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
Unusual warming in the waters off the northeastern United States has killed off vast numbers of Atlantic cod, further endangering a valuable and iconic fishery despite years of fishing restrictions, researchers said Thursday.
New England cod stocks are on the verge of collapse, numbering at 3 to 4 percent of what scientists say are sustainable levels.
The problem has been fueled by overfishing, and exacerbated by a stark warming trend in the Gulf of Maine that is unparalleled on Earth, researchers said in the journal Science.
From 2004 to 2013, the rate of warming in that area was almost a quarter degree Celsius (.41 Fahrenheit).
“The Gulf of Maine had warmed faster than 99.9 percent of the global ocean over that period,” said lead author Andrew Pershing, chief scientific officer of the Gulf of Maine Research Institute, who studied records back through the 1900s for comparison.
“It was a rate that few large marine ecosystems had ever encountered,” he told reporters.
The reasons for the spike include global warming and a shift in the Gulf Stream.
For fish, these warmer temperatures led to fewer offspring and fewer juveniles surviving until adulthood.
Even a series of restrictions on cod fishing put in place to try to save the population was too slow to keep up with the fast-rising temperatures.
“The rate of changed outpaced the ability of people to make decisions about the ecosystem,” Pershing said.
Quotas kept falling, meaning that fishermen were allowed to take fewer fish, but the models that helped managers make these decisions “consistently overestimated the abundance of cod,” Pershing added.
“Warming waters were making the Gulf of Maine less hospitable for cod, and the management response was too slow to keep up with the changes.”
Experts know that the warming climate is already forcing many species to shift from their traditional habitats toward temperatures that are more suited for their survival.
But rather than move north, the struggling Gulf of Maine cod population — a species that prefers cold water — has actually shifted southward over the past 45 years, researchers say.
A combination of both overfishing and reduced reproduction in warming waters are to blame for this unfortunate migration, experts say.
“We often wonder if it is fishing or climate, but it is both,” said Janet Nye from the School of Marine and Atmospheric Sciences at Stony Brook University in New York.
“It is almost always environmental factors combined with fishing that cause stocks to collapse or fail to recover.”
But not all cod are in the same boat.
A study out earlier this week found that cod to the north, off the coast of Canada, are rebounding and have made a comeback in recent years.
Researchers said their findings on the Gulf of Maine cod were likely to stoke controversy among fishermen, whose livelihoods are already limited by the fishing restrictions.
More adaptable approaches to management of fisheries could help resolve the problem in the future, said Katherine Mills from the Gulf of Maine Research Institute.
“The Gulf of Maine cod, I think, is a wake-up call that we need to bridge the disconnect that currently exists between oceanography, fisheries ecology and stock assessment science,” she said.
“There is important science being done in all three of these fields, but perhaps their greatest value will be realized when they are brought together.”