Tropical regions face a ‘perfect storm’ of droughts, hurricanes and floods created by climate change.
A study warns that the ‘perfect storm’ of heat waves, hurricanes and floods caused by climate change is causing a collapse of biodiversity in the tropics
- Climate change and carbon dioxide emissions are related to extreme weather
- Extreme events are decimating the ecosystems and biodiversity of tropical regions.
- El Niño is amplifying the damage caused by man-induced climate change
- Experts say that reducing CO2 emissions is the only way to avoid further damage
A study reveals that the tropical regions of the Earth, the most diverse areas of the world, face an unprecedented collapse of biodiversity and ecosystems.
The researchers discovered that the combination of climate change, extreme weather and human activity is creating a perfect storm, bringing regions to the brink of catastrophe.
More than 100 locations of tropical forests and coral reefs were mapped after being devastated by extreme weather events such as droughts, floods and hurricanes.
The experts involved in the study claim that the only way to avoid further damage is to reduce carbon dioxide emissions.
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More than 100 locations of tropical forests and coral reefs were mapped after being devastated by extreme weather events such as droughts, floods and hurricanes. The researchers found that climate change, extreme weather and human activity combine for a perfect storm that brings regions to the brink of catastrophe.
Dr. Cassandra Benkwitt, a marine ecologist at Lancaster University, said: “Climate change is causing more intense and frequent marine storms and heat waves.”
‘For coral reefs, these extreme events reduce the coverage of live coral and cause lasting changes in both coral and fish communities, which exacerbates local threats of poor water quality and overfishing.
“Although the long-term trajectory of the reefs will depend on how extreme events interact with these local stressors, even relatively pristine reefs are vulnerable to both climate change and extreme weather.”
What is the boy?
El Niño is caused by a change in the distribution of warm water in the Pacific Ocean around the equator.
Usually, the wind blows heavily from east to west, due to the Earth’s rotation, causing water to accumulate in the western part of the Pacific.
This raises colder water from the deep ocean in the eastern Pacific.
However, in an El Niño, the winds that push the water weaken and cause the warmer water to move eastward. This makes the eastern Pacific warm.
But as the temperature of the ocean is linked to wind currents, this causes the winds to weaken further and the ocean to warm up, which means that El Niño grows.
This change in air and ocean currents around the equator can have a great impact on weather patterns throughout the world by creating pressure anomalies in the atmosphere.
Tropical forest species are also threatened by the increasing frequency of another climatic event caused by climate change: extreme hurricanes.
Dr. Guadalupe Peralta of the University of Canterbury in New Zealand says that the consequences of rainforests after extreme hurricanes are far-reaching.
He said that plants are destroyed, which affects the animals, birds and insects that depend on them for food and shelter.
“In some regions, such as the Caribbean Islands, extreme weather events have decimated wildlife, reducing the number by more than half,” he continues.
“We are beginning to see another wave of global tropical bird extinctions as forest fragmentation reduces populations to critical levels,” said Dr. Alexander Lees of the Manchester Metropolitan University.
The combination of higher temperatures with longer and more severe dry seasons has also led to the spread of unprecedented and large-scale forest fires.
Dr. Filipe França said that at the end of 2015, Santarém, in the Brazilian state of Pará, was one of the epicenters of the El Niño impacts of that year. caused extreme droughts, forest fires and coral bleaching (archive photo)
The events of El Niño, a global climatic phenomenon that triggers an exceptionally warm climate, have also wreaked havoc in tropical areas.
Dr. Filipe França said that at the end of 2015, Santarém, in the Brazilian state of Pará, was one of the epicenters of the El Niño impacts of that year.
“The region experienced severe drought and extensive forest fires, and I was sad to see the serious consequences for forest wildlife,” he said.
The drought also affected the ability of forests to recover from fires and critically damaged some coral reefs.
Professor Nick Graham of Lancaster University said: “ The 2015-16 coral bleaching event was the worst ever recorded, and many locations worldwide lost vast expanses of valuable corals.
“Worryingly, these global bleaching events are becoming more frequent due to the rise in ocean temperature due to global warming.”
WHAT IS CORAL WHITENING?
Corals have a symbiotic relationship with small seaweed called ‘zooxanthellae’ that live inside and nourish them.
When sea surface temperatures rise, corals eject colorful seaweed. The loss of algae causes them to bleach and turn white.
These bleached states can last up to six weeks, and although corals can recover if the temperature drops and the algae return, severely bleached corals die and are covered by algae.
In any case, this makes it difficult to distinguish between healthy corals and dead corals from satellite images.
This bleaching recently killed up to 80 percent of corals in some areas of the Great Barrier Reef.
Laundering events of this nature are occurring around the world four times more frequently than they used to.
An aerial view of the Great Barrier Reef of Australia. The corals of the Great Barrier Reef have suffered two successive bleaching events, in 2016 and earlier this year, which generated experts’ concern about the ability of the reefs to survive under global warming.