How Will Climate Change Affect The Environment

5 min read

How Will Climate Change Affect The Environment – Victoria’s climate has changed in recent decades, becoming drier. These changes are expected to continue in the future. The graph below shows the current and projected impacts of climate change in Victoria under a high emissions scenario.

Australian plants and animals have adapted to changes in altitude. These include hot and dry years, cool and wet years, and occasional fires and floods.

How Will Climate Change Affect The Environment

How Will Climate Change Affect The Environment

Fossils show species change with climate change. However, there are limits to which plants and animals can change. The most rapid movements in the past have been at least five times slower than projected climate change.

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Over the past 2.6 million years, Earth has experienced alternating warm and cold periods (ice ages).

The transition from the end of the last “cold period” to the beginning of the “warm period” lasted 9000 years and was associated with a global warming of 5°C.

This number represents changes in ecosystem conditions over time. When disturbance (black line) reaches ecological thresholds, ecosystem health and functioning decline significantly. After that, the state of the ecosystem is lower, indicating a “new normal”. Retrieved from Dana M

Over time, certain species disappear from certain areas and are replaced by other species (weeds and pests). Other changes happen quickly, over weeks or months.

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Some ecosystems may no longer provide suitable habitat for species or provide the same ecosystem services.

We know that climate change will cause changes in the distribution, composition, structure and function of ecosystems.

First, there are many things we don’t know (and never will) about plants and animals. For example, our knowledge of the physiology, demography, and genetics of many species is limited.

How Will Climate Change Affect The Environment

Physiology is the study of how plants and animals work. Physiological traits such as temperature tolerance affect survival, growth, development, movement, and reproduction. Species with narrower tolerances may be more vulnerable to the effects of climate change.

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Demography is the study of changes in population due to births, deaths and migration. Demographic variables, such as survival of plants to reproductive age, can affect population size. Species that require special conditions to survive and grow may be more susceptible to the effects of climate change.

Genetics is the science that studies the transmission of genes and traits from generation to generation. Genes can determine how well a person can tolerate a future climate. Species with low genetic diversity may be more vulnerable to the effects of climate change.

The lack of basic biological data makes it difficult to predict whether or how species will adapt to changing conditions.

We better understand food webs (“what eats what in an ecosystem”) and how differences in fire frequency or average rainfall affect the distribution of plants and animals today.

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Our understanding of other relationships, such as competition and pollination, and how they are affected by climate change is much more limited.

Explain the complex relationships and ideas involved in managing foxes. From DELWP 2020 Biodiversity Education Program Version 1

This means that we cannot assume that the same ecosystems will have the same effect across the state. In 2019-20, some of the forests in the Great Dividing Range burned severely.

How Will Climate Change Affect The Environment

Ecosystems have been and continue to be affected by stressors such as habitat loss, invasive species, and resource development. Even within the same ecosystem, the degree of impact may vary. Climate change exacerbates the impacts, but this varies by state.

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Therefore, the impact of climate change on nature cannot be considered separately. Major societal changes, such as demographic changes and technological advances, can affect nature. The exact nature and timing of these effects are unknown.

The bottom line is that we don’t know how much greenhouse gas emissions will decrease in the next 20, 50, or 100 years. It determines the level of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere and the level of warming at their peak.

Average annual temperature in Victoria shows the highest (RCP 8.5) and lowest (RCP 2.6) emission pathways relative to pre-industrial times. The thick line shows the 20-year mean temperature averaged over all models for each period. (Source: CSIRO, 2019, Victorian Weather Forecast 2019)

Although nature is complex and the consequences of climate change uncertain, we do know a lot. We are beginning to see the effects of climate change, particularly fires, droughts, shrinking snowpack, and rising sea temperatures. These conditions can worsen over time.

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For some ecosystems and species, we don’t need to collect more data to understand how climate change might affect them.

Climate change, loss of land and hunting grounds, changes in fire regimes, and depletion of animals in oceans and rivers affect the culture and customs of local people.

Snow cover in the Victorian Alps has declined by nearly 50% since the 1960s. Future climate change suggests that snow cover and snow accumulation may decrease significantly in the future.

How Will Climate Change Affect The Environment

Extensive tree canopies are increasing in native forests and may continue to do so as the climate warms. This leads to a constant shift of trees to fewer landscapes and to species that are more tolerant of hot and dry conditions.

Common Adverse Impacts Of Climate Change On The Environment

In recent years, snowdrops have been dying at an unprecedented rate due to contamination by native wood-boring insects – longhorned beetles. These insects are not normally a threat to snow crabs, but warm, dry conditions help them multiply and grow faster. Eucalyptus trees have amazing abilities to regenerate and regenerate after fire and drought, but they also have limitations.

In many areas of Victoria where the snow melts, repeated droughts and fires leave energy reserves to fight off small infestations of fungi or insects.

Some plant species are adapted to regular fires, but some may not recover if fires are not given sufficient time. The alpine ash tree is a “primary seed disperser” and can regenerate from seeds after fire. Alpine ash does not produce seeds until 20 years old, fires do not occur often. Since 2002, most of Victoria’s alpine trees have been destroyed by several fires, with many mature trees burned. This means that few forests have enough trees to plant. The maturity stage of alpine ash means that it cannot regenerate naturally.

Fire and weather are strong drivers of small mammal abundance. Some mammal species, such as the southern brown bandicoot, require unburned habitat for decades. As climate change makes fires more frequent, the number of these mammals may decline.

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Without normal flows and tides, wetlands can disappear and be replaced by terrestrial vegetation. The most vulnerable areas of inland wetlands are likely to be the floodplains and catchments of the Goulburn River in western Victoria, the wetlands of northern and western Victoria and the High Alpine Wetlands.

Climate change is expected to reduce flooding in large wetlands in the Murray-Darling Basin, threatening colonial waterfowl species such as heron, heron and cormorant.

Colonial waterfowl species that inhabit the forested wetlands of the Murray-Darling Basin often require significant flooding to breed. Wetlands must be large enough for hatchlings to hatch. If the water level drops before the pups reach maturity, they may be abandoned by their parents and die.

How Will Climate Change Affect The Environment

Small changes in rainfall can have a large effect on runoff – in general, a 10% reduction in rainfall results in a 20-30% reduction in runoff. The effects are unlikely to be uniform—the central and western parts of the state have seen the steepest declines since the Millennium Drought began (1997).

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As water levels in rivers and wetlands fall, water temperatures rise and dissolved oxygen levels decrease. In this case, the risk of toxic algae blooms and fish kills increases.

Characteristics that are attractive to many weeds and pests, including their ability to tolerate a wide range of conditions and their ability to reproduce rapidly, help them take advantage of new opportunities.

As changes occur, plant species that are not currently considered weeds may become a problem in the future.

Climate change affects the distribution and abundance of species. It can be difficult to predict, but species with limited dispersal capabilities, restricted geographic ranges, or restricted to specific habitats are less protected.

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The species is expected to move to higher elevations in the mountains. However, most Victorian species are limited in their ability to do so due to the relatively flat terrain. High mountain species may not be “simply visible from the air”.

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