Due to use of fossil fuels, years of recycling mistakes, and a variety of other environmentally irresponsible acts, the planet is in danger. From heavier flooding to unseasonably warm and cold weather, extremes in weather patterns are only expected to increase in the coming years.
Here, we discuss some of the most problematic meteorological events thought to be caused or exacerbated by climate change.
Some scientists believe it may be too early to definitively say that global warming can cause more frequent or severe hurricanes and tropical cyclones. However, most agree that there’s at least some connection. The main thing scientists stress is that the true effects are still to be realized. However, they are learning more about the phenomenon all the time.
Even though more research is needed, what is known is that by the conclusion of the 21st century, tropical cyclones are expected to be more intense based on projections using scientific models. This increased intensity is likely to result in more devastating weather-related events that cover a wider area.
Hurricanes occur when the temperature of large bodies of water, such as seas or oceans, prizes above 26°C (or 78.8°F) and water vapor mixes with wind and humidity. Changes in hurricane frequency and severity are hard to ignore. Evidence of these changes can be seen in recent major weather events. For example, Hurricane Katrina in 2005 occurred in an unseasonably warm year. In fact, experts believe that hurricanes are twice as likely to occur in warmer years than in cooler ones.
Despite the debates regarding whether or not global warming makes for more intense hurricanes, the majority of scientists believe there is a strong connection. Data from tide gauges, which monitor changes in sea levels due to storm surges, indicate a marked increase in hurricane activity may be related to higher temperatures.
Earthquakes and Volcanoes
Scientists have also been studying the link between climate change and its relationship to earthquakes and volcanic eruptions. In recent decades, the world has witnessed devastating seismic events, and researchers warn that the planet will continue to experience similar events.
Some researchers have even postulated a link between global warming and the shifting of the earth’s tectonic plates. When these plates come in contact with each other, earthquakes and volcanic activity occur. Fault lines are very sensitive to minor changes, and variations in pressure and temperature caused by global warming put stress on the fault lines. This may weaken them over time.
Changes in Winter Weather Patterns
From the 1970s onward, temperatures have risen steadily in the Pacific Northwest and the Northeast regions of the United States. Researchers have noted that the winter season continues to shorten each year, with spring coming approximately 2 weeks sooner than it did just two decades ago.
Precipitation is also on the rise as a result of climate change. Although winters now have a shorter duration, many regions have experienced unprecedented levels of snowfall. The upper Midwest and Northeast regions have been especially impacted. Shorter winters have also thrown off many animal species’ migratory patterns. This includes pests such as disease-carrying ticks and pine bark beetles that can wreak havoc on vegetation.
In areas of the country that rely on winter weather for the stability of their economies, the effects of climate change haven’t gone unnoticed. Ski destinations in the Northeast may experience a 25 to 45 percent reduction in the duration of their ski seasons in the latter half of this century. Recreational activities such as ice fishing will likely also decline, since lakes and rivers are taking longer to freeze. This results in a layer of ice that’s too thin to safely navigate.
Heavy snow also accounts for an estimated 1.2 billion dollars a year spent on removing snow and ice from roads. This comes with its own set of environmental hazards. Conservation experts recommend that municipalities focus on more efficient planning and work on preparing well in advance for these types of meteorological events. By being proactive instead of reactive, the aftermath will be reduced in the wake of unpredictable weather.
Citizens can help mitigate the damage by educating themselves and assisting environmental groups in spreading the word about climate change. Also, striving to live as sustainably is possible can help reduce potential damage. This includes decreasing reliance on fossil fuels, disposing of waste properly, and purchasing environmentally responsible products, to name a few.
One of the easiest ways to help mitigate the damaged caused by global warming is to reduce society’s reliance on fossil fuels, thereby reducing the amount of emissions released into the atmosphere. Although the damage the environment has sustained cannot not be completely reversed, reducing consumption and understanding the risks of the status quo are important steps to take.