Animals and the Climate

Animal scientists, called zoologists, study animal habitats and populations as well as behaviour. They observe the implications of changing conditions. If climate conditions change, animals might face changes to their food, water, and other resources. For example, if plants and animals die during a drought, it will impact the lives of other animals that feed on them.

When the habitat changes, some animals migrate, some move, some adapt, some die, some thrive, and some change their behaviour. For example, animals may look for different food and prey that they would not usually eat if their usual prey moves out of the region or if the vegetation changes.

Climate and environmental scientists study the implications of climate change. They agree that the Earth’s surface temperature has increased more the 1C (one degree Celsius) over the last 100 years.

How do scientists know that the world is getting warmer?

Climate scientists, called climatologists, use many indicators to understand changing conditions. Indicators are like signs that indicate possible change – positive change, negative change, or no change. Climatologists observe the atmosphere on land and oceans.

Climatologists use ten main indicators (signs) to determine whether the world is getting warmer. They measure the signs at regular intervals, over many years, to determine whether temperatures and conditions are changing. 

The ten main signs that the world is getting warmer are:

  1. Increasing air temperature near the Earth’s surface (troposphere)
  2. Increasing temperature over land 
  3. Increasing temperature over the ocean
  4. Increasing sea surface temperature 
  5. Increasing ocean heat content (in the ocean)
  6. Increasing humidity (the amount of moisture in the air)
  7. Increasing sea levels
  8. Decreasing glaciers
  9. Decreasing snow cover
  10. Decreasing sea ice.

Increasing temperatures affect weather through many ways: by warming ocean temperatures, increasing ocean acidification, melting ice at polar regions, rising sea levels, and increasing intense weather events (such as hurricanes, floods, wild fires etc.)

When zoologists study animals, they also observe the weather and get information from climatologists. 

Photographer: Martina Nicolls


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