Effects of Global Warming
Global warming has had a significant effect on the intensity, amount, frequency and type of precipitation that falls around the world. Rain and snowfall levels have increased across the Earth, and fall more heavily than ever before in some areas.
Climate change has also contributed to the melting of ice worldwide, including at the Earth’s poles. Mountain glaciers and ice sheets that once covered parts of the Arctic Sea, Greenland and West Antarctica are melting at alarming rates. Animals that thrive in icy habitats, like polar bears and Adelie penguins, are threatened by the climate changes. In just 30 years, the number of Adelie penguins in Antarctica fell from 32,000 breeding pairs to just 11,000. Researchers believe that climate change caused by human activity is largely to blame for the breed’s decreasing population.
Some species thrive in the warmer conditions brought about by climate change, but larger populations of these species can have negative consequences.
Other species have attempted to adapt to global warming by migrating north in search of cooler temperatures and food sources. Certain species of foxes, butterflies and even alpine plants have moved north out of their natural habitats; however, most animal species are unable to adapt to climate change quickly enough and may face extinction as a result.
If global warming continues, sea levels are projected to rise up to 59 centimeters by the century’s end. An additional 20 centimeters may be added if the Earth’s poles continue to melt. Melting ice may also limit the amount of fresh water available in some areas. Storms like hurricanes are likely to become more frequent and stronger. Life-threatening diseases like malaria will spread more rapidly as host insects thrive in warmer conditions. Ecosystems will certainly change, and many may become extinct. Global climate change has already significantly altered the Earth, and if allowed to continue, will have a serious effect on the planet’s future.