Impact of Climate Change on Ecosystem and Biodiversity

  • According to the International World Wildlife Fund (WWF)
    • species from the tropics to the poles are at risk.
    • Many species may be unable to move to new areas quickly enough to survive changes that rising temperatures will bring to their historic habitats.
    • 1/5th of the world’s most vulnerable natural areas may be facing a “catastrophic” loss of species.
  • Impact on Marine Ecosystems:
    • They will be affected not only by an increase in sea temperature and changes in ocean circulation but also by ocean acidification; as the concentration of dissolved carbon dioxide (carbonic acid) rises.
    • This is expected to negatively affect shell-forming organisms, corals, and their dependent ecosystems.
    • The Bramble Cay Melomy is the first mammal to go extinct due to human-induced climate change.
  • Impact on Mangroves:
    • The ongoing climate change turned out to be a potential threat to the remaining Indian mangroves and other coastal ecosystems.
    • Adverse effects on mangroves extend its serious consequence to the adjoining fragile ecosystem such as coral reef and seagrass bed.
    • The impact of climate change on highly diverse and productive mangrove forests will depend upon the rate of sea-level rise relative to growth rates and sediment supply and changes in the climate-ocean environment.
    • Climate unsuitability is an important factor responsible for mangrove’s change and disappearance.
    • According to the IPCC report, sea-level rise will affect mangroves by eliminating or modifying their present habitats and creating new tidally inundated areas to which some mangrove species may shift.
    • Strict protection, preparation of an action plan for each mangrove area, afforestation in potential areas, plantation of species that fail to adapt to sea-level rise, and introducing threatened species at higher latitudes are some of the mitigation and management options.
  • Impact on Desert Ecosystem:
    • According to IPCC, climate change refers to any change in climate over time, whether due to natural variability or as a result of human activity.
    • In many dryland areas like Rajasthan and adjoining areas of Punjab and Haryana, the climate has become even more arid and rivers, lakes and underground water sources are drying up. This can have major impacts not only on physical processes (such as the water cycle), but also on ecosystem functions.
    • The UNCCD has recently indicated that: “The climatic effects on land occur at ecosystem and landscape levels”.
    • Increase in extreme events:
      • Frequent floods will lead to soil erosion and thereby degrading land. It will promote desertification.
      • Droughts on the other hand adversely affect the recharge of soil moisture and groundwater table. Soils dry up and become prone to wind erosion. Ex. Vidarbha, Telangana, etc.
      • Forest fires will cause forest biome. It will expose the topsoil for erosion. This may lead to desertification. E.g. Amazon forest fire, Uttarakhand forest fire, and Bandipur National park forest fire
    • Biodiversity loss: Climate change may adversely affect biodiversity and exacerbate desertification due to an increase in evapotranspiration and a likely decrease in rainfall in drylands
    • Rural-urban migration: Climate change leads to a decline in agricultural productivity which results in rural-urban migration and abandonment of agricultural land and systematic fallowing. In dry conditions and fallowing aggravate soil erosion.
  • Impact of climate change on Mountain Ecosystems:
    • Mountain ecosystems are hot spots of biodiversity. However, temperature increases, and human activities are causing fragmentation and degradation of mountain biodiversity. Example: Snow Leopards.
    • The Himalayas is home to the largest number of glaciers after the North and the South Poles. However, climate change is threatening this life-giver drastically.
    • It is also predicted that there will be an increase in the phenomenon of Glacial Lake Outburst Floods (GLOFs) in the eastern and the central Himalayas, causing catastrophic flooding downstream with serious damage to life, property, forests, farms, and infrastructure.
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