Image Credit: Flickr user (HD Image) barto
Another piece of the puzzle that is climate change has been identified, and it is disturbing as rainfall patterns will challenge the most ecologically diverse but sensitive eco-systems on the planet. A new study published in the Journal Nature found that increases of rainfall in the wettest areas of the tropics are due to violent expressions of deep, moist convection. The tropics climate, and particularly micro-climates, will be impacted very negatively by the rapid changes in Earth's airstreams. Most life in the tropics can not adapt to any slight change in their environment fast enough to avoid extinction. Many areas of the tropics will become dryer, the Amazon rainforest for example, is expected over time to transition to savannah for a myriad of reasons.
Increased Rainfall in Tropics Caused by More Frequent Big Storms
Many scientists have long thought that in a warming world some regions are likely to see more rain because a warmer atmosphere is capable of holding more water vapor. The idea seemed to be supported by recent observations showing strong precipitation increases in the wettest tropical regions, sometimes referred to as a 'rich-get-richer' pattern.
Joint research from the Australian Research Council Centre of Excellence for Climate System Science (ARCCSS) and NASA published online in Nature today reveals that rainfall increases seen in places such as the western Pacific in recent decades are actually due to large storms – what the authors call “organized deep convection” – happening more frequently, rather than from individual storms producing more rain.
"The observations showed the increase in rainfall is directly caused by the change in the character of rain events in the tropics rather than a change in the total number of rain events," said lead author Jackson Tan, who conducted this research while at Australia’s Monash University but now works at NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility, Wallops Island, Virginia. "What we are seeing is more big and organized storms and fewer small and disorganized rain events."
The study helps chip away at one of the big questions facing climate change science: To what degree will a warmer world accelerate the water cycle and patterns of rainfall and drought?
Will the jaguar replace the polar bear as the new face of Climate Change? Tropical species have evolved in micro-climates adapting to live within a much more narrow temperature range than polar species. Once temperatures get beyond that comfort zone, many species will have a very difficult time coping in the most complex ecosystem on the planet. When it comes to tropical species affected by climate change they will only have three choices: adapt, move or become extinct.
Live Science explains:
The tropics' dire prognosis comes from their stable climate, the study authors said. Unlike their Arctic relatives, which live through massive temperature swings every summer and winter, animals and plants living close to the equator expect their homes to stay the same pretty much year-round. Just a little nudge — warmer temperatures, less rainfall — will throw these ecosystems out of whack, the study finds.
"We are not underestimating the importance of climate change at the poles, we are pointing out the fact that we have been overlooking the potential high impact that will happen at the tropics," Mora said.
"How bad are things, really? How far-reaching are the consequences if the world loses one gecko, and two mega-bats? Ecologically and agriculturally, the tropics are the most productive regions in the world. Local extinctions would snowball into widespread, disastrous collapses in ecosystems everywhere. "The vast majority of species that are going extinct are all in tropical ecosystems," Sinervo says
It's not just the South American rainforests that will soon undergo climatic shifts. Countries ringing the planet's tropical latitudes will tip over before 2030. The Bahamas (2029); Jamaica (2023); Haiti (2025); Manokwari, Indonesia (2020); and Palau (2023) are on the list. So are the African nations of Sierra Leone (2028); Cameroon (2025); Gabon (2024); and the Democratic Republic of Congo (2028).
"By 2050, between 1 [billion] and 5 billion people, depending on carbon mitigation scenarios, will live in areas undergoing unprecedented climate change," said Ryan Longman, a study co-author and graduate student at the University of Hawaii, Manoa. "The countries most impacted are ones with the least ability to respond."
is expected within the next five years and people in Europe, the United States and Russia will also suffer from devastating heat. Wright State University School of Medicine reports on how heat related illnesses
can kill you.
Problems start when your body can't keep its core temperature close to 98.6 degrees. In general, your nervous system starts working to cool you down every time your central temperature rises a couple of degrees above normal. To do that, it tries to divert blood away from your internal organs and toward your skin. Since blood carries a lot of heat, your best chance of cooling off is to get that hot stuff pumping to the surface. Meanwhile, your sweat glands start to release water, which has a cooling effect as it evaporates from the surface of the skin.
On a very hot, sticky day, you may not be able to radiate any heat from the surface of your skin, and your sweat won't evaporate fast enough to keep you cool. (You'll have an even bigger problem if you're dehydrated.) The heart responds by pumping more blood away from the internal organs. This deprives the intestines of oxygen, which damages their linings and makes them more permeable to endotoxins. (The strain on the heart can also lead to arrhythmia or cardiac arrest.) At the same time, an overheated core causes an inflammatory response throughout the body. The combination of the inflammatory response and the endotoxins in the bloodstream can suppress the body's natural mechanism for cooling down.
Once your core gets above about 104 degrees, you're in serious danger. High internal temperatures lead to increased pressure in your skull and decreased blood flow to your brain. (Doctors diagnose "heatstroke" when the heat starts to affect your central nervous system.) Damaged tissue may also enter your bloodstream and lead to kidney failure. Very high internal temperatures—like 120 degrees—can destroy the cells in your body through direct heat damage.