In the past couple of weeks there have been several research studies projecting environmental consequences to rising global temperatures. It is an interesting mix of good and bad. Let's start with the good.
Climate change studies of the southern and eastern parts of Africa show a short benefit with increasing yields of staple food crops. These areas project increased rainfall through the 2030s leading to bumper crops of corn, rice and wheat, and as long as temperatures do not exceed plant tolerance levels should see better harvests.
But what one continent receives another loses. The same studies project that much of southeastern Latin America will face increasingly drier conditions requiring major investments in irrigation by the 2030s.
And both inevitably will be impacted negatively by atmospheric warming throughout the latter part of the century with temperatures exceeding the heat tolerance limit of current staple crops. So by 2090 without the development of new heat tolerant crop strains both regions of the planet will witness dramatic drops in yields.
The two global maps shown below illustrate the near-term (2030) and longer-term (2090) projections and the degree of confidence the research provides based on the data studied. It is interesting to note that climate change negative impacts remain significant in the American and Canadian corn and wheat belts throughout the century. In contrast eastern parts of North America and much of Eastern Europe through Russia will be beneficiaries of rising atmospheric temperatures. From the the 2030s through the 2090s the study projects a trend towards increasing water scarcity reaching severe levels in much of the American Southwest, Spain Iraq, Iran, Southeastern Australia, India and Pakistan, and the Yellow River basin of Northern and Central China.
Another good news climate change item reported in the last week is the dramatic recovery of an isolated coral reef that suffered bleaching back in the 1990s. Based on an Australian study over 15 years of Scott Reef located in the Indian Ocean the researchers happily reported the reef's full recovery. The massive bleaching was attributed to a number of environmental insults including rising ocean temperatures, disturbances to water quality and overfishing. Scott Reef may be an anomaly but it does speak to the resilience of life even in the presence of profound environmental disturbances. Let's hope that Scott Reef is not "the isolated case."
Now for the bad news. It seems that rising atmospheric temperatures will impact airfares. The reason, rising atmospheric turbulence will mean more wear and tear on jet planes traveling ocean routes. As reported in Nature Climate Change this week, it won't be just the storms that will make air travel less comfortable. Researchers predict increasing incidents of clear-air turbulence resulting from global warming. Clear-air turbulence is impossible to detect until an airplane enters the airspace where it is occurring. It often produces some pretty rough rides leading to damaged aircraft and injured passengers. The North Atlantic, the busiest air corridor today on the planet, will see "a 10 - 40% increase in the median strength of turbulence and a 40 - 170% increase in the frequency of occurrence of moderate-or-greater turbulence." So for the airlines it means higher operational costs and for passengers higher airfares and bumpier flights, a consequence of global climate change.
Essays and comments posted in World Future Society and THE FUTURIST magazine blog portion of this site are the intellectual property of the authors, who retain full responsibility for and rights to their content. For permission to publish, distribute copies, use excerpts, etc., please contact the author. The opinions expressed are those of the author. The World Future Society takes no stand on what the future will or should be like.
KEEP UP WITH WFS NEWS & UPCOMING EVENTS
May 24, 2015 - What started as a social media phenomenon on many university campuses has blossomed into a global movement by institutions, corporations, foundations, pension funds and even governments. It involves wiping hands clean of stocks and bonds issued by fossil fuel companies.
May 22, 2015 - California has a lot of negatives going on right now. It is in the middle of the worst drought the state has experienced since records were kept, watching its in-state and out-of-state water reserves dry up. It is over populated and yet still a draw for tens of thousands of illegal immigrant crossing from Mexico each year. And it is perennially in debt.
May 22, 2015 - Researchers at Hebrew University of Jerusalem have developed a product that oxidizes soil polluted by oil and other contaminants.
May 21, 2015 - This week in Paris world business leaders have gathered to talk about climate change and investment. Two months ago 266 large investors responsible for managing $20 trillion U.S.
May 20, 2015 - An Antarctic ice shelf located on the continent's peninsula that juts northward towards South America is expected to collapse into the Southern Ocean possibly within the next few decades.
May 20, 2015 - I have previously written about autoimmune diseases of which multiple sclerosis (MS) is one.
May 19, 2015 - Another NASA challenge was launched on May 16th, this one called The 3D-Printed Habitat Challenge. The goal to develop safe, sustainable off-world housing. Deadline to register is July 15th. Submission deadline is August 3rd.
May 18, 2015 - In what must be a first for Canadian scientists working in the public service, its union as part of its collective bargaining has demanded that researchers be allowed to speak openly about their work.