According to IPCC the observed warming over the last decades has led to changing precipitation patterns, intensities and extremes, to reduced snow cover and widespread melting of ice and to changes in soil moisture and runoff. Precipitation has increased in high northern latitudes and decreased in southern latitudes. Land classified as very dry has more than doubled since the 1970s.
Many semi-arid and arid regions like the Mediterranean basin, southern Africa and north-eastern Brazil are expected to become drier and droughts will increase. At the same time the melting of glaciers and snow covers will result in floods in low laying areas but in the long run in less water availability. By 2050 the areas with increasing water stress will more than double as compared to areas with decreased water stress.
Social and economic impacts
Current assessments of climate change impacts say that inhabitants of developing countries are already today affected by the impacts of climate change. Their vulnerability increases due to more frequent and heavier extreme weather events. In regions where glaciers and snow covers melt the downstream located areas are endangered by floods and landslides. This can cost human lives and result in the destruction of infrastructure, houses, fields and rangeland.
In regions devastated by floods the infrastructure for water supply and for sanitation might be damaged or destroyed causing serious health problems to the population.
In regions where droughts and water scarcity increase, groundwater and water availability in general is at stake and the costs for water supply will rise dramatically. In water scarce regions the competition for fresh water might lead to social conflicts and to migration.
The rising costs for fresh water will endanger the livelihood of poor households and result in more poverty, both in rural and urban areas.
At the same time water scarcity has adverse impacts on crop yields and food production and will contribute to a general aggravation of living conditions of the poor.
The environment consists of the physical and biological surrounding of an organism and their interactions. An ecosystem is composed of biotic (living) and abiotic (non-living) elements in a specific area. Climate is a part of ecosystems and influences them.
Some observed climatic changes include melting of glaciers, thawing of permafrost, later freezing and earlier break-up of ice on rivers and lakes, lengthening of growing seasons, shifts in plant and animal ranges and earlier flowering of trees.
IPCC also concludes from other published studies that 20 - 30 % of species may be at risk of extinction from climate change impacts within this century if global warming continues.
- ↑ 1.0 1.1 Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (2008): Technical Paper on Climate Change and Water. Finalized at the 37th Session of the IPCC Bureau. http://www.ipcc.ch/meetings/session28/doc13.pdf [accessed 17 April 2013]
- ↑ IPCC (1995): Summary for Policymakers: The Economic and Social Dimensions of Climate Change - IPCC Working Group III. http://www.ipcc.ch/pdf/climate-changes-1995/spm-economic-social-dimensions.pdf [accessed 17 April 2013]
- ↑ Stern (2006): The Economics of Climate Change.http://siteresources.worldbank.org/INTINDONESIA/Resources/226271-1170911056314/3428109-1174614780539/SternReviewEng.pdf [accessed 17 April 2013]
- ↑ 4.0 4.1 IPCC (2007): Climate Change. The IPCC Impacts Assessment. http://www.ipcc.ch/ipccreports/far/wg_II/ipcc_far_wg_II_full_report.pdffckLR[accessed 17 April 2013]