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 This photo shows a smokestack from a factory churning gray smoke into the air.
The burning of fossil fuels in industry and by vehicles releases carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases into the atmosphere. (credit: “Pöllö”/Wikimedia Commons)

Documented results of climate change: past and present

Scientists have geological evidence of the consequences of long-ago climate change. Modern-day phenomena such as retreating glaciers and melting polar ice cause a continual rise in sea level. Meanwhile, changes in climate can negatively affect organisms.

Geological climate change

Global warming has been associated with at least one planet-wide extinction event during the geological past. The Permian extinction event occurred about 251 million years ago toward the end of the roughly 50-million-year-long geological time span known as the Permian period. This geologic time period was one of the three warmest periods in Earth’s geologic history. Scientists estimate that approximately 70 percent of the terrestrial plant and animal species and 84 percent of marine species became extinct, vanishing forever near the end of the Permian period. Organisms that had adapted to wet and warm climatic conditions, such as annual rainfall of 300–400 cm (118–157 in) and 20 °C–30 °C (68 °F–86 °F) in the tropical wet forest, may not have been able to survive the Permian climate change.

Watch this NASA video to discover the mixed effects of global warming on plant growth. While scientists found that warmer temperatures in the 1980s and 1990s caused an increase in plant productivity, this advantage has since been counteracted by more frequent droughts.

Present climate change

A number of global events have occurred that may be attributed to climate change during our lifetimes. Glacier National Park in Montana is undergoing the retreat of many of its glaciers, a phenomenon known as glacier recession. In 1850, the area contained approximately 150 glaciers. By 2010, however, the park contained only about 24 glaciers greater than 25 acres in size. One of these glaciers is the Grinnell Glacier ( [link] ) at Mount Gould. Between 1966 and 2005, the size of Grinnell Glacier shrank by 40 percent. Similarly, the mass of the ice sheets in Greenland and the Antarctic is decreasing: Greenland lost 150–250 km 3 of ice per year between 2002 and 2006. In addition, the size and thickness of the Arctic sea ice is decreasing.

 A series of photos shows the Grinnel Glacier in 1938, 1981, 1998 and 2009. In 1938, the lake beneath the glacier was completely frozen. In 1981, about one-third of the lake was thawed. In 1998, two-thirds of the lake was thawed. In 2009, it was covered with chunks of ice, but otherwise it was completely thawed. At the same time, the glacier itself has steadily receded.
The effect of global warming can be seen in the continuing retreat of Grinnel Glacier. The mean annual temperature in the park has increased 1.33 °C since 1900. The loss of a glacier results in the loss of summer meltwaters, sharply reducing seasonal water supplies and severely affecting local ecosystems. (credit: modification of work by USGS)

This loss of ice is leading to increases in the global sea level. On average, the sea is rising at a rate of 1.8 mm per year. However, between 1993 and 2010 the rate of sea level increase ranged between 2.9 and 3.4 mm per year. A variety of factors affect the volume of water in the ocean, including the temperature of the water (the density of water is related to its temperature) and the amount of water found in rivers, lakes, glaciers, polar ice caps, and sea ice. As glaciers and polar ice caps melt, there is a significant contribution of liquid water that was previously frozen.

In addition to some abiotic conditions changing in response to climate change, many organisms are also being affected by the changes in temperature. Temperature and precipitation play key roles in determining the geographic distribution and phenology of plants and animals. (Phenology is the study of the effects of climatic conditions on the timing of periodic lifecycle events, such as flowering in plants or migration in birds.) Researchers have shown that 385 plant species in Great Britain are flowering 4.5 days sooner than was recorded earlier during the previous 40 years. In addition, insect-pollinated species were more likely to flower earlier than wind-pollinated species. The impact of changes in flowering date would be mitigated if the insect pollinators emerged earlier. This mismatched timing of plants and pollinators could result in injurious ecosystem effects because, for continued survival, insect-pollinated plants must flower when their pollinators are present.

Section summary

The Earth has gone through periodic cycles of increases and decreases in temperature. During the past 2000 years, the Medieval Climate Anomaly was a warmer period, while the Little Ice Age was unusually cool. Both of these irregularities can be explained by natural causes of changes in climate, and, although the temperature changes were small, they had significant effects. Natural drivers of climate change include Milankovitch cycles, changes in solar activity, and volcanic eruptions. None of these factors, however, leads to rapid increases in global temperature or sustained increases in carbon dioxide. The burning of fossil fuels is an important source of greenhouse gases, which plays a major role in the greenhouse effect. Long ago, global warming resulted in the Permian extinction: a large-scale extinction event that is documented in the fossil record. Currently, modern-day climate change is associated with the increased melting of glaciers and polar ice sheets, resulting in a gradual increase in sea level. Plants and animals can also be affected by global climate change when the timing of seasonal events, such as flowering or pollination, is affected by global warming.

Questions & Answers

what is an organ
rab Reply
a part of a organism
Devinayasha
A group of cell makes organ
Hamza
Organ is part of the body.
MR
a group of tissues that perform a specific function
Divya
What is pseudopodia
Mmesoma Reply
a temporary protrusion of the surface of an ameboid cell for movement and feeding.
Black
This help the animals to move from one place to another
Francess
what is the live ?
AZHKIR Reply
what
Hamdi
awkward🤒
bix
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khan Reply
what is alliminatary canal
Shaaibu
i don't know but i wana to laern please tell me
Hamdi
there is something called googling as far as i know
bix
biology_it's science that study of living things
Black
alimentary canal_the whole passage along which food passes through the body from mouth to anus. It includes the esophagus, stomach, and intestines.
Black
is a branch of science whith deals the study of living things
AZHKIR
what element in colors purple
Mikaela Reply
what are the function of sympathetic nervous system and parasympathetic nervous system
Ubon Reply
what is preganglionic
Ubon
don't know
Sweety
what is reproduction
Aben
reproducing specifically : the process by which plants and animals give rise to offspring and which fundamentally consists of the segregation of a portion of the parental body by a sexual or an asexual process and its subsequent growth and differentiation into a new individual.
Black
is the process where by organism produce their new organism of the same species from those who a ready in existence.
Prudent
what is unicellular cell
Abigail
unicellular orgnism* meaning consisting of a single cell
Black
How does reproduction take place in human being
Aben
Is a single celled organism
Brian
What is the Antibiotic
Tamara Reply
antibiotics is any medication that stop the growth of bacteria
onuoha
what is biomolecules
Lawerence Reply
This is a group of molecules produced by a living organism
Odion
thank alot,I had a hard time getting the answer
Lawerence
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It Reply
Now Mr. Niger Dac M;movement R;respiration N;nutrition G;growth E;excretion R;reproduction D;death A;adaptation C;competition
Odion
Sorry.... I;irritability
Odion
GOOD MORNING MY NAME IS MESUMBE PRECIOUS WHAT IS YOUR NAME
Mesumbe Reply
ccc
Peace
hi
Emmanuel
Emmanuel Daniel
Emmanuel
what is the meaning of Mr Niger?
Emmanuel
the meaning of Mr Niger, movement , reproduction , nutrition, inspiration , growth, excretion ,reproduction
Shonde
Emmanuel Daniel it's Mr NIGER D
debby
and d is for death
Shonde
Brown Jones ug
Anguyo
state all the elements and their symbols
Taiwo Reply
what types of muscles are found in the heart
Diamond Reply
Cardiac muscle
Divya
cardiac or myocardia muscle
onuoha
cardiac muscles
Elvis
cardiac muscle
Jemima
Cardiac muscle
Dr
Thank you dear!
yimam
please can you tell me the meaning of Mr Niger?
Emmanuel
It is an initial to represent life processes of organisms. M means movement, R for reproduction, N stands for nutrition, I for irritability or sensitivity,G means growth , E for excretion and R stands for respiration.
Quartey
cardiac muscle
Stanisla
what is digestion
Dolla Reply
it is the chemical break down of insoluble food substances such as fatty acid to soluble substances which are then used for body processes
Lawerence
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sadeeq Reply
levels of ecological study
sadeeq
no
Dolla
human sperms contains acid
Dolla
what is an artery
Dolla
It is one of the organs of the circulatory system that carries oxygenated blood from the heart to other parts of the body.
Quartey
artery is type of blood vessel which carries blood away from heart...
shams
how liver destroy red blood cells?
shams
big bang theory was discovered by
Sweety Reply
Georges Lemaître
Mr

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Source:  OpenStax, Biology. OpenStax CNX. Feb 29, 2016 Download for free at http://cnx.org/content/col11448/1.10
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