15 Unexpected Effects Of Climate Change

Voting Rules

Vote up the effects you didn't expect from a rising global climate.

Global temperatures are on the rise, which is why there's so much discussion and documentaries about what the future holds. While some people are still skeptical of global warming, many studies have been done, including one from NASA, to prove that the temperatures are gradually rising year after year. The temperatures recorded in 2020 are far higher than the ones recorded in 1880.

Yet, there are a lot of unexpected results of these rising temperatures, specifically for the plants and animals on this planet. Some effects may end up benefitting us while others will make life harder. Either way, studies show that these unusual events are all linked to climate change in some way.

Photo: Luisontiveros / Wikimedia Commons / CC-BY-SA 3.0

  • 1
    29 VOTES

    Jellyfish Populations Are Rapidly Growing

    Jellyfish populations are on the rise, killing thousands of fish and stinging more people at beach resorts. Jellyfish expert Lisa-Ann Gershwin says it's because the planet is now giving jellyfish the conditions they need to thrive. She explains:

    We're giving jellyfish exactly the conditions they need to do really well. So, we're giving them warmer water, we're giving them a lack of predators and competitors. We're taking out their fish… So, it's our fault, not their fault, but they're the visible indicator that something in the ocean is out of balance.

    Gershwin adds that it may be too late to stop the warming oceans and jellyfish bloom altogether, but it's possible to slow it down to protect humans and wildlife.

    29 votes
  • 2
    7 VOTES

    Increased Pollen Count Is Worsening People's Allergies

    Researcher Leonard Bielory studied the effect of global warming on pollen counts, and the results aren't great for people with seasonal allergies. Bielory simulated various temperatures and found that higher temperatures lead to longer blooming seasons of allergy-causing plants like ragweed.

    In 2000, the average pollen count was around 8,455 grains per cubic meter in the air, but by 2040, it's expected to reach 21,735 grains per cubic meter. Bielory explains:

    In 2000, annual pollen production began on April 14, and peaked on May 1. Pollen levels are predicted to peak earlier, on April 8, 2040.

    7 votes
  • 3
    26 VOTES

    Trees Are Growing Faster

    Professor Hans Pretzsch from Technical University of Munich ran a study that observed the growth rate of trees from 1870 to the present day. The development of trees has changed very little over the years, but the rate of development has increased by up to 70%, especially in recent years. The type of tree has an effect on the growth rate, with beech trees growing 77% faster than in 1960 and spruce trees growing 32% faster.

    The scientists in the study concluded that rising temperatures and longer growth seasons are the reason for these rapid rates. Other factors, like carbon dioxide and nitrogen, may also contribute to this change. Forests do not appear different as a result, but it will take less time to grow certain types of trees.

    26 votes
  • Mosquito Populations Are Migrating Greater Distances
    Photo: Jim Gathany / Wikimedia Commons / Public domain
    45 VOTES

    Mosquito Populations Are Migrating Greater Distances

    Global warming has benefitted mosquitos, ticks, and other disease-carrying invertebrates in many ways. Hotter and wetter weather in Europe has allowed Asian tiger mosquitos (Aedes albopictus) to breed and travel across larger regions. These insects have adapted to new seasons and entered new areas of Europe in the past decade.

    The more temperatures rise, the more favorable they'll be to these pests. Sadly, this also means an increase in the dangerous diseases mosquitos and ticks can carry, such as chikungunya, dengue fever, leishmaniasis, and tick-borne encephalitis. Dr Giovanni Rezza, Director of the Department of Infectious Diseases at the Istituto Superiore di Sanitá in Rome, Italy, said:

    The stark reality is that longer hot seasons will enlarge the seasonal window for the potential spread of vector-borne diseases and favour larger outbreaks. We must be prepared to deal with these tropical infections.

    45 votes
  • 5
    30 VOTES

    In The Past, A Rise In Temperature Has Correlated With Increased Volcanic Activity

    Over the years, Earth has gone through many extremes of both high and low temperatures. Scientists studied volcanoes on Iceland from thousands of years ago to see how temperature affected the volcano eruptions. As temperatures rose, study author Graeme Swindles saw more volcanic activity in Iceland than in years prior.

    When the temperature rises, the glaciers expand and put more pressure on the volcanoes. Swindles explained:

    It can affect magma flow and the voids and gaps in the Earth where magma flows to the surface as well as how much magma the crust can actually hold. After glaciers are removed the surface pressure decreases, and the magmas more easily propagate to the surface and thus erupt.

    It's unclear if modern-day climate change will effect all volcanoes in this way, but it's possible.

    30 votes
  • 6
    41 VOTES

    More Female Reptiles Are Being Born Than Males

    Temperature can have a significant impact on the sex of some reptiles. For example, the central bearded dragon in Australia is more often born female at higher temperatures and male at lower temperatures. If a temperature reaches 96.8 degrees Fahrenheit while a male egg is developing, it can turn into a female lizard before it hatches. 

    Researchers tested this concept (known as “sex reversal”) with a group of bearded dragons hatching naturally. Samples from 131 wild-caught bearded dragons showed that 11 of them turned from male to female during incubation. It was the first time sex reversal had occurred naturally in the wild. The percentage of sex-reversed eggs increased each year this study was conducted, likely due to global warming. The sex-reversed females were fertile, and studies suggest they might produce more eggs than other females.

    41 votes