Environmental effects of climate change

Rising temperatures

The diagram below shows the likely increase of temperatures from the current levels and the areas at risk of flood.

Map of the world showing projected increases in temperature

Futures studies show that global temperatures may rise by the end of the 21st century.

Global warming on this scale would lead to many negative effects at a global and local level.

Ice is melting worldwide, especially at the Earth’s poles. This includes mountain glaciers, ice sheets covering west Antarctica and Greenland, and Arctic sea ice.

The diagram below shows the changing levels of Arctic sea ice over a 30 year period.

Arctic Ocean sea ice coverage in 1979, 1994, 1999 and 2011.

Sea levels may rise by as much as between 18 and 59 centimeters by the end of the century and continued melting at the poles could add between 10 to 20 centimeters to already rising waters.

An increase in sea temperatures causes the water to expand, compounding the problem of flooding.

This means coastal land is at risk, especially land on deltas.

Low-lying land is threatened, therefore the lives of 80 million people across the globe will be threatened, including the Shetland Islands in Scotland, Bangladesh and Japan

Sea defences will be under more stress.

The video below describes the effects of rising sea levels on the Maldives.

The ocean circulation may also be disrupted. This could have unknown effects on world climate.