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The climate of a region describes the average atmospheric conditions (temperature and precipitation) that region experiences and how much those conditions vary across seasons and years. Climate differs from weather in that weather is the atmospheric conditions at any given moment while climate is the long-term averages, patterns, or trends. This distinction is discussed in more detail in the chapter on climate change.

Climate is heavily influenced by the shape of the Earth, the tilt of the Earth’s axis, and the pattern of the Earth’s movement around the sun. First, the Earth is a sphere, which means that the intensity of the sun’s energy varies across latitudes (Fig. 2.3.2). Near the geographic equator (0° latitude), the sun’s rays hit the Earth directly, and deliver a high amount of heat and light per unit area. At high latitudes (nearer to the poles), the sun’s rays strike the Earth at an oblique angle, and heat and light are spread across a larger area of the Earth’s surface. Thus, the spherical shape of the Earth is responsible for the overall pattern of warmer average temperatures near the equator and cooler average temperatures towards the poles (Fig 2.3.3).

Figure (PageIndex{1}): Relationship between the Earth’s shape and tilt on solar energy. Figure created by L Gerhart-Barley with

Figure (PageIndex{2}): Global patterns of annual average temperature on land. Image from Wikimedia Commons1.

Solar energy input also drives patterns of precipitation and atmospheric circulation (Fig 2.3.4). At the geographic equator, where the sun’s energy is intense, the warm air expands and rises. As it reaches the upper atmosphere, it cools. Since cooler air cannot hold as much water vapor as warm air, these cooling, condensing air masses lose much of their moisture as precipitation. These air masses move away from the equator, towards the north or south. Around 30° N and S latitude, these cool, dry air masses fall back towards the surface of the Earth. As they approach the surface, they warm and absorb moisture back out of the lower atmosphere, causing dry regions around 30° N and 30° S latitudes. These air masses then move back towards the equator, where they will warm, absorb more moisture and rise again, completing the cycle of air movement between 0° (the geographic equator) and 30° N and 30° S (Fig 2.3.4). This cycle of air movement is named a Hadley Cell. Similar cells exist from 30° to 60° latitudes (called Ferrel Cells) and from 60° to 90° latitudes (called Polar Cells), though the Hadley Cell is the strongest, since it is centered where the sun’s energy is most intense. The spherical shape of the Earth, therefore, and its influence on these atmospheric cells, drives the overall pattern of global precipitation, particularly the abundantly high precipitation near the geographic equator and extremely low precipitation at 30°N and 30°S latitudes (Fig 2.3.5)

Figure (PageIndex{3}): Relationship between solar energy, movement of air masses, and global precipitation patterns. Red arrows indicate warm air masses, blue arrows indicate cool air masses. Figure created by L Gerhart-Barley with

Figure (PageIndex{4}): Global average annual precipitation for terrestrial ecosystems. Image from Wikimedia Commons2.

As noted in Figure 2.3.2, the Earth’s axis is tilted approximately 23.5° from vertical. The orientation of the axis stays constant as the Earth rotates around the sun meaning that the intensity of solar radiation a particular region receives varies throughout the year, producing seasons (Fig 2.3.6). In December, the Northern Hemisphere is tilted away from the sun and therefore receives less intense solar energy, while the Southern Hemisphere is tilted towards the sun and therefore receives more intense solar energy. Consequently, December is winter in the Northern Hemisphere and summer in the Southern Hemisphere. In June, the opposite is true; the Southern Hemisphere is tilted away from the sun and the Northern Hemisphere is tilted towards the sun. Consequently, June is summer in the Northern Hemisphere and winter in the Southern Hemisphere. In between these extremes, during September and March, are the seasons of fall and spring.

The tilt of the Earth’s axis also causes changes in the day length, which are tied to the seasons; summer has longer days than winter. December 21 and June 21 are the extremes for day length, called solstices. On December 21st, the Northern Hemisphere has its shortest day (because it is angled away from the sun) and the Southern Hemisphere has its longest day (because it is angled towards the sun). Similarly, on June 21st, the Southern Hemisphere has its shortest day and the Northern Hemisphere has its longest day. The closer a region is to the pole, the greater the change in day length it will experience, such that regions north of the Arctic Circle (~66.5° N) or south of the Antarctic Circle (~66.5° S) fluctuate between 24-hour daylight at the summer solstice and 24-hour night in the winter solstice. Halfway between the solstices on September 21st and March 21st, day and night are of equal length, termed an equinox. The September equinox is autumn for the Northern Hemisphere and spring for the Southern Hemisphere. The March equinox is spring for the Northern Hemisphere and autumn for the Southern Hemisphere.

Figure (PageIndex{5}): Relationship between the tilt of the Earth’s axis and its orbit around the sun. Figure created by L Gerhart-Barley with


It is a common misconception that the seasons are driven by the distance of the Earth from the sun, with warmer seasons occurring when the Earth is close to the sun and cooler seasons occurring when the Earth is far from the sun. The distance of the Earth from the sun does not determine seasons. The pattern of seasons throughout the year is driven entirely by the tilt of the Earth’s axis, which alters the intensity of solar radiation throughout the year. Warmer seasons occur when the solar energy is more intense and cooler seasons occur when solar energy is less intense.

Figure (PageIndex{6}): The distance of the Earth from the sun does not influence seasons. Seasons are driven entirely by the tilt of the Earth’s axis as it orbits around the sun. Figure created by L Gerhart-Barley with

On average, the Earth is approximately 93 million miles from the Sun. This distance does vary a small amount due to the fact that the Earth’s orbit around the sun is an ellipse, not a perfect circle, and the sun is not at the center of the ellipse. Consequently, at some parts of its orbit the Earth is closer to the sun than at other points in the orbit. The December solstice as shown in the figure above (2.4.6) is winter in the Northern Hemisphere because the solar intensity is lower, even though the Earth is closer to the sun at this part of the orbit. Similarly, the June solstice is summer in the Northern Hemisphere due to higher solar intensity, even though the Earth is further from the sun at this part of the orbit.

The Hadley Cell process illustrated in Figure 2.3.4 is centered where the sun’s energy is most intense, termed the thermal equator. The geographic equator (0° latitude) does not move; however, the tilt of the Earth’s axis and the Earth’s orbit around the sun mean that the thermal equator is sometimes at the geographic equator and sometimes north or south of it. The movement of the thermal equator follows a predictable pattern that is linked with the seasons, solstices, and equinoxes described above. Each December solstice, the thermal equator is at its southern extreme. After the December solstice, the thermal equator begins moving north. It crosses the equator around the September equinox and continues moving north, reaching its northern extreme on the June solstice. After the June solstice, it begins moving south, crossing the equator during the March equinox and again reaching its southern extreme at the December solstice. Note that Figure 2.3.6 is not to scale and that the movement of the thermal equator is not as extreme as the figure implies.

The rainfall produced by the Hadley Cell air masses as they rise, expand, and cool produces a band of rainclouds, termed the Inter-Tropical Convergence Zone (ITCZ). The ITCZ follows the thermal equator as it moves north and south throughout the year (Fig 2.3.8); however, since the ITCZ is in the upper atmosphere, it is also influenced by air currents and so does not always form a straight or solid band, and may even split into two bands in some seasons or in some areas.

Figure (PageIndex{7}): The location of the Inter-Tropical Convergence Zone (ITCZ) in July and January. Image from Wikimedia Commons3.

All the concepts discussed in this section are linked. The spherical shape of the Earth produces differences in solar intensity, and the maximum solar intensity occurs at the thermal equator. The center of the Hadley Cell is linked to the thermal equator, and the rising air masses at the center of the Hadley Cell form the ITCZ cloud bands, which are also then located roughly over the thermal equator (with some variation due to atmospheric currents). The operation of the Hadley Cell drives regions of intense rainfall at the center of the Cell, over the thermal equator, and regions of intense dryness at 30° N and 30° S latitude. The tilt of the Earth’s axis and the orbit of the Earth around the sun cause the thermal equator (and therefore the center of the Hadley Cell and the ITCZ) to move north and south throughout the year, reaching its northern extreme during the June solstice and southern extreme at the December solstice, and being near the geographic equator (0° latitude) at the September and March equinoxes.

The global patterns of temperature (Fig 2.3.3) and precipitation (Fig 2.3.5) correlate to global patterns of biodiversity (Fig 2.3.9). Regions near the equator (which have high temperature and high precipitation) tend to have higher levels of diversity, while regions at higher latitudes (nearer to the poles) have overall lower diversity. This pattern is termed the latitudinal diversity gradient, and has been documented in many organismal groups, both terrestrial and aquatic. This gradient is discussed in more detail in the chapter on biomes.

Figure (PageIndex{8}): Global patterns of terrestrial vertebrate diversity. Image from Wikimedia Commons4.

Factors that Influence Climate

Elevation or Altitude effect climate
Normally, climatic conditions become colder as altitude increases. “Life zones” on a high mountain reflect the changes, plants at the base are the same as those in surrounding countryside, but no trees at all can grow above the timberline. Snow crowns the highest elevations.

Prevailing global wind patterns
There are 3 major wind patterns found in the Northern Hemisphere and also 3 in the Southern Hemisphere. These are average conditions and do not essentially reveal conditions on a particular day. As seasons change, the wind patterns shift north or south. So does the intertropical convergence zone, which moves back and forth across the Equator. Sailors called this zone the doldrums because its winds are normally weak.

Latitude and angles of the suns rays. As the Earth circles the sun, the tilt of its axis causes changes in the angle of which sun’s rays contact the earth and hence changes the daylight hours at different latitudes. Polar regions experience the greatest variation, with long periods of limited or no sunlight in winter and up to 24 hours of daylight in the summer.

The Topography of an area can greatly influence our climate. Mountain ranges are natural barriers to air movement. In California, winds off the Pacific ocean carry moisture-laden air toward the coast. The Coastal Range allows for some condensation and light precipitation. Inland, the taller Sierra Nevada range rings more significant precipitation in the air. On the western slopes of the Sierra Nevada, sinking air warms from compression, clouds evaporate, and dry conditions prevail.

Effects of Geography
The position of a town, city or place and its distance from mountains and substantial areas of water help determine its prevailing wind patterns and what types of air masses affect it. Coastal areas may enjoy refreshing breezes in summer, when cooler ocean air moves ashore. Places south and east of the Great Lakes can expect “lake effect” snow in winter, when cold air travels over relatively warmer waters.

In spring and summer, people in Tornado Alley in the central United States watch for thunderstorms, these storms are caused where three types of air masses frequently converge: cold and dry from the north, warm and dry from the southwest, and warm and moist from the Gulf of Mexico - these colliding air masses often generate tornado storms.

Surface of the Earth
Just look at any globe or a world map showing land cover, and you will see another important factor which has a influence on climate: the surface of the Earth. The amount of sunlight that is absorbed or reflected by the surface determines how much atmospheric heating occurs. Darker areas, such as heavily vegetated regions, tend to be good absorbers lighter areas, such as snow and ice-covered regions, tend to be good reflectors. The ocean absorbs and loses heat more slowly than land. Its waters gradually release heat into the atmosphere, which then distributes heat around the globe.

Climate change over time
Cold and warm periods punctuate Earth’s long history. Some were fairly short others spanned hundreds of thousands of years. In some cold periods, glaciers grew and spread over large regions. In subsequent warm periods, the ice retreated. Each period profoundly affected plant and animal life. The most recent cool period, often called the “Little Ice Age,” ended in western Europe around 1850.

Since the turn of the 20th century, temperatures have been rising steadily throughout the world. But it is not yet clear how much of this global warming is due to natural causes and how much derives from human activities, such as the burning of fossil fuels and the clearing of forests.

Impacts of climate change on marine organisms and ecosystems

Human activities are releasing gigatonnes of carbon to the Earth's atmosphere annually. Direct consequences of cumulative post-industrial emissions include increasing global temperature, perturbed regional weather patterns, rising sea levels, acidifying oceans, changed nutrient loads and altered ocean circulation. These and other physical consequences are affecting marine biological processes from genes to ecosystems, over scales from rock pools to ocean basins, impacting ecosystem services and threatening human food security. The rates of physical change are unprecedented in some cases. Biological change is likely to be commensurately quick, although the resistance and resilience of organisms and ecosystems is highly variable. Biological changes founded in physiological response manifest as species range-changes, invasions and extinctions, and ecosystem regime shifts. Given the essential roles that oceans play in planetary function and provision of human sustenance, the grand challenge is to intervene before more tipping points are passed and marine ecosystems follow less-buffered terrestrial systems further down a spiral of decline. Although ocean bioengineering may alleviate change, this is not without risk. The principal brake to climate change remains reduced CO(2) emissions that marine scientists and custodians of the marine environment can lobby for and contribute to. This review describes present-day climate change, setting it in context with historical change, considers consequences of climate change for marine biological processes now and in to the future, and discusses contributions that marine systems could play in mitigating the impacts of global climate change.

Influences of extreme weather, climate and pesticide use on invertebrates in cereal fields over 42 years

Cereal fields are central to balancing food production and environmental health in the face of climate change. Within them, invertebrates provide key ecosystem services. Using 42 years of monitoring data collected in southern England, we investigated the sensitivity and resilience of invertebrates in cereal fields to extreme weather events and examined the effect of long-term changes in temperature, rainfall and pesticide use on invertebrate abundance. Of the 26 invertebrate groups examined, eleven proved sensitive to extreme weather events. Average abundance increased in hot/dry years and decreased in cold/wet years for Araneae, Cicadellidae, adult Heteroptera, Thysanoptera, Braconidae, Enicmus and Lathridiidae. The average abundance of Delphacidae, Cryptophagidae and Mycetophilidae increased in both hot/dry and cold/wet years relative to other years. The abundance of all 10 groups usually returned to their long-term trend within a year after the extreme event. For five of them, sensitivity to cold/wet events was lowest (translating into higher abundances) at locations with a westerly aspect. Some long-term trends in invertebrate abundance correlated with temperature and rainfall, indicating that climate change may affect them. However, pesticide use was more important in explaining the trends, suggesting that reduced pesticide use would mitigate the effects of climate change.

Filename Description
gcb13026-sup-0001-FigS1.pdfPDF document, 482.9 KB Figure S1. (a) Spectral density curves (logarithms) vs. frequency (year −1 ) for temperature and invertebrate abundance. (b) Spectral density curves (logarithms) vs. frequency (year −1 ) for rainfall and invertebrate abundance.
gcb13026-sup-0002-FigS2.pdfPDF document, 793.4 KB Figure S2. (a–c) Coherence and phase spectra for temperature paired with invertebrate abundance.
gcb13026-sup-0003-FigS3.pdfPDF document, 805.3 KB Figure S3. (a–c) Coherence and phase spectra for rainfall paired with invertebrate abundance.

Please note: The publisher is not responsible for the content or functionality of any supporting information supplied by the authors. Any queries (other than missing content) should be directed to the corresponding author for the article.

A Degree of Concern: Why Global Temperatures Matter

If you could ask a sea turtle why small increases in global average temperature matter, you&rsquod be likely to get a mouthful. Of sea grass, that is.

Of course, sea turtles can&rsquot talk, except in certain animated movies. And while on-screen they&rsquore portrayed as happy-go-lucky creatures, in reality it&rsquos pretty tough to be a sea turtle, dude (consider the facts), and in a warming world, it&rsquos getting tougher.

Since the temperature of the beach sand that female sea turtles nest in influences the gender of their offspring during incubation, our warming climate may be driving sea turtles into extinction by creating a shortage of males, according to several studies. 1

A few degrees make a huge difference. At sand temperatures of 31.1 degrees Celsius (88 degrees Fahrenheit), only female green sea turtles hatch, while at 27.8 degrees Celsius (82 degrees Fahrenheit) and below, only males hatch.

While the plight of sea turtles is illustrative, it&rsquos a fact that all natural and human systems are sensitive to climate warming in varying degrees. To assess the likely impacts of global warming on our planet at various temperature thresholds above pre-industrial levels (considered to be the time period between 1850 and 1900), the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) in October released a Special Report on Global Warming of 1.5 Degrees Celsius (2.7 Degrees Fahrenheit). The IPCC is the United Nations body tasked with assessing the science related to climate change.

The report examined the impacts of limiting the increase in global average temperature to well below 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit) above pre-industrial levels, and projected the impacts Earth is expected to see at both 1.5 degrees and 2 degrees Celsius warming above those levels. The 1.5-degree Celsius threshold represents the target goal established by the Paris Agreement, adopted by 195 nations in December 2015 to address the threat of climate change.

The following interactive presents selected highlights from the report:

The report, prepared by 91 authors and review editors from 40 countries along with 133 contributing authors, cites more than 6,000 scientific references and includes contributions from thousands of expert reviewers around the world, including from NASA. NASA data were critical to enabling understanding of how each half degree of warming will impact our planet. NASA models contributed to the report&rsquos projections, while NASA satellite and airborne observations provided critical inputs.

&ldquoUnfortunately, warming has progressed so much that we now have observations of what happens when you have an extra half a degree,&rdquo said Drew Shindell, professor of Climate Sciences at the Nicholas School of the Environment at Duke University in Durham, North Carolina. Shindell is a coordinating lead author of one chapter of the Special Report and an author of its Summary for Policy Makers. &ldquoHaving an extra five to 10 years since the last IPCC Assessment, along with modern monitoring systems, many of which are from NASA, really lets us see what happens to the planet with an extra half a degree of warming much more clearly than in the past.&rdquo

The report says that since the pre-industrial period, human activities are estimated to have increased Earth&rsquos global average temperature by about 1 degree Celsius (1.8 degrees Fahrenheit), a number that is currently increasing by 0.2 degrees Celsius (0.36 degrees Fahrenheit) every decade. At that rate, global warming is likely to reach 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels sometime between 2030 and 2052, with a best estimate of around 2040.

Warming that&rsquos already been introduced into the Earth system by human-produced emissions since the start of the pre-industrial period isn&rsquot expected to dissipate for hundreds to thousands of years. That already &ldquobaked in&rdquo warming will continue to cause further long-term changes in our climate, such as sea level rise and its associated impacts. However, the report says that these past emissions alone are not considered likely, by themselves, to cause Earth to warm by 1.5 degrees Celsius. In other words, what we as a society do now matters. The urgency with which the world addresses greenhouse gas emission reductions now will help determine the degree of future warming in essence, whether we&rsquoll be hit by a climate change hardball or a wiffle ball.

You might be thinking, &ldquoWhy should I care if temperatures go up another half a degree or one degree? Temperatures go up and down all the time. What difference does it make?&rdquo

The answer is, a lot. Higher temperature thresholds will adversely impact increasingly larger percentages of life on Earth, with significant variations by region, ecosystem and species. For some species, it literally means life or death.

&ldquoWhat we see isn&rsquot good &ndash impacts of climate change are in many cases larger in response to a half a degree (of warming) than we&rsquod expected,&rdquo said Shindell, who was formerly a research scientist at NASA&rsquos Goddard Institute for Space Studies in New York City. &ldquoWe see faster acceleration of ice melting, greater increases in tropical storm damages, stronger effects on droughts and flooding, etc. As we calibrate our models to capture the observed responses or even simply extrapolate another half a degree, we see that it&rsquos more important than we&rsquod previously thought to avoid the extra warming between 1.5 and 2 degrees Celsius.&rdquo

Shindell said the report was able to use scientists&rsquo understanding from observations to assess how many more people would be at risk from the impacts of climate change with an additional half a degree of warming. &ldquoIt&rsquos hundreds of millions,&rdquo he said, &ldquowhich makes clear the importance of keeping warming as low as possible.&rdquo

NASA&rsquos global climate change website, and its vital signs section, document what a 1-degree Celsius temperature increase has already done to our planet. The impacts of global warming are being felt everywhere, from rising sea levels to more extreme weather, more frequent wildfires, and heatwaves and increased drought, to name a few. Because our society has been built around the climate Earth has had for the past approximately 10,000 years, when it changes noticeably, as it has done in recent decades, people begin to take notice. Today, most people realize Earth&rsquos climate is changing. A December 2018 report by Yale and George Mason Universities found that seven in 10 Americans think global warming is happening, with about six in 10 saying it is mostly caused by humans.

We live in a world bound by the laws of physics. For example, at temperatures above 0 degrees Celsius (32 degrees Fahrenheit), ice, including Earth&rsquos polar ice sheets and other land ice, begins to melt and changes from a solid to a liquid. When that water flows downward into the ocean, it raises global sea level.

Similarly, temperature plays a critical role in biology. We all know the average temperature of a healthy adult human is about 37 degrees Celsius (98.6 degrees Fahrenheit). You don&rsquot have to ask anyone running a fever of 38.3 degrees Celsius (101 degrees Fahrenheit) if a couple of degrees matters. Our bodies are optimized to run at a certain temperature. According to most studies, humans feel most comfortable, are most productive and function best when the ambient temperature around us is roughly 22 degrees Celsius (71.6 degrees Fahrenheit). Vary that temperature by more than a few degrees in either direction and we seek to warm or cool ourselves if we can. Our bodies also make adjustments, such as sweating.

When ambient temperatures become too extreme, the impacts on human health can be profound, even deadly.

Plants and other animals have it tougher. While they also adjust to their external temperature environment through various mechanisms, they can&rsquot just turn on an air conditioner or furnace like we can, and they may not be able to migrate. They survive within specific, defined habitats.

For all living organisms, the faster climate changes, the more difficult it is to adapt to it. When climate change is too rapid, it can lead to species extinction. As greenhouse gas concentrations continue to increase, the cumulative impact will be to accelerate temperature change. Limiting warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius decreases the risks of long-lasting or irreversible changes, such as the loss of certain ecosystems, and allows people and ecosystems to better adapt.

So just how may another half- or full-degree Celsius of warming affect our planet? In part two of our feature, we look at some of the IPCC special report&rsquos specific projections.

Impact of Global Warming on Climate and Living Organisms

Some of the major impact of global warming on climate and living organisms are as follows:

(A) Climate Change (B) Climate Change and Plant Communities (C) Effect on Sea Levels (D) Reduction of Biodiversity (E) Effect on Agriculture (F) Effect on Arctic Ecosystems (G) Overall Effect.

(A) Climate Change:

It is believed that increased levels of greenhouse gases that cause global warming, have affected the global climate already and these effects will increase in future. According to IPCC (1996), the world climate has warmed from 0.3 to 0.6°C during the last century. Complex computer models of global climate predict that temperatures will increase further by 1°C to 3.5°C over the next century as a result of increased concentrations of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases.

The increase in temperature will be greatest at high latitudes and over large continents (Myneni et al, 1997). However, some scientists also predict an increase in extreme weather events such as flooding, regional drought and hurricanes associated with this warming (Karl et al. 1997). It seems likely that many species will be unable to adjust quickly to global warming and associated climate change.

As a result, biological communities may suffer profoundly. More than 10% of plant species in many temperate parts wall not be able to survive the new climatic conditions, they must migrate northward or die. This change has already been observed with alpine plants found growing higher on mountains and migratory birds spending longer times on their summer breeding grounds.

However, the effects of global climate change on rainfall and temperature are expected to be less drastic in the tropics than in the temperate zones. But even small changes in the amount and timing of rainfall will effect species composition and plant reproduction cycles. Changes in temperature and global climate can be expected to influence the biogeochemical cycles, which have already been perturbed by anthropogenic disturbances.

(B) Climate Change and Plant Communities:

Climatic changes as a result of global warming will naturally affect the biotic communities on this earth. Some plant species may utilize the increased CO2 concentrations and high temperature to increase their growth rates, but less adaptable species will decrease in abundance. Such unpredictable fluctuations in plant communities and associated herbivorous insect species could lead to the extinction of many rare species and great population increases in some other species.

As a result, the global climate change may restructure biological communities and change the distributional ranges of many animal and plant species. Some species may be in danger of going extinct in the wild and therefore new conservation strategies including captive breeding, will have to be adopted.

(C) Effect on Sea Levels:

Rising temperatures will cause glaciers to melt and the polar ice caps to shrink. As a result of this, sea levels may rise by 0.2 to 1.5 m and flood low lying coastal areas and their biotic communities. There is evidence that this process has already started. Sea levels have already risen by 10 to 25 cm over the last 100 years, possibly due to rising global temperatures (IPCC, 1996). If the trend continues, many low lying areas may be submerged in near future.

It is possible that rising sea levels may significantly change or destroy 20% -80% of the coastal wetlands. In tropical areas, mangroves will be adversely affected as seawater will be too deep in existing mangrove areas to allow the seedlings to develop. Rising sea levels are detrimental to coral reef species, which grow at a precise depth with optimum temperature and water movement.

It is possible that slow growing coral reefs will be unable to keep pace with the rise in sea level and will be gradually submerged and die and only fast growing coral reef species will be able to survive. This threat to coral reefs may be further compounded by increasing seawater temperatures. Abnormally high water temperatures in the Pacific Ocean during 1982 and 1983 caused the death of symbiotic algae that live inside the coral. Subsequently, the “bleached” coral suffered a massive dieback of 70%-95% coral cover of die area to depths of 18m (Brown and Ogden, 1993).

(D) Reduction of Biodiversity:

As mentioned above increased temperatures, inundation of some coastal biological communities and changes in the pattern of distribution of many species over a long period of time are likely to cause reduction in biodiversity in aquatic and terrestrial ecosystems.

(E) Effect on Agriculture:

The global climate change may have important effects on agriculture (Rosenweig and Parry, 1994). However, the effects of this change will vary for C3 (e.g., wheat, rice, beans) and C2 (e.g., maize, millet, sugarcane) plants. As temperatures increase with rising levels of CO2, some crop plants may no longer be grown in certain regions. According to Ricklefs and Miller (2000), under the most common models of global climate change, global temperature increases will have negative effects on both C2 and C4 plants unless the higher levels of CO2 in the atmosphere increase plant growth.

(F) Effect on Arctic Ecosystems:

Global climate change will have profound effects on arctic ecosystems. Studies on the response of arctic Tundra to elevated CO2 indicated that the Tundra is more sensitive to global climate change than most other ecosystems on earth. According to Shaver et. al (1992), warmer temperatures may increase primary production, thereby increasing carbon input and soil respiration, thereby increasing carbon output. The extent to which production may be increased is constrained by the availability of nitrogen.

(G) Overall Effect:

The overall effect of global warming on world climate has many dimensions, some of which are discussed above. The natural greenhouse maintains the earth’s temperatures within the limits for physiological functions. But studies suggest that even a moderate increase in the average global temperature could result in significant changes in biotic communities including reduction in biodiversity both in terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems.

Tropical Storms

Overall, occurrences of Atlantic hurricanes do not show a significant long-term trend over the 20th century, although the number of intense hurricanes, those that cause the most damage, has declined from 1944 to the mid-1990s (33, 34). Furthermore, large variations of hurricane activity on interdecadal time scales have been observed during the 20th century (35). Because most coastal settlement occurred in a period of relatively low hurricane landfall frequency, the potential societal impacts of hurricane landfall in more active decades have yet to be fully realized (36).

Recent work documenting the contribution of hurricanes to extreme rainfall events shows that each individual event doubles the monthly rainfall being measured in that month in the mid-Atlantic and New England regions of the United States (37). For the 67-year period studied, eastern Massachusetts and much of the Appalachians experience such extreme rainfall events on average every 5 to 6 years, and the return period drops to 2 to 4 years when hurricane rainfall contributions result in monthly rainfall anomalies of 150% above average.

In the North Pacific basin a positive trend has been observed both in tropical storm activity and typhoons since the mid-1970s (38). Before the mid-1970s, tropical storm activity in the western North Pacific region had been dropping, demonstrating a nonlinear longer term variation in tropical storm frequency in this most active region of the globe. Since 1969 a strong downward trend in tropical storm frequency has been observed in the Australian region, south of the equator (105°E to 160°E), which has been attributed largely to variations in the El Niño–Southern Oscillation (39).


Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Introduction: The Arctic Environment

The circumpolar region is defined as the region that extends above 60°N latitude, borders the Arctic Ocean, and includes all of or the northern parts of eight nations: the United States (Alaska), Canada, Greenland, Iceland, Norway, Finland, Sweden, and the Russian Federation (see Figure 2-20). The climate in the Arctic varies geographically from severe cold in arid uninhabited regions to temperate forests bordering coastal agrarian regions. Approximately 4 million people live in the Arctic and almost half reside in northern regions of the Russian Federation. Peoples of the Arctic and sub-Arctic regions live in social and physical environments that differ substantially from those of their more southern dwelling counterparts. These populations are comprised of varying proportions of indigenous and nonindigenous peoples (Stephansson Arctic Institute, 2004 see Figure 2-21).


The circumpolar region showing administrative jurisdictions. SOURCE: Map by W. K. Dallmann. Reprinted from Young (2008) with permission from W. K. Dallmann and the International Journal of Circumpolar (more. )


The circumpolar region showing indigenous and nonindigenous population distributions. SOURCE: Reprinted from Stefansson Arctic Institute (2004) with permission from W. K. Dallmann, (more. )

The indigenous populations of northern Canada (Northwest Territories, Yukon, Nunavut, northern Quebec, and Labrador), Alaska, and Greenland generally reside in small communities in remote regions. They have little economic infrastructure and depend on subsistence hunting, fishing, and gathering of food for a significant proportion of their diet. In these remote areas, access to public health and acute care systems is often marginal and poorly supported. Life expectancy of the indigenous peoples of Alaska, northern Canada, and Greenland is lower than that of the general populations of the United States, Canada, and Nordic countries (Young, 2008). Similarly the infant morality rate for the indigenous segments of these populations is higher than that of the comparable national populations. Mortality rates for heart disease and cancer, once much lower among the indigenous populations of the United States, Canada, and northern European countries, are now similar to their respective national rates. The indigenous populations of Alaska, Canada, and Greenland have higher mortality rates for unintentional injury and suicide. Other health concerns of the indigenous peoples of the Arctic include the high prevalence of certain infectious diseases, such as hepatitis B, Helicobacter pylori, respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) infections in infants, and sexually transmitted diseases, as well as heath impacts associated with exposures to environmental pollutants, rapid economic change and modernization, and climate change (Bjerregaard et al., 2004).

Climate Change and the Arctic Environment

The Arctic, like most other parts of the world, warmed substantially over the twentieth century, principally in recent decades. Arctic climate models project continued warming with a 3𠄵ଌ mean increase by 2100. The winters will warm more than summers, the mean annual precipitation is projected to increase, and continued melting of land and sea ice is expected to increase river discharge and contribute to rising sea levels. These changes will be accompanied by greater overall climate variability and an increase in extreme weather events (Arctic Council, 2005).

The rapid warming in the Arctic is already bringing about substantial ecological and socioeconomic impacts, many of which result from the thawing of permafrost, flooding, and shoreline erosion resulting from storm surges and loss of protective sea ice. In many communities, the built infrastructure is supported by permafrost. Loss of this permafrost foundation will result in damage to water intake systems and pipes, and may result in contamination of the community water supply. In addition, loss of foundation support for access roads, boardwalks, water storage tanks, and wastewater treatment facilities will render water distribution and wastewater treatment systems inoperable. Several villages already face relocation because village housing, water system, and infrastructure are being undermined (Warren et al., 2005).

Rapid warming has resulted in the loss of annual Arctic sea ice. On September 11, 2007, the Arctic sea ice cover reached the lowest extent recorded since observations began in the 1970s, exceeding the most pessimistic model predictions of an ice-free Arctic by 2050 (Richter-Menge et al., 2008 Figure 2-22). This dramatic reduction in sea ice will have widespread effects on marine ecosystems, coastal climate, human settlements, and subsistence activities. For the first time the reduction in annual sea ice has created ice-free shipping lanes to the northwest, from northern Labrador through the Arctic archipelago in northern Canada, to the Bering Strait, and has almost completely cleared a passage to the northeast, from the Bering Strait along the northern coast of the Russian Federation to Norway (see Figure 2-23). Both routes represent time- and fuel-saving shortcuts between the Pacific and Atlantic Oceans and will bring an increase in marine transport and access to vast oil, gas, and mineral reserves once inaccessible to exploration and exploitation.


The Arctic ice cap, September 2001 (Top) and September 2007 (Bottom). SOURCE: NASA, as printed in Borgerson (2008).


Proposed northwest and northeast shipping lanes through the Arctic Ocean joining the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans. SOURCE: Map by C. Grabhorn Reprinted from ACIA (2004) with permission from Cambridge (more. )

Such access will bring many benefits as well as risks to once isolated Arctic communities. Construction of new coast guard or military bases and other industrial ventures will bring employment opportunities to local populations, but will also affect population distribution, dynamics, culture, and local environments. Tourism will most likely increase. Public sector and government services will then increase to support the new emerging economies. These events will greatly challenge the traditional subsistence way of life for many communities and lead to rapid and long-term cultural change, which will create additional stress on an already vulnerable population (Curtis et al., 2005).

Climate Change and Human Health

The direct health effects of climate change will result from changes in ambient temperature, altered patterns of risk from outdoor activities, and changes in the incidence of infectious diseases. As ambient temperature increases, the incidence of hypothermia and associated morbidity and mortality may decrease. Conversely hyperthermia may increase, particularly among the very young and the elderly (Nayha, 2005). However, because of the low mean temperature in many Arctic regions, the likelihood of such events having large impacts on public health for the general population is low. More significantly, unintentional injury, mostly related to subsistence hunting and fishing𠅊lready a significant cause of mortality among Arctic residents—may increase (Arctic Council, 2005). The reduction in river and sea ice thickness, curtailed ice season, reduced snow cover, and permafrost thawing will make hunting and gathering more difficult, dangerous, and less successful, thereby increasing the risk of injuries and death by drowning.

Permafrost thawing erosion or flooding can force relocation. Communities and families undergoing relocation will have to adapt to new ways of living, may face unemployment, and will have to integrate and create new social bonds. Relocation may also lead to rapid and long-term cultural change and loss of traditional culture, which will increase individual and community stress, leading to mental and behavioral health challenges (Hess et al., in press).

Climate change already poses a serious threat to the food security of many Arctic communities because of their reliance on traditional subsistence hunting and fishing for survival. Populations of marine and land mammals, fish, and waterfowl may be reduced or displaced by changing habitats and migration patterns, further reducing the traditional food supply. Release of environmental contaminants from the atmosphere and melting glaciers and sea ice may increase the levels of these pollutants entering the food chain, making traditional foods less desirable (AMAP, 2003). Reduction in traditional food supply will force indigenous communities to depend increasingly on nontraditional and often less healthy Western foods. This will most likely result in increasing rates of modern diseases associated with processed foods, such as obesity, diabetes, cardiovascular diseases, and outbreaks of food-borne infectious diseases associated with imported fresh and processed foods (Bjerregaard et al., 2004 Orr et al., 1994).

Many host-parasite systems are particularly sensitive to climate change. Specific stages of the life cycles of many helminths may be greatly affected by temperature. For example, small increases in temperature can substantially increase the transmission of lung worms and muscle worms pathogenic to wildlife that are important as a food source for many northern communities (Hoberg et al., 2008).

Climate Change and Infectious Diseases in the Arctic

It is well known that climate and weather affect the distribution and risk of many vector-borne diseases, such as malaria, RVF, plague, and dengue fever in tropical regions of the globe. Weather also affects the distribution of food- and water-borne diseases and emerging infectious diseases, such as West Nile virus, hantavirus, and Ebola hemorrhagic fever (Haines et al., 2006). Less is known about the impact of climate change and the risk and distribution of infectious diseases in Arctic regions. It is known that Arctic populations have a long history of both endemic and epidemic infectious diseases (Parkinson et al., 2008). However, with the introduction of antimicrobial drugs, vaccines, and public health systems, morbidity and mortality due to infectious diseases have been greatly reduced. Despite these advances, high rates of invasive diseases caused by Streptococcus pneumoniae, Haemophilus influenzae, and Mycobacterium tuberculosis persist (Bruce et al., 2008a,b Christensen et al., 2004 Dawar et al., 2002 Degani et al., 2008 Gessner et al., 1998 Meyer et al., 2008 Netesov and Conrad, 2001 Nguyen et al., 2003 Singleton et al., 2006 Sྋorg et al., 2001). Sharp seasonal epidemics of viral respiratory infections also commonly occur (Bulkow et al., 2002 Karron et al., 1999 Van Caeseele et al., 2001). The overuse of antimicrobial drugs in some regions has led to the emergence of multidrug-resistant S. pneumoniae, Helicobacter pylori, and methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (Baggett et al., 2003, 2004 McMahon et al., 2007 Rudolph et al., 1999, 2000).

The impact of climate on the incidence of these existing infectious disease challenges is unknown. In many Arctic regions, however, inadequate housing and sanitation are already important determinants of infectious disease transmission. The cold northern climate keeps people indoors amplifying the effects of household crowding, smoking, and inadequate ventilation. Crowded living conditions increase person-to-person spread of infectious diseases and favor the transmission of respiratory and gastrointestinal diseases and skin infections. Many homes in communities across the Arctic lack basic sanitation services (e.g., flush toilet, shower or bath, kitchen sink). Providing these services is difficult in remote villages where small isolated populations live in a harsh cold climate. A recent study in western Alaska demonstrated two to four times higher hospitalization rates among children less than 3 years of age for pneumonia, influenza, and childhood RSV infections in villages where the majority of homes had no in-house piped water, compared with villages where the majority of homes had in-house piped water service. Likewise, outpatient Staphylococcus aureus infections and hospitalization for skin infections among persons of all ages were higher in villages with no in-house piped water service compared to villages without water service (Hennessy et al., 2008). Damage to the sanitation infrastructure by melting permafrost or flooding may therefore result in increased rates of hospitalization among children for respiratory infections, as well as an increased rate of skin infections and diarrheal diseases caused by bacterial, viral, and parasitic pathogens.

Some infectious diseases are unique to the Arctic and lifestyles of the indigenous populations and may increase in a warming Arctic. For example, many Arctic residents depend on subsistence hunting, fishing, and gathering for food, and on a predictable climate for food storage. Food storage methods often include above ground air-drying of fish and meat at ambient temperature, below ground cold storage on or near the permafrost, and fermentation. Changes in climate may prevent the drying of fish or meat, resulting in spoilage. Similarly, loss of the permafrost may result in spoilage of food stored below ground. Outbreaks of food-borne botulism occur sporadically in communities in the United States, Canadian Arctic, and Greenland and are caused by ingestion of improperly prepared fermented traditional foods (CDC, 2001 Proulx et al., 1997 Sobel et al., 2004 Sørensen et al., 1993 Wainwright et al., 1988). Because germination of Clostridium botulinum spores and toxin production will occur at temperatures greater than 4ଌ, it is possible that warmer ambient temperatures associated with climate change may result in an increased rate of food-borne botulism in these regions. Preliminary studies have shown that fermentation of aged seal meat challenged with C. botulinum at temperatures above 4ଌ results in toxin production (Leclair et al., 2004).

Outbreaks of gastroenteritis caused by Vibrio parahaemolyticus have been related to the consumption of raw or inadequately cooked shellfish collected from seawater at temperatures of higher than 15ଌ. Prior to 2004, the most northerly outbreak occurred in northern British Columbia in 1997. However, in July 2004, an outbreak of gastroenteritis caused by V. parahaemolyticus was documented among cruise ship passengers consuming raw oysters while visiting an oyster farm in Prince William Sound, Alaska (McLaughlin et al., 2005). The outbreak investigation documented an increase of 0.21ଌ per year in the July𠄺ugust water temperature since 1997, and reported that 2004 was the first year that the oyster farm water temperature exceeded 15ଌ in July. This event provides direct evidence of an association between rising seawater temperature and the onset of illness.

Warmer temperatures may allow infected host animal species to survive winters in larger numbers, increase in population, and expand their range of habitation, thus increasing the opportunity to pass infections to humans. For example, milder weather and less snow cover may have contributed to a large outbreak of Puumala virus infection in northern Sweden in 2007. Puumala virus is endemic in bank voles, and in humans causes hemorrhagic fever with renal syndrome (Pettersson et al., 2008). Similar outbreaks have been noted in the Russian Federation (Revich, 2008). The climate-related northern expansion of the boreal forest in Alaska and northern Canada has favored the steady northward advance of the beaver, extending the range of Giardia lamblia, a parasitic infection of beaver that can infect other mammals, including humans who use untreated surface water (Arctic Council, 2005). Similarly, warmer temperatures in the Arctic and sub-Arctic regions could support the expansion of the geographical range and populations of foxes and voles, common carriers of Echinococcus multilocularis, the cause of alveolar echinococcus in humans (Holts et al., 2005). The prevalence of alveolar echinococcus has risen in Switzerland as fox populations have increased in size and expanded their geographic ranges into urban areas (Schweiger et al., 2007). Alveolar echinococcus was common in two regions of northwestern Alaska prior to 1997. Disease in humans was associated with contact with dogs however, improvements in housing and dog lot management have largely eliminated dog-to-human transmission in Alaska. This may not be the case, however, in other parts of the Arctic where human infections with Echinococcus granulosis, and E. multilocularis are still reported, particularly in association with communities dependent on reindeer herding and dog use (Castrodale et al., 2002 Rausch, 2003).

Climate change may also influence the density and distribution of animal hosts and mosquito vectors, which could result in an increase in human illness or a shift in the geographical range of disease caused by these agents. The impact of these changes on human disease incidence has not been fully evaluated, but there is clearly potential for climate change to shift the geographical distribution of certain vector-borne and other zoonotic diseases. For example, West Nile virus entered the United States in 1999 and in subsequent years infected human, horse, mosquito, and bird populations across the United States and as far north as northern Manitoba, Canada (Parkinson and Butler, 2005). In the Russian Federation infected birds and humans have been detected as far north as the region of Novosibirsk (Revich, 2008). Although there is, at present, insufficient information about the relationship between climate and the spread of West Nile virus, a number of factors may contribute to its further northward migration. Milder winters could favor winter survival of infected Culex spp. mosquitoes, the predominant vector of West Nile virus, which since the 1970s have migrated as far north as Prince Albert, Saskatchewan in Canada. Longer, hotter summers increase the transmission season leading to higher numbers of infected mosquitoes and greater opportunities for human exposure. Climate change may alter the disease ecology and migration patterns of other reservoirs such as birds. These factors may affect disease incidence and result in expansion of the range of other arthropod vector-borne diseases.

A number of mosquito-borne viruses that cause illness in humans circulate in the U.S. Arctic and northern regions of the Russian Federation (Walters et al., 1999). Jamestown Canyon and Snowshoe Hare viruses are considered emerging threats to the public health in the United States, Canada, and the Russian Federation, causing flu-like symptoms and central nervous system diseases, such as aseptic meningitis and encephalitis (Walters et al., 1999). Sindbis virus also circulates in northern Europe. The virus is carried northward and amplified by migratory birds. In the late summer, ornithophilic mosquitoes pass the virus onto humans causing epidemics of Pogosta disease in northern Finland, an illness characterized by a rash and arthritis (Kurkela et al., 2008). In Sweden, the incidence of tick-borne encephalitis (TBE) has substantially increased since the mid-1980s (Lindgren and Gustafson, 2001). This increase corresponds to a trend of milder winters and an earlier onset of spring, resulting in an increase in the tick population (Ixodes ricinus) that carries the virus responsible for TBE and other potential pathogens (Skarphຝinsson et al., 2005). Similarly in northeastern Canada, climate change is projected to result in a northward shift in the range of Ixodes scapularis, a tick that carries Borrelia burgdorferi, the etiologic agent of Lyme disease. The current northern limit of Ix. scapularis is southern Ontario including the shoreline of Lake Erie and southern coast of Nova Scotia. Some temperature-based models show the potential for a northward expansion of Ix. scapularis above 60°N latitude and into the Northwest Territories by 2080 (Ogden et al., 2005). However, it should be noted that tick distribution is influenced by additional factors such as habitat suitability and dispersal patterns which can affect the accuracy of these predictions. Whether or not disease in humans is a result of these climate change-induced alterations in vector range depends on many other factors, such as land-use practices, human behavior (suburban development in wooded areas, outdoor recreational activities, use of insect repellents, etc.), human population density, and adequacy of the public health infrastructure.

Response to Climate Change in the Arctic

In 1992, the IOM published a report titled Emerging Infections: Microbial Threats to Health in the United States. This report uncovered major challenges for public health in the medical community primarily related to detecting and managing infectious disease outbreaks and monitoring the prevalence of endemic infectious diseases. It stimulated a national movement to reinvigorate the U.S. public health system to address the HIV/AIDS epidemic, the emergence of new diseases, the resurgence of old diseases, and the persistent evolution of antimicrobial resistance. In a subsequent report, the IOM provided an assessment of the capacity of the public health system to respond to emerging threats and made recommendations for addressing infectious disease threats to human health (IOM, 2003).

Because climate change is expected to exacerbate many of the factors contributing to infectious disease emergence and reemergence, the recommendations of the 2003 IOM report can be applied to the prevention and control of emerging infectious disease threats resulting from climate change. A framework for public health response to climate change in the United States has recently been proposed (Frumkin et al., 2008 Hess et al., in press). The framework emphasizes the need to capitalize on and enhance existing essential public health services and to improve coordination efforts between government agencies (federal, state, and local), academia, the private sector, and nongovernmental organizations.

Applying this framework to Arctic regions requires enhancing the public health capacity to monitor diseases with potentially large public health impacts, including respiratory diseases in children, skin infections, and diarrheal diseases, particularly in communities with failing sanitation systems. Monitoring certain vector-borne diseases, such as West Nile virus, Lyme disease, and TBE, should be priorities in areas at the margins of focal regions known to support both animal and insect vectors, and where climate change may promote the geographic expansion of vectors. Because Arctic populations are relatively small and widely dispersed over a large area, region-specific detection of significant trends in emerging climate-related infectious diseases may be delayed. This difficulty may be overcome by linking regional monitoring systems together for the purposes of sharing standardized information on climate-sensitive infectious diseases of mutual concern. Efforts should be made to harmonize notifiable disease registries, laboratory methods, and clinical surveillance definitions across administrative jurisdictions to allow comparable disease reporting and analysis. An example of such a network is the International Circumpolar Surveillance system for emerging infectious diseases. This network links hospital and public health laboratories together for the purposes of monitoring invasive bacterial diseases and tuberculosis in Arctic populations (Parkinson et al., 2008).

Public health capacity should be enhanced to respond to infectious disease food-borne outbreaks (e.g., botulism, gastroenteritis caused by Giardia lamblia or Vibro parahaemolyticus). Public health research is needed to determine the baseline prevalence of potential climate-sensitive infectious diseases (e.g., West Nile virus, Borrelia burgdorferi, Brucella spp., Echinococcus spp., Toxoplasma spp.) in both human and animal hosts in regions where emergence may be expected. Such studies can be used to accumulate additional evidence of the effect of climate change or weather on infectious disease emergence, to guide early detection and public health intervention strategies, and to provide science-based support for public health actions on climate change. The circumpolar coordination of research efforts will be important not only to harmonize research protocols, laboratory methods, data collection instruments, and data analysis, but also to maximize the impact of scarce resources and to minimize the impact of research on affected communities. Coordination can be facilitated through existing international cooperatives, such as the Arctic Council, 14 the International Union for Circumpolar Health, 15 and the newly formed International Network of Circumpolar Health Researchers. 16

The challenge in the Arctic, however, will be to ensure sufficient public health capacity to allow the detection of disease outbreaks and monitor infectious disease trends most likely to be influenced by climate. The remoteness of many communities from clinical or public health facilities, and the harsh weather conditions of Arctic regions, often preclude appropriate specimen and epidemiologic data collection during an outbreak investigation, research, or ongoing surveillance activities. Staffing shortages are frequent in many in local clinics and regional hospitals that are already overwhelmed by routine and urgent care priorities, leaving little capacity for existing staff to assist public health personnel in outbreak investigations, research, or maintenance of routine surveillance activities. Additional resources and training may be needed to ensure adequate staffing at these facilities, to address existing gaps between regional clinics and hospitals and public health departments, and to ensure a sufficiently trained staff to address the emerging public health impacts posed by climate change.

A key aspect of the public health response to climate change in Arctic regions will be the formation of community-based partnerships with tribal governments to identify potential threats to the community and develop strategies to address those threats. Communities at greatest risk should be targeted for education, outreach, and assessment of existing or potential health risks, vulnerabilities, and engagement in the design of community-based monitoring and the formulation of intervention strategies. The identification, selection, and monitoring of basic indicators for climate change and community health will be important for any response to climate change at the community level (Furgal, 2005). The selection of site- or village-specific indicators should be guided by local concerns and may include activities such as the surveillance of a key wildlife or insect species in a region where climate changes may contribute to the emergence of new zoonotic diseases or the measurement of weather (i.e., precipitation and temperature), water quality (i.e., turbidity, pathogens), and gastrointestinal illness (i.e., clinic visits) in a community. Linking communities across regions and internationally should facilitate the sharing of standard protocols, data collection instruments, and data for analysis. These linkages will be important for the detection of trends over larger geographic regions, should enhance a community’s ability to detect changes that impact health, and will allow the development of strategies to minimize the negative health impacts of climate change on Arctic residents in the future.


Resident indigenous populations of the Arctic are uniquely vulnerable to climate change because of their close relationship with, and dependence on, the land, sea, and natural resources for their cultural, social, economic, and physical well-being. The increasing mean ambient temperature may lead to an increase in food-borne diseases, such as botulism and gastrointestinal illnesses. An increase in mean temperature may also influence the incidence of zoonotic and arboviral infectious diseases by changing the population density and range of animal hosts and insect vectors. The public health response to these emerging microbial threats should include enhancing the public health capacity to monitor climate-sensitive infectious diseases with potentially large public health impacts the prompt investigation of infectious disease outbreaks that may be related to climate change and research on the relationship between climate and infectious disease emergence to guide early detection and public health interventions. The development of community-based monitoring networks with links to regional and national public health agencies as well as circumpolar health organizations will facilitate method standardization, data-sharing, and the detection of infectious disease trends over a larger geographic area. This capacity is essential for the development of strategies to minimize the negative effects of climate change on the health of Arctic residents in the future.

The fingerprints of global climate change on insect populations

Population dynamics change with climate means, variances, or the interaction.

Discrete generations plus climate change can lead to developmental traps.

Land use change may outweigh effects of climate change on population dynamics.

Models predict population response based on physiological mechanism.

The array of insects studied for effects of climate change must be expanded.

Synthesizing papers from the last two years, I examined generalizations about the fingerprints of climate change on insects’ population dynamics and phenology. Recent work shows that populations can differ in response to changes in climate means and variances. The part of the thermal niche occupied by an insect population, voltinism, plasticity and adaptation to weather perturbations, and interactions with other species can all exacerbate or mitigate responses to climate change. Likewise, land use change or agricultural practices can affect responses to climate change. Nonetheless, our knowledge of effects of climate change is still biased by organism and geographic region, and to some extent by scale of climate parameter.

Activity Details

  • Grade Levels:5 - 12
  • Additional Topics:
  • Time Required: 1hr - 2hrs
  • Next Generation Science Standards (Website)

Develop a model using an example to describe ways the geosphere, biosphere, hydrosphere, and/or atmosphere interact

Analyze geoscience data to make the claim that one change to Earth's surface can create feedbacks that cause changes to other Earth systems

Use a model to describe how variations in the flow of energy into and out of Earth’s systems result in changes in climate

Analyze geoscience data and the results from global climate models to make an evidence-based forecast of the current rate of global or regional climate change and associated future impacts to Earth systems

Ask questions to clarify evidence of the factors that have caused the rise in global temperatures over the past century

Represent real world and mathematical problems by graphing points in the first quadrant of the coordinate plane, and interpret coordinate values of points in the context of the situation.

Make a line plot to display a data set of measurements in fractions of a unit (1/2, 1/4, 1/8). Use operations on fractions for this grade to solve problems involving information presented in line plots. For example, given different measurements of liquid in identical beakers, find the amount of liquid each beaker would contain if the total amount in all the beakers were redistributed equally.

Construct and interpret scatter plots for bivariate measurement data to investigate patterns of association between two quantities. Describe patterns such as clustering, outliers, positive or negative association, linear association, and nonlinear association.

Know that straight lines are widely used to model relationships between two quantitative variables. For scatter plots that suggest a linear association, informally fit a straight line, and informally assess the model fit by judging the closeness of the data points to the line.

Fit a function to the data use functions fitted to data to solve problems in the context of the data. Use given functions or choose a function suggested by the context. Emphasize linear, quadratic, and exponential models.

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