One of the worst and most vivid signs of climate change is global temperature rise. Over the past couple of decades, the earth has warmed drastically and at an alarming rate. Its average surface temperature has increased 2.0 degrees Fahrenheit (1.1 degrees Celsius) since the late 19th century, and it is almost solely caused by emissions of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases, and we humans are responsible for this. Day by day, the earth is getting hotter and closer to inhabitable.
Global Temperature By The Numbers:
Sixteen of the 17 warmest years in the 136-year record all have occurred since 2001, with the exception of 1998. The warmest year in the record was 2016. The time series below shows the five-year average variation of global surface temperatures. Dark blue indicates areas cooler than average. Dark red indicates areas warmer than average.
From the graphs, it is evident that global warming is direly affecting the earth’s atmosphere and habitat. We better take a step before it’s too late to turn back.
We’ve all read in elementary science that almost 70% of the earth consists of water. These are our oceans. There are seven of them, and like everything else, they also are facing the dire consequences of climate change. The oceans have absorbed most of the released heat of the atmosphere. Almost 700 meters (about 2,300 feet) up to the surface have warmed 0.302 degrees Fahrenheit since 1969. One of the key roles the oceans play in the earth’s climate is soaking up the extra heat from the atmosphere. So the warmer the planet gets, the more heat energy is absorbed by them. But with excess heat, the creatures living in the seas could get in serious trouble. For instance, in some parts of the oceans, krill population has already dropped 80%. Because the krill live in ice cold water near sea ice. They can’t survive in warm water. And without such little creatures like plankton and krill, the whole underwater food chain would be messed up. Coral is another sea creature that is hugely affected by the warming of the waters. They are really fragile animals that build and lives inside shells. It depends on a certain kind of colorful algae for food. The algae make food using sunlight, a process called photosynthesis. They share the food with the coral, and, in turn, the coral gives the algae a safe and sunny place to live. But when the water is too warm, the algae cannot carry out their photosynthesis. They either die or the coral kicks them out. Scientists are not exactly sure how it happens, but it turns out to be bad for the coral, the algae, the fish, and the whole marine ecosystem altogether.
Why should it matter?
The oceans largely affect the climate in some parts of the world like Europe. It carries the heat up to the north in the Atlantic Ocean. There the cold water sinks and spreads out across the planet. And the empty space is refilled with warm water to cool. The warm water helps keep the North Atlantic Ocean warm at winter times, which also warms the countries nearby. The salt in the ocean plays a huge role in this process. Salt in seawater makes the water heavy, so it does not freeze. When salty ocean water freezes, the ice releases the salt, and it mixes with the water below the ice, making it saltier and heavier. The water in the North Atlantic sinks because of the cold and saltiness. But if too much ice melts, the water would become less salty and that could stop the warming of the Atlantic making Europe really cold. Although scientists say it is very unlikely.