SeaWiFS Project, NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center, and ORBIMAGE
You've heard a lot about how human-driven climate change will lead to hotter temperatures, cause sea levels to rise and make storms more intense. But it's projected to have plenty of other unpleasant and even disastrous effects as well. Here are 10 of them. Scientists believe that rising temperatures will lead to increased evaporation of the Great Lakes' water, and precipitation won't make up the difference. That means we're likely to see declines in water levels over the next century, and one study predicts they may drop as much as 8 feet.Earth Shots: Must See Planet Pics (Sept. 21)
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Thanks to climate change, jumbo-sized ragweed plants will spew out more pollen for a longer, more miserable allergy season.Here Are 10 Striking Images Of Future Sea Levels
CDC/ Dr. Scott Smith
By altering the wild environment, climate change makes it easier for newly mutated microbes to jump between species, and it's likely that as a result, diseases will emerge and spread across the globe even more rapidly.
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A recent Nature article reported that male Australian central bearded dragons have been growing female genitalia because of rising temperatures, a phenomenon that had not previously been observed in that species.10 Signs Climate Change Is Already Happening
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
Rising sea levels are wiping out beaches all over the world already. Importing fresh sand and building them up again is only a temporary solution. To make matters worse, there's currently a sand shortage, due to demand from fracking, glass and cement making.
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Bark beetles are eating old growth forests, because the winters aren't cold enough to kill them off. So more trees like this American Elm will die.VIDEO: Global Warming And Climate Change: What's The Diff?
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Warmer temperatures mean there will be more water vapor trapped in the atmosphere, leading to more lightning. A University of California-Berkeley study predicts that lightning strikes will increase by about 12 percent for every degree Celsius gained.Sierra Nevada Snowpack Worst In Five Centuries
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Wine grape harvests are being hurt. Regions that have historically supplied the world’s best wine will no longer be hospitable climates to grow wine grapes, according to research by the Environmental Defense Fund and others.
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Coffee flavor depends upon really narrow conditions of temperature and moisture, and climate change is going to wreak havoc with that. Worse yet, as coffee growing regions become warmer, pests that couldn't survive in the past will ravage the crops. This is already being seen in Costa Rica, India and Ethiopia, which have experienced sharp declines in crop yields.California Drought by the Numbers
Climate change has pushed French wines into uncharted territory, and could force producers to relocate, or abandon the grapes that helped to make their vineyards famous, scientists said Monday.
Since 1980, growing conditions in northern climes such as Champagne and Burgundy, as well as in sun-drenched Bordeaux, have fundamentally changed the “harvest equation” that defined these storied regions, they reported in NatureClimate Change.
“For much of France, local climates have been relatively stable for hundreds or thousands of years,” said Elizabeth Wolkovich, an assistant professor of evolutionary biology at Harvard University and co-author of the study.
“But that is shifting with climate change,” she told AFP.
Many ingredients go into great winemaking: soil, grape variety, slope, exposure to the Sun, along with savoir faire in the vineyards and the cellar.
But exceptional vintages have historically also required an early harvest produced by abundant spring rains, hot summers, and a late-season drought.
Droughts helped heighten temperatures just enough to bring in the harvest a few weeks early, said lead author Benjamin Cook, a climate scientist at Columbia University’s Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory in New York City and lead author of the study.
It is “basic physics at work,” he explained.
In ordinary years, the daily evaporation of moisture from soil has a cooling effect. A Indian summer makes the soil dryer — less evaporation means a warmer soil surface.
Since about 1980, however, this last element of the equation has largely vanished, the study found.
“Now, it’s become so warm thanks to climate change, grape growers don’t need drought to get these very warm temperatures,” Cook said.
That, he added, is a “fundamental shift in the large-scale climate under which other, local factors operate.”
Using meticulous records dating back to 1600, Cook and Wolkovich found harvest dates have moved up by two full weeks since 1980 compared to the average for the preceding 400 years.
For France as a whole, temperatures have warmed by about 1.5 degrees Celsius (2.7 degrees Fahrenheit) over the 20th Century, and the mercury is still rising.
In the short term, that has produced some “grands millesimes,” the French term for stand-out years.
For Bordeaux, 1990, 2005 and 2010 have all been described as once-a-century vintages, while in Burgundy 2005 and 2009 are said to hold exceptional promise.
But in the long run — measured in decades — these conditions may evolve into something far less favourable, the study warned.
“If we keep warming, the globe will reach a tipping point,” said Wolkovich, pointing to what happened in 2003.
During that summer, the thermometer climbed past 40C (104F) on half-a-dozen days in the Bordeaux region in early August.
“That may be a good indicator of where we are headed,” she added. “If we keep pushing the heat up, vineyards can’t maintain that forever.”
In France, signature grape varietals — pinot noir in Burgundy, and Merlot in Bordeaux — will no longer be as well-adapted. Instead, southern England could become the new Champagne, with better climate conditions for Chardonnay.
In other wine-producing regions such as California and Australia, the solution may be to find new “terroir” better suited to these famous grapes.
In France, however, it may not be so simple.
French wines such as Champagne, Sauternes, Margaux or Saint-Emilion are grown only in authorized areas and according to rules about which grape varieties can be used in what proportions.
For many wine-makers, changing these rules is tantamount to changing the identity of the wine.