Water and climate change
Climate change is happening now and this will have a significant impact on the world’s water resources. In many areas it will increase demands dramatically, creating shortages. Rising sea levels and flooding is certain to have an impact on the quality of our water. As the climate changes and warms up our atmosphere, it alters our rainfall cycles, changing the amount, timing and intensity. Water is vital to our ecosystems, marine and aquatic life, as well as our society. We need clean water to drink, for agricultural purposes and energy production.
How water resources are managed will impact all aspects of our society, especially health. Most of us rely on a steady, reliable water supply that is safe to drink. We use it every day without thinking, for sanitation, cooking, cleaning and personal hygiene. In some parts of the world, water stress is already high, pressure on authorities and charities to give greater access to water and improve quality. Much of the water supplies in developing countries are inadequate. Charities such as WaterAid UK work with local communities to install wells and treat contaminated water supplies. The water crisis that is experienced in these third world countries is likely to become more common worldwide, as climate change affects the quality of the water we use.
Our marine life is already feeling the effects of climate change. The sea surface temperatures rose during the 20th century and have continued to rise. In the period between 1901 through to 2015, sea surface temperatures had risen at an average rate of 0.13 degrees, with temperatures expected to rise further. Coral reefs have been severely affected by the ocean’s temperature increase, causing coral bleaching. This stress response to heightening temperatures has caused a Coral mortality rate of up to 70% in some parts of the world. Severe storms, like hurricanes creating choppy waves can cause physical damage to reefs. As the ocean temperature warms, some marine life is moving location in search of their ideal water temperature. Ecosystems will eventually start to feel an impact due to rising sea levels. Plant life and algae which lay in offshore waters require sunlight to grow and survive. With the water becoming deeper, less sunlight will reach them.
Polar bears rely on arctic sea ice, which is disappearing quickly due to climate change. In some places, Polar bears are starving. In such places as Hudson Bay in Canada there is no sea ice during summer months, forcing the bears to stay on land. They wait for the ice to form again in autumn so they can hunt for their food, but because of the pole temperatures rising, the ice is forming later and melting quicker. This is leaving these animals with little or no food to survive on.
Adapting to climate change, developing opportunities and responding to current environmental issues is essential so that we deal with water management, on land and at sea. Our planet has seen many changes and has gone through climate change before. It will make a huge impact on human, animal, plant and marine life, so it is to all our benefit that we protect our planet the best we can.