It does not take much more than a basic understanding of climate science to appreciate that global warming will continue to have far reaching impacts in 2014 and beyond. Here is a review of some of the well known impacts predicted by climate models. This includes higher atmospheric levels of CO2, warmer temperatures, melting ice, flooding, the spread of infectious diseases, diminished water quality, decreased food production, excessive heat and other extreme weather events.
The planet currently absorbs half our CO2 emissions. However, the level of CO2 absorption is expected reach a saturation point where the oceans and other carbon sinks will no longer be able to naturally sequester CO2.
Melting Ice and Rising Seas
In the Northern Hemisphere ice cover should decrease further, while the Antarctic ice sheet may increase somewhat. The Arctic Ocean was not expected to melt until the end of the century, but current trends suggest it will melt within a decade or two. Greenland’s ice is melting at a much faster rate than expected. Melting ice is expected to contribute to sea level rises between 9 and 88 cm (3.5″ to 35″).
Global warming is also predicted to increase the spread of infectious diseases. Specifically, scientists predict an increase in the number of people exposed to vector borne diseases (e.g. cholera).
Climate change will tend to degrade water quality through higher water temperatures and increased pollutant load from runoff and overflows of waste facilities.
Some had hoped that global warming would increase food production by providing more arable land to plant crops. However, we can expect that in 2014 food prices will continue to climb soaring as we experience more extreme weather that devastates crops.
Climate models predict more frequent and more intense heat waves and drought. If the worst climate predictions are realised, vast swathes of the globe could become too hot for humans to survive. Global mean temperature should increase by between 1.4 and 5.8 C (2.5 to 10 F). The severe heat is expected to lead to an increase in heat stress mortality.
A warming planet will continue to increase the amount of moisture in the atmosphere and this will fuel more extreme weather events. Projected adverse impacts include more storm surges causing flooding that could impact tens of millions of people. Intense storms including hurricanes and cyclones are also anticipated.
© 2013, Richard Matthews. All rights reserved.
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