The Earth’s climate experiences change throughout the whole period of the planet’s existence, but the process rapidly accelerated within the last two centuries. The abnormal increase in temperatures is called global warming, and 95% of it results from human activities like manufacturing and the broad utilization of greenhouse gases (NASA, 2020). The severe consequences of climate change impact all ecosystems, and one of the most affected is freshwater. Only 3% of the water on Earth is defined as fresh, flowing in lakes, rivers, wetlands, and groundwater, and it is vital for all species’ survival (WWF, 2020). This paper aims to analyze the impact of climate change on freshwater and determine the solutions to the concomitant environmental issues.
Climate change causes multiple conditions uncommon for the Earth’s normal ecosystems’ functionality. Shrinking ice sheets, glacial retreat, sea-level rise, ocean acidification, and extreme weather disasters – all of these outcomes lead the planet to catastrophic events and drain its natural sources (NASA, 2020). For example, the sea level rises because of adding water from melting ice sheets and increasing seawater volume as it warms due to the world’s temperature increase (NASA, 2020). The cycle of water’s change from solid to liquid is disrupted as the Earth heats up in response to humanity’s increasing carbon dioxide utilization (Şen, 2020). Climate change has to be addressed as the most urgent problem for each ecosystem separately as they require different treatment.
Freshwater is a vital resource, and its systems are seriously damaged by abnormal modifications in the Earth’s climate. Today, many wetlands have already been drained or polluted, leading marine species to disappear, and more than a billion people experience a lack of access to clean water (WWF, 2020). The impact of climate change on freshwater can be identified in precipitation shifts, an increase in extreme weather events, the rise of sea levels, and ice melting speed-up.
Changes in precipitation are being registered for the last few decades, and while mid-high latitudes receive an unusually high volume of rain or snow, tropical and subtropical parts experience a lack of water fallout. Konapala et al. (2020) state that “accessibility of water resources for human consumption and ecosystems largely depends on the Spatio-temporal distribution of both precipitation and evaporation” (p. 2).
The regions that vastly utilize carbon dioxide and increase the emission force the warming, leading to more rains and disrupting the natural hydration fallout cycle. Another impact of climate change on unsalted water ecosystems is the increased frequency of extreme weather events. Storms, heats, unusual freezing, floods, and droughts cause shifts in water level dynamics and cycles in different regions and increase freshwater vulnerability (Boojhawon & Surroop, 2020). Freshwater from precipitation and climatic events should be received in the balance as too much of it is the same dangerous for species’ life, harvest, and land quality.
The rise of sea levels worldwide appears due to climate change and is caused by warming and oceans’ expansion. Rivers, lakes, and wetlands are connected to seas, thus climate change impacts freshwater systems by causing water pollution. Moreover, people build barriers to eliminate the damage from rising sea levels, and it disrupts the natural flows that lead to lower accessibility and quality of water (WWF, 2020).
One of the most severe consequences of global warming is ice and glaciers’ melting. NASA (2020) states that “carbon dioxide from human activity is increasing melting more than 250 times faster than it did from natural sources after the last Ice Age” (para. 5). The extreme acceleration in melting speed leads the Earth to oceans’ overload, changes water’s chemical content, and might cause clear water to disappear completely.
The impact of climate change on freshwater is significant, and it is crucial to minimize it before the life-threatening consequences appear. The practical approaches to reducing the climate change impact might be upgrading drainage systems and sustainable water protection. Social strategies can include educational and charity campaigns to increase awareness about the urgent issue and encourage people to decrease the damage (Şen, 2020). Although the damage decrease is not a solution, activities that prevent disruption to freshwater systems allow humanity to support its longevity.
To eliminate threats for freshwater systems, the root causes of climate change problems must be solved, or their impact is reduced. The main reason for global warming is that humans began to apply malicious fuels in transportation and manufacturing, leading to major carbon dioxide emissions. The essential strategy to reduce climate change speed is to implement alternative ways to get energy, and modern companies already utilize solar and wind power and build electric vehicles that do not process greenhouse gases (John et al., 2020). Planting more trees can also become a solution as the forests would clean the air and cool down climate change (John et al., 2020). These solutions might help freshwater return to its natural cycles, save its quality, and increase availability.
Climate change severely impacts the environment, and human activities are the reason for that unconventional damage. Freshwater is one of the systems affected as climatic modifications cause global warming that leads ice to melt, sea levels to increase, precipitation cycles to damage, and extreme weather events to appear. People must establish sustainable practices and reduce climate change’s influence to save water resources as they are essential for most species’ survival.
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John, A., Horne, A., Nathan, R., Stewardson, M., Webb, J. A., Wang, J., & Poff, N. L. (2020). Climate change and freshwater ecology: Hydrological and ecological methods of comparable complexity are needed to predict risk. Wiley Interdisciplinary Reviews: Climate Change, e692. Web.
Konapala, G., Mishra, A. K., Wada, Y., & Mann, M. E. (2020). Climate change will affect global water availability through compounding changes in seasonal precipitation and evaporation. Nature Communications, 11(1), 1-10. Web.
NASA. (2020). Global climate change. Web.
Şen, Z. (2020). Water structures and climate change impact: A review. Water Resources Management, 34(13), 4197-4216. Web.
WWF. (2020). Freshwater systems. Web.