Chapter 14

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Environmental Science
Carl Mitchell

Chapter 14 y Around the world rising seas will eat away at the coral reefs mangrove forests and salt marshes that serve as barriers protecting our coasts y Climate change poses two additional threats to coral reefs o Warmer waters are causing coral bleaching and o Enhanced C0 concentrations in the atmosphere are changing ocean 2chemistry As ocean water absorbs atmospheric C0 it becomes ore 2acidic which impairs the growth of coral and other organisms whose exoskeletons consist of calcium carbonateGreenlands Glaciers Race to the Sea y Greenlands ice sheet is massive nearly 3 km at its thickest point and covers 2approximately 17 million kman area larger than the entire province of Quebec y If the entire ice sheet were to melt global sea level would rise by a whopping 7 m y The ice sheet like all perennial ice masses gains mass by accumulating snow during cold weather which becomes packed into ice over time y It loses mass as surface ice melt in warm weather generally at the periphery where ice is thinnest or contacts seawatery If melting and runoff outpace accumulation the ice sheet shrinks y Ice in outlets glaciers flows more quickly during warm months when pools of meltwater form on the surface and leak down through crevasses and vertical tunnels called moulins to the bottom of the glaciery There the water runs downhill in a layer between bedrock surface and enabling the ice to slide downhill like a car hydroplaning on a wet road y In addition the meltwater weakens ice on its way down and warms the base of the glacier melting some of it to create more water y Other scientists have proposed that warming ocean water melts ice shelves along the coast depriving outlets of glaciers of the buttressing support that holds them in place Climate change affects organisms and ecosystemsy As global warming proceeds it modifies temperaturedependent biological phenomena y Environmental refugeespeople who have been driven from their homelands as a result of environmental change or natural disaster y Their favored habitat in the vicinity of glaciers is also threatened as a result of rapidly changing conditions in the glacial environment y These changes will greatly affect species interactions and scientists foresee major modifications in the structure and function of communities and ecosystems y In regions where precipitation and stream flow increase erosion and flooding will pollute and alter aquatic systems y In regions where precipitation decreases lakes ponds wetlands and streams will diminish affecting aquatic organisms as well as human health and wellbeing
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