Climate change is affecting parts of the world that had not previously been considered by the general public. That is according to a new report by the U.S. Forest Service, showing the reach of such change is further than was previously expected. One area included in the study is the hardwood forests in the Midwest of the U.S., which are due to experience longer periods alternately of drought and precipitation, something that had as yet not been commonly well-known.
For most people, climate change is something distant, that has not yet happened, or if it has, it is elsewhere, according to Leslie Brandt, an expert with the U.S. Forest Service and climate change, and author of a study on hardwoods. She developed the study as a resource for people to learn about and care for hardwood ecosystems.
One of the effects on hardwoods is that higher temperatures, brought about by rising greenhouse gases, will lead to longer growing seasons than previously. In addition, precipitation is expected to decrease later in the growing season and temperatures will rise in winter, which will affect frost and snow cover.
Another effect of climate change is that certain species of trees may be reduced while others, able to manage in warmer climates, may further proliferate. Yet, on the other hand, certain tree species may have difficulty reaching new areas. All of this will affect the people, as well as animals and plants, that live in regions affected.
Within the past 40 years, there have been changes in the minimum temperature by approximately two degrees Fahrenheit, and precipitation has increased by 17 percent. Moreover, snow cover decrease has led to development of additional snow frost. A concern for those who care for the forests is how to foster their resilience to ensure their sustainability.
On the other side of the planet, in the Antarctic Ocean, climate change is a concern among scientists who recently published a study in Nature Climate Change. They are exploring a new phenomenon that they first examined in 1974, whereby intensive heat releases in the deep sea had allowed production and maintenance of large areas of persistent open water where one would expect to find sea ice – known among scientists as polynya. Polynya provide an escape valve for ocean heat. What scientists have found recently is that climate change alters the salinity of the deep ocean waters, meaning that less heat is rising to the surface – the polynya are reducing in number – meaning more heat is being trapped deep under the sea. Without the safety release of polynya, when heat rises from the depths of the ocean, it has the effect of melting surface ice. According to the study, this is a drastic result of climate change.
North of Antarctica, in the South Pacific, there is a further example of climate change. The coral reefs are struggling to survive in increasingly warmer waters, which causes them to become bleached and sick, and if too warm for too long, they will die. Coral provide sustenance and shelter for ocean life, so the ecosystem of the ocean is disrupted due to warming oceans. The video below depicts the process of how coral bleaching occurs. The reach of climate change is yet unknown. However, the above studies show that it is continually affecting the land and sea on which people, plants and animals rely.
By Fern Remedi-Brown