Climate Change

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Coastal areas and the marine ecosystem have already been placed under a wide range of direct anthropogenic pressures, but there are indirect pressures stemming from human activity that are having a more serious effect on the global climate.

Eutrophication Observed at Lough Hyne (Image Credit: Rob McAllen)

Global warming, now known as climate change, is a key topic of discussion around the world, with most people having at least a general understanding of what is occurring today. What is not as generally realised is that climate change, is a naturally occurring phenomenon, however, it has been aggravated and expedited by the influence of humans. Increased C0emissions in the last 100 years are having profound effects on atmospheric and sea surface temperature, and sea levels around the world. These changes are having further knock on effects on weather patterns and ocean currents, which further increases issues such as coastal erosion and ocean acidification.

Another major issue arising from changing climates is the number of non-native or invasive species being discovered outside of their usual habitats, which can pose major threats to native flora and fauna. Although the concept of climate change in coastal environments seems relatively simple, it is far more complex when looked at from a wider perspective. It is quite possible that with continued research and investigation, an entirely new side of this phenomenon will be revealed. What is known, and has been proven, is that the human race is responsible for the vast majority of these rapid changes. Added pressures of temperature changes, shifting weather patterns, changes to oceanic chemistry, and introduction of non-native species to new areas, are creating even more difficulties for the marine environment. Earth’s ecosystems cannot withstand these pressures indefinitely. Eventually something has got to give. Something, such as reducing carbon emissions, could have untold benefits in terms of slowing these changes to the planet’s environment. Although most of these problems cannot be eliminated immediately, they can be reduced in scale, giving the marine environment, with all its biodiversity, time to recover to a sustainable level.

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