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Impacts Of Climate Change On Coastal Areas Environmental Sciences Essay

Paper Type: Free Essay Subject: Environmental Sciences
Wordcount: 1752 words Published: 1st Jan 2015

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An increase or decrease in the temperature for a long time has negative effects on the coastal areas (Moser, 2000). Global warming in the biggest environmental issue which posses stress and pressure to the coast leading to floods and erosions (Shaw, 2002). Tropical or winter storms can grow to dangerous coastal storms, making the surface of the water fiercer (“Forces of nature”, 2000). Higher temperature levels in the climate increases the temperature of the water, increasing the risk of low oxygen conditions threatening fish stocks and other marine organisms (David, & Gordon, 2007). Global warming, high temperature level and coastal storms require more consideration and a better solution is needed to overcome these to protect the coast and the earth from being submerged.

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In 2002, Jane S. Shaw, stated that global warming manifest of being the most dangerous environmental issue as it has the ability to affect the entire earth and the whole world depends on it. Global warming warms the earth due to the excess of carbon in the atmosphere (Cunnigham, Cunningham, Saigo, Bailey, & Shrubsole, 2005). The ocean’s job is to keep the planet’s carbon dioxide levels in balance or equilibrium but the problem now is that with so much carbon dioxide in the atmosphere from burning fossil fuels, the oceans, like the air are getting warmer (David, & Gordon, 2007). When the oceanic water becomes warmer than usual, it leads to thermal expansion; water molecules move faster and become farther apart, occupying more space (Stein, 2001). Cold seawater absorbs more carbon dioxide than warm seawater, therefore if carbon dioxide emissions continue to rise; the oceans will simply be too warm to take as much carbon dioxide as they have been (David, & Gordon, 2007). In the North and South poles, ice and snow reflect away solar radiation from the earth’s surface because of their bright white color. Higher temperatures make the ice and snow reflect less sunlight, making the earth warmer (Stein, 2001). Increase in the temperature can melt the ice sheets into the oceans (Shaw, 2002). If the Greenland ice sheets melts completely, it will add enough water to raise levels all across the world by 21 feet (6.4m) (David, & Gordon, 2007). In 2007, David and Gordon observed that in the last 100 years, global sea levels have risen 8 inches (20cm). When the sea level rises, there is an increased threat of floods and erosion (Stein, 2002). When there is too much carbon dioxide in the air, the sea takes up the slack, soaking up the extra carbon dioxide like a gigantic sponge (David, & Gordon, 2007). In general, the warming of the earth does not lead to either positive or profitable consequences. Global warming only contributes to negative ends and destroys the globe slowly. Melting of the ice sheets is not a good sign for the earth and actions towards global warming needs to be enforced to be able to prevent the ice sheets from melting and raising the level of the oceans.

This picture of the graph shows increase in the sea level rise from 1850 to 2100 and it is predicted that the sea level will rise up to 20 inches till 2050 due to thermal expansion and the melting of ice sheets (“Sea level rise,” 2010).

There are approximately one billion people who live in coastal areas (David, & Gordon, 2007). Even small levels in the sea rise can be dangerous for small islands (Shaw, 2002). Urban areas built near sea level like New York, Boston, Washington, and Miami can be at risk because of flooding (Moser, 2000). The rise in sea increases the risk of coastal flooding from rainstorms, because low areas drain more slowly as sea level rises (“Climate change health”, 2010). The coastal storms become more dangerous when the wind and waves drive water farther inland than ever before (Stein, 2001). Coastal storms cause a lot of damage in coastal areas, resulting in flooding and mudslides (Moser, 2000). Industrialized countries such as United States and Europe might be able to cope with the dangers related to sea level rise but other poor countries might not (Shaw, 2002). The increase in sea level poses as threat to properties, infrastructures, coastal industries, coastal and marine ecosystems (Moser, 2000). Because of tropical or winter storms the ocean waves intensifies on the open ocean and these storms make the surface of the water much choppier and fiercer than normal which affects the beaches ( “Forces of nature”, 2000). There is tremendous loss of money when recreational areas near beaches get affected due to beach erosion (Moser, 2000). Hundreds of cities are built near the sea level and there is a lot of money involved in the development of these cities. If erosion occurs, these areas will flood. Poor countries cannot even afford to prevent floods or help

people living along the coastal areas, therefore they need to protect the environment and come up with all the possible, economical ways to reduce catastrophic weather change.

Rising sea temperature is considered to be the largest threat to coral reefs today (“mangroves for the”, 2007). The “mangroves for the” in 2007 also stated that when there is a higher concentration of carbon dioxide in the seawater, it will lead to ocean acidification reducing calcification rates of calcifying organisms such as corals. Corals and all shellfish need a certain level of calcium in order to make their hard shells; but higher acidity hits the delicate balance of calcium in the water, reducing the amount available to coral and shellfish to build their protective skeletons (David, & Gordon, 2007). Disintegration of degraded reefs following bleaching or reduced classification may result in increased wave energy across reef flats with potential for shoreline erosion (“mangroves for the”, 2007). When water temperature rise, the algae cannot photosynthesize, the chemical reaction that converts sunlight and carbon dioxide into sugars is blocked and the coral losses its source of color and turns white, almost as if it grown old overnight (David, & Gordon, 2007). There is limited ecological and genetic evidence for adaptation of corals to warmer conditions (“mangroves for the”, 2007). Bleached corals becomes weaker and more vulnerable to disease, predators and storms, it is becoming a pretty feeble hideout for exotic fish (David, & Gordon, 2007). Many reefs are affected by tropical cyclones, impacts range from minor breakage of fragile corals to destruction of the majority of corals on a reef and deposition of debris as coarse storm ridges (“mangroves for the”, 2007). Coastal storms pollute the water due to sediments and pollutants with higher runoff (David, & Gordon, 2007). Coastal ecosystems, especially mangroves forests and coral reefs act as buffers against extreme weather conditions and natural disasters, thereby reducing the vulnerability of coastal communities and their investments (“mangroves for the”, 2007). As stated earlier, the change in the climate can rise the sea level which enables living organisms that live in the ocean from performing daily normal tasks and they eventually die. The ocean is a very big ecosystem for millions of organisms and they are all connected with each other, the removal of one specie from the food chain can really affect the other species. The corals act as an important factor in the ocean and therefore they need to be protected and the sea level and pH needs to be balanced so that the corals are not bleached or affected.

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Preventative measurements need to be taken toward the coastal areas because a lot of lives can be affected if precautions are not taken. Numerous amounts of projects as well as investments are trying to save the earth from being submerged. The mangroves for the future (MFF) launched a project whose objective is to strengthen the environmental sustainability of coastal development and promote sound investment in costal ecosystem management as a means of enhancing resilience and supporting local livelihoods (“mangroves for the”, 2007). There are approximately a number of 200 million people who live across the world in high risk coastal flooding areas, (“how to prevent, 2010) and this MFF project might be able to help them. These projects require a lot of money to be able to put in action, long term erosion defense and repair requires millions of dollars and requires the participation of a lot of members (“how to prevent”, 2010). The MFF supports and endorses the concept of REDD (reducing emissions from deforestation and ecosystem degradation) as a result of climate change and mitigation option (“mangroves for the”, 2007). There are preventative measures being taken to protect the low-lying coastal areas against damage from tidal inundation through the construction of embankments capable of withstanding the anticipated storm surge height and forces (“disaster preventation and”, 1999). These types of protection will decrease the amount of force in the tides and might prevent the beaches from getting a disastrous damage. The buildings of seawalls, barrier islands and beach nourishment can also protect the coast from the climate change impact (“how to do”, 2010). Barrier island is a piece of land that is made up of sand and it prevents the coastal storms from damaging the mainland of the island (Paris). The strength of coastal storms changes the shape and the form of the islands and causes erosion of the dunes and can completely destroy the dune system if it is severe (Paris). One of the most dangerous effects on earth is global warming. Global warming comes with enormous amounts of complexity and dangers for the globe. The impacts of this threat needs to be reduced so that it does not damage the earth and therefore every single individual need to live greener. There are multiple ways through which global warming can be reduce. People need to be more energy efficient and they can do so by turning their appliances off when its not required, insulating their house, making their lifestyle greener by reducing the use of vehicles and by educating future generations (“prevent climate change”, 2010). These small steps can add up at the end and make a big change on the climate.


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