CLIMATE CHANGE IMPACTS ALL ECOSYSTEMS AROUND THE GLOBE

CLIMATE CHANGE IMPACTS ALL ECOSYSTEMS AROUND THE GLOBE

Plants, wildlife, forests, flora and fauna in the oceans. And more – all dramatically changing because of the planet’s warming.

As water temperatures are getting hotter with every year, marine ecosystems are disrupted. Though the polar oceans are the most impacted, the others are not excluded from the equation. Less plankton means less food for fish and less seafood for people. And as phytoplankton absorbs CO2 from the atmosphere, less means emissions will falter even slower.

EFFECTS OF NOT MEETING PARIS AGREEMENT OBJECTIVES

Recent findings tell us that increasing temperatures largely changed the composition of vegetation in 71 percent of research sites around the globe. Its structure has changed in 67 percent of the sites. That didn’t happened in sites with low temperature changes, so the conclusion is that the planet is very sensitive to temperature changes.

Trying to decipher how plant life changed in the past, scientists analyzed plant fossils and ancient pollen found on some 600 sites around the world. They compatimentalized their findings into two categories – changes in plant species (compositional) and major structural changes (for example, a tundra becoming a forest). So, changes are being considered as low, moderate or large.

Research tells that since the last ice age, the warming played a significant role in flora changes, as the areas with the greatest changes, were also those that experienced an increase in temperatures. This is mostly obvious in the Northern hemisphere – mid to high latitudes – but also in the Southern one – South America, Africa, Australia, the Indo-Pacific area.

Scientists further say that some changes are inevitable, even if the objectives of Paris Agreement are being met. But less than half the planet will be impacted. Else, without meeting the those objectives, changes will certainly be at a larger scale.

DECADES INSTEAD OF CENTURIES

The polar Adelie penguin and the krill thrive in a cold and dry climate. But now, due to the warming by 2.5 degrees Celsius of the Antarctic peninsula, in the last 30 years, they are moving southward. Also, the Adelie population – once tens of thousands of breeding pairs – went to just a few thousand, while Chinstrap and Gintoo penguins are moving in Adelie’s former turf. Also, polar bears can lose about 68 percent of their summer habitat by 2100.

With a temperature increase of 6 degrees Celsius over the past 50 years, in the West Antarctic Peninsula, phytoplankton blooms dropped to 12 percent. And the krill populations – main food for penguins, whales, fish – are also dropping fast, their place being taken by salps – jellyfish organisms, that are inferior as a food source.

However, the shocking side of the matter is that “it’s not like it’s happening over hundreds of years. It’s happening over decades,” said oceanographer Oscar Schofield (Rutgers University of Newark, New Jersey).

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