What really happens to the climate – part 2

Due to the record warm summer that has been in Europe, the environmental and climate issues have become even more relevant. There are many who say that heat warnings, forest fires and droughts are no longer a coincidence, but something we will need to get used to. Climate change and rising of the Earth’s average temperature implies a risk that the planet we live on will change significantly over time, although we do not yet know in what way exactly.

In the previous article of this article series we picked up on jet streams. Something that may change due to the rise in temperature is that the jet currents become unstable and their patterns of movement change – and perhaps this was the cause of the heat wave this year. A southern jet stream parked on unusual northern latitudes, and for an unusually long time. As a result, hot air could now flow to the south from the outside, as cooler air was forced out. In this article, we will look into more effects of increasing temperatures.

Ocean currents

Earth’s average temperature has already increased by about half a degree, but here, in colder latitudes in the Northern part of the world, people may think that this increase is so small, that it’s laughable. We may instead welcome the heat and see the mild winters and sunny summers as something positive. But even if you’re one of those people, who doesn’t fear all the reports of elevated temperatures, it’s time to stop and think about it! There is an imminent risk that the rise in temperature will cause the large currents of the sea to rub and end up in imbalance. And this also applies to the Gulf stream. We actually have the Gulf Stream to thank for the relatively warm climate we have in the Nordic region – the climate here would be considerably colder otherwise. And if the gulf stream is disturbed there is a risk that Sweden will get extremely cold, even though the average temperature of the earth continues to increase. The small temperature increase we are experiencing right now can, therefore, be very abruptly reversed by biting cold.

Methane from the seabed

Methane is a powerful greenhouse gas that strongly contributes to the greenhouse effect. The gas occurs naturally in nature and is released into the atmosphere through meat industry. But there are also large amounts of methane stored in the soil under the ocean, especially in the Arctic, which accumulated during the permafrost. One major problem with the temperatures increasing is that the permafrost is likely to melt – and then huge amounts of methane would be released. If this happens, we face a potential domino effect where the gas leads to further temperature increases with serious consequences.

Melting ice and forest death

Something that is often discussed in the media is melting ice and glaciers. And this is definitely something we should be worried about. Melting ice and glaciers lead to elevated sea levels, which eventually will threaten several of the world’s coastal cities. Should temperature increases escalate quickly, and sea levels rise accordingly, there is a risk that several cities will become uninhabitable.

And it’s not just the release of stored methane that could give a huge boost to the greenhouse effect – even the world’s forests are threatened by the rise in temperature. The world’s forests are needed to take care of carbon dioxide emissions and convert them to oxygen. If the forests start to slowly die, more and more carbon dioxide will be stored in the atmosphere and aggravate the greenhouse effect further. Both the world’s rain forests and the forests in the coniferous belt are threatened. Something we have seen here in Europe this summer, where fires and droughts have hit very hard.