Amazing Facts

Effects of Global Warming

The planet is warming, from North Pole to South
Pole, and everywhere in between. Globally, the mercury is already up
more than 1 degree Fahrenheit (0.8 degree Celsius), and even more in
sensitive polar regions. And the effects of rising temperatures aren't
waiting for some far-flung future. They're happening right now. Signs
are appearing all over, and some of them are surprising. The heat is
not only melting glaciers and sea ice, it's also shifting precipitation
patterns and setting animals on the move.

Some impacts from increasing temperatures are already happening.

    * Ice is melting worldwide, especially at the Earth's poles. This
includes mountain glaciers, ice sheets covering West Antarctica and
Greenland, and Arctic sea ice.

    * Researcher Bill Fraser has tracked the decline of the Adélie
penguins on Antarctica, where their numbers have fallen from 32,000
breeding pairs to 11,000 in 30 years.

    * Sea level rise became faster over the last century.

    * Some butterflies, foxes, and alpine plants have moved farther
north or to higher, cooler areas.

    * Precipitation (rain and snowfall) has increased across the globe,
on average.

    * Spruce bark beetles have boomed in Alaska thanks to 20 years of
warm summers. The insects have chewed up 4 million acres of spruce

Other effects could happen later this century, if
warming continues.

    * Sea levels are expected to rise between 7 and 23 inches (18 and
59 centimeters) by the end of the century, and continued melting at the
poles could add between 4 and 8 inches (10 to 20 centimeters).

    * Hurricanes and other storms are likely to become stronger.

    * Species that depend on one another may become out of sync. For
example, plants could bloom earlier than their pollinating insects
become active.

    * Floods and droughts will become more common. Rainfall in
Ethiopia, where droughts are already common, could decline by 10
percent over the next 50 years.

    * Less fresh water will be available. If the Quelccaya ice cap in
Peru continues to melt at its current rate, it will be gone by 2100,
leaving thousands of people who rely on it for drinking water and
electricity without a source of either.

    * Some diseases will spread, such as malaria carried by mosquitoes.

    * Ecosystems will change-some species will move farther north or
become more successful; others won't be able to move and could become
extinct. Wildlife research scientist Martyn Obbard has found that since
the mid-1980s, with less ice on which to live and fish for food, polar
bears have gotten considerably skinnier.  Polar bear biologist Ian
Stirling has found a similar pattern in Hudson Bay.  He fears that if
sea ice disappears, the polar bears will as well.

Related Tags: Planets  Pollution  Earth  
Current Rating :
Rate this Mail :