The Face of Climate Change
Today more than one billion people from around the world will take part in Earth Day, an annual event which celebrates our amazing planet and encourages people to take positive actions to protect it.
It is easy to think of climate change as a remote problem but the reality is it is impacting people, places and species all over the world, and the numbers are increasing. The theme of Earth Day 2013 is ‘The Face of Climate Change’, which was chosen to highlight the increasing impacts of climate change on individuals around the world.
This year to mark Earth Day we have selected our own ‘Faces of Climate Change’ in order to raise awareness about some of the many species affected by climate change.
ARKive’s Faces of Climate Change
To mark Earth Day 2013 here at the ARKive office we have selected our own Faces of Climate Change.
The polar bear is dependent on sea ice to hunt, breed and rest but climate change is causing drastic reductions in the extent of ice coverage across the Arctic region. This reduces the polar bear’s access to prey, forcing them to spend more time on land and rely on stored fat reserves.
Climate change is one of the greatest threats to coral reefs. Coral bleaching, a process where corals lose their symbiotic algae due to the stress of being exposed to extreme temperatures, is becoming more frequent as the sea temperatures rise. Bleached coral are unable to obtain enough nutrients so begin to starve. To find out more visit ARKive’s coral reef conservation page.
Climate change could affect the amount of nutrients koalas obtain from eucalyptus, their main food source, as higher carbon dioxide levels reduce the protein levels and increase the amount of tannins in the leaves of eucalyptus.
North Atlantic Right Whale
Increases in sea temperatures and changes in ocean currents is likely to cause the planktonic prey of the North Atlantic right whale to move location or reduce in abundance, having potentially devastating consequences for this already highly endangered species.
The Atlantic salmon’s developmental rate is directly related to water temperature. Therefore it is possible that increasing water temperatures could result in more rapidly developing juveniles entering the ocean before their planktonic food source has reached sufficiently high levels.
Climate change is turning the tundra, the habitat of the Arctic fox, into boreal forest as new plants are beginning to colonise the area. This change in habitat is causing a decline in the Arctic fox’s prey species and allows the red fox, a competitor, to move into the area.
The extinction of the golden toad is thought to have been caused mainly by climate change and the disease chytridiomycosis. Amphibians are sensitive to even small changes in temperature and moisture, with changes in global weather patterns altering breeding behaviour and affecting reproductive success. Find out about what is being done to protect the world’s amphibians with our amphibian conservation topic page
The gender of sea turtle hatchlings is determined by the temperature at which the eggs are incubated in the nest, with cooler temperatures producing more males and warmer temperatures more females. Increasing temperatures, due to climate change, will result in a disproportionate number of females in a given population.
Jemma Pealing, Media Researcher