The Climate Crisis 2022: Part 2- Climate Change Impacts

Last month, Flamingo Garden’s Eco-teer Tiffany Engel discussed The Greenhouse Gas Effect in Part 1 of the “Climate Change 101” as presented by the Eco-teers as part of their November 2022 Climate Fair. This month Eco-teer Ines Rosales discusses Climate Change Impacts affecting the world and Florida specifically.

Earth’s global average surface temperature in 2020 tied with 2016 as the warmest year on record, according to an analysis by NASA.

NASA uses the unique vantage point of space to better understand Earth as an interconnected system. The agency also uses airborne and ground-based measurements and develops new ways to observe and study Earth with long-term data records and computer analysis tools to better see how our planet is changing.

Continuing the planet’s long-term warming trend, the year’s globally averaged temperature was 1.84 degrees Fahrenheit (1.02 degrees Celsius) warmer than the baseline 1951-1980 mean, according to scientists at NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies (GISS) in New York. 2020 edged out 2016 by a very small amount, within the margin of error of the analysis, making the years effectively tied for the warmest year on record.

According to independent analyses by NASA and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), Earth’s global surface temperatures in 2019 were the second warmest since modern recordkeeping began in 1880.

Globally, 2019 temperatures were second only to those of 2016 (now tied with 2020) and continued the planet’s long-term warming trend: the past six years have been the warmest of the last 140 years.

Using climate models and statistical analysis of global temperature data, scientists have concluded that this increase mostly has been driven by increased emissions into the atmosphere of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases produced by human activities.

Rising temperatures in the atmosphere and ocean are contributing to the continued mass loss from Greenland and Antarctica and to increases in some extreme events, such as heat waves, wildfires, intense precipitation.

NASA shares this knowledge with the global community and works with institutions in the United States and around the world that contribute to understanding and protecting our home planet. You can see the NASA video Global Warming from 1880 to 2020 at: https://climate.nasa.gov/climate_resources/139/video-global-warming-from-1880-to-2020/

Ice serves like the Earth’s natural air conditioning system. Large land-based ice formations naturally retreat each summer, but unusually warm temperatures have led to greater-than-average melting.

The Arctic Ocean is expected to become essentially ice free in summer before mid-century.

There is a difference between land ice and sea ice melting. The two main impacts of ice melt is:

  • Land ice includes ice sheets and glaciers. When it melts, it eventually finds its way into the nearest body of water because of gravity. Therefore, land ice melting directly adds to the volume of water in the ocean, increasing sea level. ( Land ice melting causes sea level rise)
  • Sea ice includes frozen seawater and icebergs. When it melts, it does not directly add to sea level rise because it’s already in the sea. (the volume is already accounted for) BUT it exposes more dark ocean, allowing the ocean surface to absorb more heat, and further encourage the melting of ice. (This is a positive feedback loop: an initial effect causes a secondary effect that perpetuates the initial effect.)

SOURCE:

https://climate.nasa.gov/effects/

https://svs.gsfc.nasa.gov/4435

The past decade has seen unprecedented glacier retreat. Observations from 11 satellite missions monitoring the Greenland and Antarctic ice sheets have revealed that the regions are losing ice six times faster than they were in the 1990s. This video shows how, in the past 10 years, this glacier has retreated more than it had in the previous 100 years. You can see the video at: https://www.nasa.gov/feature/jpl/greenland-antarctica-melting-six-times-faster-than-in-the-1990s

threat of intense storms and the increasing threats of sea level rise, ocean chemistry, heatwaves, and water deficit.

* Jenny Staletovich, “Florida Leads Nation in Property at Risk from Climate Change,” Miami Herald, July 27, 2015. http://www.miamiherald.com/news/local/environment/article29029159.html

Hurricanes are expected to become larger and stronger, with more rainfall and larger storm surges, moving slower, and with rapid intensification. The criterion for rapid intensification is an increase in wind speeds of 35mph in 24 hours. Hurricane Ian jumped 35mph in just 4 hours!

In South Florida, we can expect at least 2 feet of sea level rise by 2050. Even more, by 2100, a rise of as much or more than 8 to 10 feet cannot be rules out.

The coastline of the United States is highly populated.  Approximately 25 million people live in an area vulnerable to coastal flooding. Coastal and ocean activities, such as marine transportation of goods, offshore energy drilling, resource extraction, fish cultivation, recreation, and tourism are integral to the nation’s economy, generating 58% of the national gross domestic product (GDP).

Coastal areas are also home to species and habitats that provide many benefits to society and natural ecosystems.

In South Florida drinking water is already experiencing saltwater intrusion.

Biscayne Bay Aquifer is the only source of drinking water for about 3 million people in Miami and Dade County. The highly permeable limestone provides fresh drinking water. but also allows easy saltwater intrusion. Rising sea levels cause saltwater to “intrude” further landward into the freshwater Biscayne Aquifer, increasing the vulnerability of the region’s drinking water to saltwater intrusion. 

Additionally, rising sea levels push salt water further into the Everglades, potentially causing loss of wetland plants and habitat. With saltwater intrusion, Miami’s drinking water will be more expensive and will impact marginalized communities disproportionately

About the Author: Ines Rosales is a Senior at ­­­­Cypress Bay High School and volunteer member of Flamingo Gardens’ Eco-teers. Her blog The Climate Change Impacts is Part 2 of the “Climate Change 101” presentation by the Eco-teers as part of their November 2022 Climate Fair. Look for Part 3, Climate Change Impacts to Marginalized Communities, to follow next month.