Climate Change & Impact – A Simple Guide

One of the primary manifestations of climate change so far is melting. North America, Europe, and Asia have all seen a trend toward less snow cover between 1960 and 2015, according to 2016 research published in the journal Current Climate Change Reports.

According to the National Snow and Ice Data Center, there is now 10% less permafrost

, or permanently frozen ground, in the Northern Hemisphere than there was in the early 1900s. The thawing of permafrost can cause landslides and other sudden land collapses. It can also release long-buried microbes, as in a 2016 case when a cache of buried reindeer carcasses thawed and caused an outbreak of anthrax.

One of the most dramatic effects of global warming is the reduction in Arctic sea ice. Sea ice hit record-low extents in both the fall and winter of 2015 and 2016, meaning that at the time when the ice is supposed to be at its peak, it was lagging. The melt means less tick sea ict persists for multiple years. That means less heat is reflected into the atmosphere by the shiny surface of the ice and more is absorbed by the comparatively darker ocean, creating a feedback loop that causes even more melt, according to NASA’s Operation IceBridge

Glacial retreat, too, is an obvious effect of global warming. Only 25 glaciers bigger than 25 acres are now found in Montana’s Glacier National Park, where about 150 glaciers were once found, according to the U.S. Geological Survey. A similar trend is seen in glacial areas worldwide. According to a 2016 study in the journal Nature Geoscience, there is a 99% likelihood that this rapid retreat is due to human-caused climate change. Some glaciers retreated up to 15 times as much as they would have without global warming, those researchers found. You can also learn more about it from here

Causes and Effect Of Climate Change

Scientists already have documented these impacts of climate change:

  • 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. In Montana’s Glacier National Park the number of glaciers has declined to fewer than 30 from more than 150 in 1910.
  • Much of this melting ice contributes to sea-level rise. Global sea levels are rising 0.13 inches (3.2 millimeters) a year. The rise is occurring at a faster rate in recent years and is predicted to accelerate in the coming decades.
  • Rising temperatures are affecting wildlife and their habitats. Vanishing ice has challenged species such as the Adélie penguin in Antarctica, where some populations on the western peninsula have collapsed by 90 percent or more.
  • As temperatures change, many species are on the move. Some butterflies, foxes, and alpine plants have migrated farther north or to higher, cooler areas.
  • Precipitation (rain and snowfall) has increased across the globe, on average. Yet some regions are experiencing more severe drought, increasing the risk of wildfires, lost crops, and drinking water shortages.
  • Some species—including mosquitoes, ticks, jellyfish, and crop pests—are thriving. Booming populations of bark beetles that feed on spruce and pine trees, for example, have devastated millions of forested acres in the U.S.