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6 Unexpected Effects of Climate Change

  • Surprising effects

    sea ice
    CREDIT: Evgeny Kovalev spb | Shutterstock Sea Ice
    As sea ice melts at the poles, increasingly more sunlight hits the seafloor. This allows algae to thrive in ecosystems once dominated by invertebrates.
  • Desert bacteria dies

    these desert lands are commonly found a specialized community of lichen, algae, moss, fungus and cyanobacteria
    CREDIT: Linda & Dr. Dick Buscher Anything but void
    Visitors to the arid regions of the world often first see an area that seems to be almost void of life. Yet here in these desert lands are commonly found a specialized community of lichen, algae, moss, fungus and cyanobacteria that are referred to as cryptobiotic soil or "soil crust." These living organisms literally bind the loose desert soil together, preventing erosion and aiding in the retention of life-sustaining moisture.
  • Volcanic eruptions explode

    lava eruption
    CREDIT: U.S. Geological Survey Hawaii Volcano Observatory volcano, lava
    Rapid global warming has caused an increase in volcanic eruptions in the past, a new study finds
  • Oceans darken

    CREDIT: Robert Reinlund Crown jellyfish
    The crown jellyfish is solitary and prefers the dark. Common at great depths in all the world's oceans, it is now thriving in the changed habitat of Lurefjorden in extremely high concentrations.
  • Allergies worsen

    CREDIT: Allergy Relief Really Is Possible
    A man blows his nose.
  • Ant invasions slow

    Map of potential big-headed ant habitat
    CREDIT: Bertelsmeier et. al./Biological Invasions Ant Distribution Map
    These maps compare the potentially suitable habitat ranges of the invasive big-headed ant from low (light red) to high (dark red) under current climate conditions (a) and in the future under global warming (b).
  • Sunlight floods polar seafloor

    sponges and fan worms
    CREDIT: Graeme Clark, The University of New South Wales Sponges
    Fan worms (turquoise) and sponges (orange) currently dominate the underwater ecosystem under the sea ice in East Antarctica, but could be lost with an increase in sunlight reaching them.

Along with its anxiety-inducing effects, climate change also offers an interesting opportunity to consider fascinating, interconnected processes on Earth. The smallest to the largest components of the planet – from bacteria to volcanoes – all somehow feel the effects of a changing climate. Here are six of the most unexpected ways climate change impacts Earth.

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