At COP27, the concerns of rising sea levels and increased global average temperatures took center stage. However, these are not the only repercussions we’ll have to deal with. As the planet heats, it will produce a variety of fascinating new characteristics. Let us look at some of the most unexpected effects of climate change.
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Top 10 Unexpected Effects of Climate Change
1. Dead Desert Bacteria
Under the desert sand, millions of different varieties of bacteria proliferate, creating bio-crusts, thick, durable layers that assist in fending against erosion. Bio-crusts can lessen dust storms, which give desert plants nutrients.
However, even though they have adapted to the challenging desert environment, cold desert bacteria may not be able to withstand the heat brought on by global warming. A change in one type of bacteria might severely affect the expansion of deserts around the planet since bacteria contribute to soil fertility and slow down desertification.
2. Sex-Changing Lizards
Yes, you heard it right. One of the most unexpected effects of climate change is the appearance of sex-changing lizards. Australia is home to the bearded dragon, a reptile. The sex of its embryos is influenced by temperature, just like in several other reptiles. According to Smithsonian Magazine, bearded dragon offspring are more likely to be female when the weather warms.
According to a study, if eggs with male sex chromosomes are housed in a nest at a temperature of 32C or above, they grow into females.
Experts are concerned that if global temperatures increase, the males may become more and more scarce, putting the entire species in danger of extinction. Crocodiles, most turtles, and many fish are also impacted by so-called temperature-dependent sex determination.
3. Tiny Goats
Although increased temperature doesn’t cause male goats to change into females, it does shrink the number of goats living in the Italian Alps. According to Science Daily, the Alpine Chamois Mountain goatlost an average of 25% of its weight during the 1980s.
According to National Geographic, more miniature goats may require less food and spend more time sleeping and, therefore, less time scavenging to prevent overheating. This might influence other biological ecosystems. Since thinner goats are more prone to freeze to death in harsh winters, goat numbers may also vary.
4. Increased Risk of Heart Disease
Another unexpected effect of climate change is the increased risk of heart failure. Heatwaves in France have been associated with weight loss in people with heart failure, indicating that their health is deteriorating.
According to a study published in the European Society of Cardiology journal, ESC Heart Failure, weight loss in people with heart failure can cause hypotension and renal failure, both of which can be deadly.
Due to water medicines called diuretics that they used to detoxify the body in extreme heat, heart failure patients might lose more fluids than healthy persons.
In a study including 1,420 patients with chronic heart failure conducted during two heatwaves in France in July 2019, researchers discovered a “very high” correlation between body weight and temperature.
5. Inferior Wine
Grapes are susceptible to atmospheric variations. If the temperatures aren’t favourable, they might deteriorate or fail to ripen; that is why wine from specific years tastes better and is valued more than others.
Wildfires have previously ravaged vineyards in Spain and the well-known Napa Valley in California. However, their flavour deteriorates even if the grapes withstand the heat. According to a BBC investigation, the quality of the wine depends on three major elements of berries: sugar, acid, and secondary chemicals. Warmer temperatures accelerate ripening, giving grapes a sweet, raisin-like flavour.
Additionally, this might lead to a product with a higher alcohol concentration, which would have a scorching flavour and lessen the depth of the flavours and aromas. It has been estimated that by 2050 there may be a 73 % drop in land suitable for growing wine globally.
6. Coffee Scarcity
According to Bloomberg, Brazil’s farmers, the largest coffee supplier, have experienced significantly reduced Arabica bean harvests this year due to frosts and droughts.
As per research that predicts the development circumstances for cashews, avocados, and coffee over the next 30 years and is published in the journal One, coffee is “the most susceptible, with detrimental climatic consequences prevailing in all major producing locations.”
By 2050, it is predicted that there may be a 50% fall in the number of regions best suited to growing coffee and a 31–41% decrease in those that are just moderately appropriate.
Coffee thrives in environments with consistent temperatures year-round. This means that, in addition to causing coffee scarcity, a changing climate may also endanger the earnings of millions of people, mostly in developing nations.
7. Bumpier Plane Trips
Changing climate makes it harder to anticipate air circulation patterns, making flights considerably uncomfortable. According to the US National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB), turbulence is now the most prevalent reason for airline tragedies.
Planes entering turbulent skies were to blame for more than 65 % of the significant injuries on airplanes that US accident investigators documented between 2017-2020.
The prevalence of “clear-air turbulence” is already rising and is anticipated to double two or three times over the next several decades, making air patterns less foreseeable.
Unpredictable air currents generate clear-air turbulence. They are more challenging to identify by sight or radar technology since they happen in clear air rather than in clouds. As per NTSB, 28 % of turbulence-related incidents between 2009 and 2018 did not have any prior warnings.
8. More Lightning
Around 8 million lightning strikes occur on Earth daily, but that number may increase substantially with the increasing temperature. According to research, lightning strikes might increase by 12 per cent for every 1C of warming.
This indicates that lightning damage is probably going to get worse. Because lightning may start fires amid dry foliage, other forest fires might result from this, and electrical equipment and power systems could sustain significant damage.
According to The Guardian, the incidence of lightning strikes in the high Arctic nearly doubled in 2021.
9. Increased Volcanic Activity
Active volcanoes have many glaciers covering their flanks. The melting of these glaciers may affect the circulation of volcanic magma and cause more significant eruptions due to the decreased pressure on the Earth’s surface.
Researchers observed that the eruptions drastically decreased as the temperature cooled and ice levels increased when they compared historical volcanic data with glacial covers.
More research is being done better to understand the relationships between glaciers and volcanic activity. But even outside of colder areas, alterations in weather patterns have the potential to cause eruptions.
The growth of trees in Europe has accelerated during the last 50 years. According to German researchers at the TUM, tree growth has sometimes surged by as much as 70%.
While there are many theories to explain this occurrence, scientists believe that increased quantities of nitrogen and carbon dioxide in the atmosphere may encourage the development of trees. Climate change is to be given credit for much higher levels.
These were just some of the Unexpected Effects of Climate Change, but if we do not put control climate change, this is just the beginning.
Dr. Emily Greenfield is a highly accomplished environmentalist with over 30 years of experience in writing, reviewing, and publishing content on various environmental topics. Hailing from the United States, she has dedicated her career to raising awareness about environmental issues and promoting sustainable practices.