Global climate change has already had some observable effects on the environment and the planet. Glaciers are shrinking, ice is breaking up earlier and trees are flowering sooner.
Scientists have predicted the effects of climate change and they have since come to pass. Ice in the sea is disappearing. Sea levels are rising at an accelerated rate and heat waves are becoming longer and more intense.
As the current trend continues scientists have predicted global temperatures will continue to rise for decades to come due to greenhouse gases in our atmosphere. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) which consists of over 1300 top climate scientists predict temperatures to rise by 2.5 to 10°F over the next hundred years. They also predict that an increase in global temperature of 1.8 to 5.4°F above 1990 levels will impact on our environment greatly.
What does this mean?
If global warming continues sea levels will rise between 7 and 23 inches by the end of the century. This will devastate coastlines and low-lying areas and islands, threaten coastal populations, erode shorelines, damage property and destroy delicate ecosystems including mangroves and wetlands that protect coast during storms.
Hurricanes and storms will increase in intensity and frequency. 2017 Is the first year in more than a century, and only the fourth time on record, in which ten consecutive Atlantic storms reached hurricane strength. The other 10 hurricane runs came in 1878, 1886 and 1893. Since modern records began in 1851 there has never been an 11 hurricane stretch. According to climate change scientist Katherine Hayhoe higher ocean temperatures don’t have an effect on the number of storms, but it has a role in intensifying a storm that already exists.
Warmer air temperatures mean that there is more moisture in the air. When there is more water in the air, when there is precipitation, it can become more intense, meaning increased volumes of water that can cause flooding. On the flipside of this, warmer air means that soils will dry out quicker, causing droughts. This means that areas, where there are droughts, will experience flooding after the dry periods, so areas will have both droughts and flooding, just not at the same time.
Fresh water will become scarce. For example, if the Quelccaya ice cap in Peru continues to melt at its current rate it will disappear by 2100, which will leave thousands of people without drinking water. Water from here also powers hydropower stations so people will also be left without power.
Rising temperatures and changing patterns of precipitation are changing where plants grow. As this happens wildlife has to adapt quickly. If the current global warming trend continues, experts predict a quarter of all species to be extinct by 2050.