Part 6—Explore Climate Change Impacts on Another Region
Step 1 Observe Regions Affected by Global Temperature Anomaly
The anomaly maps from the EdGCM reveal that some regions of the world may experience a greater temperature anomaly, and/or a greater loss of ice and snow cover, than others, including regions in which students completing this exercise may reside. The map grid cells overlying these regions provide the actual data for comparison. In this part of the exercise students will choose to analyze the data from the grid cells nearest the region in which their city resides, as well as from another region of the world to which they can compare their "home" data.
Regions of interest are highlighted on this map. See instructions below on how to download a larger, printable version of the map.
Global regions for comparison are outlined below. The IPCC has identified countries and regions with the greatest risk of impact from climate change. These impacts are not always due just to temperature, so it will be necessary to make the connection between temperature and other results of climate change, allowing students to speculate on how each country or region may be impacted and why some countries or regions may have greater concerns than others regarding projected climate change data.
When deciding on a region, think in terms of impacts to:
- the environment – loss of biodiversity, loss of habitat, changes to ecosystem components
- economic activities – primary sector (such as agriculture, mining, forestry), secondary sector (such as construction or manufacturing), and tertiary sector (recreation and tourism, retail, financial)
- human populations – such as increased incidence of diseases or natural hazards, migration and resettlement, or cultural adaptations to a changing environment (clothing, housing, food, etc.)
Step 2 Choose a Grid Cell for your "Home Region"
Download the regions map (Acrobat (PDF) 369kB Aug19 09)
like the one pictured above on the right.
Choose a "grid cell" from your region of interest.
Note the latitude and longitude of the highlighted area on the map. Use these numbers when zooming into your region of interest with EdGCM.
Step 3 Choose a Region of Interest and Impact from the list below
I. Europe: particularly Western and Southern Europe (Portugal, Spain, France, Italy, Switzerland, Germany, Luxembourg, Belgium, Netherlands), and the Scandinavian countries (Norway, Sweden, Finland)
II. Russian Region: particularly Siberian Russia
- The 2003 European heat wave, which is estimated to have killed 70,000 people mostly in Western and Southern Europe, is attributed to climate change and particularly to increased maximum temperatures. More frequent and intense heat waves are projected, impacting health in Europe's densely populated urban areas.
- Increased temperatures and changes to rainfall patterns will impact agriculture.
- Mountainous areas will face glacial retreat and reduced snow cover, which will impact biodiversity as well as recreation and tourism.
- In southern Europe, climate change is projected to increase the frequency and magnitude of heat waves and drought, potentially impacting water availability, and the ability to generate hydroelectric power.
- Summer and winter tourism could be affected by these changes.
- Though sparsely populated, Siberia is home to the largest coniferous forest in the world (the Taiga), an ecosystem that is adapted to cold, relatively dry climates with a short, distinct summer season.
- Increased temperatures will alter the Taiga ecosystem, impacting peat-forming wetlands (important to the global carbon cycle) as well as the fauna unique to the Taiga.
- Climate change potentially impacts logging and other forest-related economic activities, as well as dairy farming (esp. in the Vologda region) and crop production.
III. East Asia: particularly China
- Western China, mostly high desert and steppe, is likely to see drier conditions, impacting agriculture and water availability.
- Snow melt in the mountains may increase stream levels and increase flooding at lower elevations further east.
IV. South Asia: particularly India and Bangladesh
- Snow melt in the Himalayas is a significant source for the largest rivers in this region (Indus, Ganges, and Brahmaputra).
- Increased temperatures will increase snow melt, increasing flood hazards, which is already a problem in Bangladesh. Impacts on monsoonal rainfall patterns are uncertain, but could increase the length and intensity of seasonal droughts and flooding.
- Impacts on human health from flooding and drought, particularly water-borne diseases in the most densely population regions.
- Impacts on agriculture, which is a significant part of the economies of both India and Bangladesh.
V. Southeast Asia: Impacts are not as discernible in this region
- The IPCC cites potential downstream flooding, combined with sea level rise, as the major impact in this region, so the impacts are more indirect.
- Coastal urban areas (sea level rise) and agriculture will experience the main impacts.
VI. South Pacific and Oceania: particularly Australia
- Australia's drought-prone interior is expected to get hotter and experience longer and more intense droughts.
- Loss of biodiversity in the Great Barrier Reef and Queensland tropics due to increased temperatures.
- Impacts on agriculture and on the availability of water resources in both Australia (southern and eastern) and New Zealand.
- In small Pacific Island nations, higher temperatures will result in increased invasion by non-native species, which is already a problem. Indirectly, sea level rise will impact fresh water and cause deterioration of coastal conditions, forcing evacuation and migration (e.g., the island nation of Tuvalu).
VII. North Africa and Middle East: particularly northern African nations (Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia, Libya, Egypt)
- Hotter, drier, greater competition for already-limited water resources.
- Human health impacts from increased temperatures, lack of water resources.
VIII. Sub-Saharan Africa: particularly countries in two sub-regions (probably best to look at the entire sub-region rather than the individual nations)
- The Sahel (Burkina Faso, Chad, Gambia, Mali, Mauritania, Niger, Senegal)
- The Sahel is the transition between the Sahara desert in the north and the tropical savannah (grasslands) to the south, an area already prone to prolonged droughts. An increase of 5 to 8% of arid and semi-arid land throughout Africa is projected by the IPCC, impacting this region in particular.
- Affects agriculture of all kinds: crops, grazing and animal husbandry. Yields from rain-fed agriculture could be reduced by up to 50% according to the IPCC report.
- Competition for scarce water resources will increase.
- Human health impacts from increased temperatures, lack of water resources, could result in large migrations of people from this sub-region.
- Southern Africa (Angola, Botswana, Lesotho, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa, Swaziland, Zambia, Zimbabwe)
- Seasonal wet/dry periods may intensify.
- Impacts agriculture and other primary sector economic activities.
- Alters seasonal migration patterns of wildlife.
- Alters biodiversity, as some plants and animals will be unable to adapt to higher temperatures or changes in precipitation patterns.
IX. Latin America: particularly Ecuador, Brazil, Paraguay, Uruguay, Chile, Argentina
- Increases in temperature and associated decreases in soil water (due to increased evaporation) are projected to lead to gradual replacement of tropical rainforest by savanna (grasslands) in eastern Amazonia; steppe lands will revert to desert.
- There is a risk of significant biodiversity loss through species extinction in many areas of tropical Latin America.
- Changes to South America's altitudinal zonation climate pattern along the Andes will alter where, when, and what types of agriculture can be practiced.
- Productivity of some important crops is projected to decrease, and livestock productivity is expected to decline, with adverse consequences for food security.
- On the plus side, in temperate zones, soybean yields are projected to increase (Brazil, for example, is one of the world's leading producers and exporters of soybeans).
- Changes in precipitation patterns and the disappearance of glaciers are projected to significantly affect water availability for human consumption, agriculture and energy generation.
X. North America: particularly eastern US, northern Canada, Greenland
- Warming in western mountains of the U.S. and Canada is projected to cause decreased snowpack, more winter flooding and reduced summer flows, increasing competition for scarce water resources, and impacting recreation and tourism.
- Warming in polar Canada leads to reductions in thickness and extent ice sheets and sea ice, and changes in natural ecosystems, with detrimental effects on many organisms including migratory birds, mammals (such as polar bears), and higher predators.
- For human communities in the Arctic, impacts, particularly those resulting from changing snow and ice conditions, are projected to be mixed. Detrimental impacts could include infrastructure ("Ice Road Truckers") and indigenous ways of life.
- Moderate climate change is projected to increase overall yields of rain-fed agriculture by 5 to 20%, but with important variability among regions.
- Major challenges are projected for crops that are already near the warm end of their suitable range or which depend on irrigation.
- Cities that currently experience heat waves are expected to experience an increased number, intensity, and duration of heat waves, with potential for adverse health impacts (impoverished communities being the most vulnerable).
- Coastal communities and habitats will be increasingly stressed by climate change impacts interacting with development and pollution.
- Coastal communities may become more vulnerable to natural hazards, such as the impact of hurricanes along the Eastern Seaboard and Gulf Coast, due to sea level rise.
Step 4 Use EdGCM and EVA to Investigate Further
Choose another region and the climate change impact of your choice. Present your findings to the class. Why is climate change a truly global problem?
As a class discuss this issue and compare your findings to that in the IPCC impacts report.