Bermuda. (Wang and Chameides, 2005)  With the continuing rise of sea-level coastal areas will continue to be submerged.

Snow is another critical reservoir for fresh water that is being depleted world-wide from global warming.  In addition, for economic purposes it brings billions of dollars to the ski-industries.  A decreasing percentage of snowpack has been observed in the Rocky and Cascade Mountain ranges.  In addition, the melting of snow occurs earlier and earlier than the previous average.  Furthermore, glaciers are increasingly retreating with the increasing global temperatures.  In fact, two-thirds of ice in Montana’s Glacier National Park was disappeared since 1850 and Venezuela has dropped from six glaciers to two glaciers in 40 years.  (Wang and Chameides, 2005)

Human health is another global concern in regard to global warming.  The increasing temperatures have increased the maturation cycle of disease causing organisms or viruses as well as the vectors that transmit the disease.  In particular, mosquitos thrive in the warmer temperatures.  These vectors are responsible for spreading disease such as malaria and yellow fever.  (Wang and Chameides, 2005)

Global warming can affect the coastline and ocean ecosystems in several different ways, such as climate change, temperature alterations, and decrease in species diversity or the number of different species on earth.Climate change has a direct impact on the coastal systems due to the changes in weather patterns.  For instance, climate changecan lead to an increased number of storms, which therefore increases the amount of precipitation, resulting in a rise in the sea level.  An increase rise in sea level also leads to a change in shoreline from erosion, coastal flooding and water pollution. (EPA, 2012)  The coastlines are important because they serve as areas for inhabitance and economic purposes. Several species of animals live in coastal habitats, whether in low tidal zones, rocky intertidal pools, or beaches.  These species include both marine and terrestrial animals ranging from algae to terrestrial mammals, such as coyote for instance.  There are also different forms of economic activities that area affected, such as the transportation of imports and exports, offshore energy operations, recreation sports, such as boating, commercial fishing, and resource extraction.  (EPA, 2012)  In addition, a rise in sea level can cause flooding to occur in thewetlands, islands and coastal cities.  For instance, the Environmental Protection Agency (2012) indicated that areas in the United States where the land mass in sinking, there is a larger rise in sea level compared to other areas.  An example is in the coastlines of Louisiana.  Louisiana has shown a rise in sea level by 8 inches over the last 50 years.  Furthermore, an increase in population in the coastal cities leads to an increase in sea level.  For instance, developing structures on the coast increases the amount of sediment that enters the coastal areas.  This also can increase the areas risk of flooding because sediments are unable to increase in the wetland areas with the rising sea level.  The wetlands can therefore, no longer prevent flooding from occurring.  Again, this is seen in the State of Louisiana in which human development caused the land to sink and the sediment system to diminish. (EPA, 2012)

In addition to the sea level rises, there has been a noticeable change in the ocean water, particularly the coastal waters.  In fact, the coastal waters have shown a substantial increase from 4 ºF to 8 ºF during the 21st century.  The change in ocean temperatures has a major impact of the coastal ecosystem.  Species that live in these areas have been shown to exhibit a shift in habitat.  For instance, rising temperatures in an area may causes temperature sensitive types of species to move and try to adapt to different areas.  This results in competition, as well as a change to the ecosystem.

Both the effect of climate change and sea temperature rising have a direct effect on species diversity.  For instance, climate change could bring an increase amount of precipitation to coastal areas leading to an increase in runoff that increases the amount of pollution that enters the coastal waters.  This can affect the animals and organisms that live in those areas.  In addition, an increase in runoff can also increase the amount of nitrogen and phosphorous present, further threatening the species that live in those areas.  Furthermore other changes in climate, such as droughts can also affect species diversity due to the change in salinity.  Droughts can increase the salinity in coastal environments.  Aquatic species that are sensitive to salinity changes, therefore may not survive.  Ocean acidity also plays a key role in species diversity and is directly impacted from global warming as well.  The oceans become more acidic from the carbon dioxide emissions.  The carbon dioxide enters the atmosphere and dissolves into the ocean.  The change results in a more acidic environment. Scientists have indicated that the pH level of the ocean will decrease by the end of the century due to carbon dioxide emissions. The decreasing pH level results in a decrease in species diversity since multiple marine animals, such as plankton, mollusks and coral depend on calcium carbonate which decreases in an acidic environment. (USGCRP, 2009)

Changes in sea temperature can also cause a change in species diversity to coastal environments.  The higher the sea surface temperatures, the more at risk coral are for dying, a term referred to as coral bleaching.  The EPA is currently conducting studies to investigate the effects of temperature rises on species, particularly in the southeastern United States.  Their rationalization is that species living in these areas are already most likely living at their temperature tolerance and due to the necessity of fishing resources in that area, it is important to predict how fish population’s adaptation to temperature changes incurred with global warming.  (Klerks and Leberg, 2004)

Overall, there are several types of effects on the coastline and the coastal ecosystem in regard to global warming.  Each of the factors, climate changes, temperature rises and species diversity, all seem related, whether directly or indirectly to one another.  Global warming is therefore a major concern and issue that should be taken seriously.  Our society should continue to research and find ways to decrease greenhouses gases, as this can have detrimental effects of our coastlines, in which we depend on for social and economic reasons. Therefore, the real issue is the amount of greenhouse gases that are emitted continually into the atmosphere.   With the increasing greenhouse gas concentrations that are emitted into the atmosphere, there will be a continuous increases in the Earth’s average temperature, amount of precipitation worldwide, a reduction in the amount of ice and snow on the grounds, and a rise in the sea level.  (EPA, 2012c)

References

EPA. (2012). Coastal Areas Impact and Adaptation. Web. Retrieved from: http://www.epa.gov/climatechange/impacts-adaptation/coasts.html

EPA.  (2012b).  Greenhouse Gas Emissions. Available at: http://www.epa.gov/climatechange/ghgemissions/gases.html

EPA. (2012c).  Future Climate Change. Available at: http://www.epa.gov/climatechange/science/future.html

Klerks, P. and Leberg, P. (2004). How likely is it that fish populations will Successfully

Adapt to Global Warming?  EPA Grant Number: R829420E02. Retrieved from: http://cfpub.epa.gov/ncer_abstracts/index.cfm/fuseaction/display.abstractDetail/abstract/5384/report/F.

Wang, J. and Chameides, B.  (2005).Global Warming’s Increasingly Visible Impacts. Environmental Defense.  Available at: www.environmentaldefense.org.

USGCRP (2009). Global Climate Change Impacts in the United States. Thomas R. Karl, Jerry Melillo, and Thomas C. Peterson (eds.). United States Global Change Research Program. Cambridge University Press, New York, NY, USA.

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