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What are the Effects of Global Warming in the Caribbean?

written by: Raunekk•edited by: Sarah Malburg•updated: 3/16/2010

The increase of global warming is largely affecting the Caribbean Islands. An attractive tourist destination, the Caribbean is facing the brunt of rising atmospheric temperature and sea water levels. Find out more as to how global warming is threatening the mere survival of the Caribbean.

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    The Caribbean is one of the most beautiful places on Earth. However, it is also one of the most badly hit by the rise of global warming. Global warming is taking the entire world by storm, especially smaller islands and low lying areas like in the Caribbean, which are drastically being affected by increasing carbon dioxide, rising sea levels and other consequences as well. The sudden climate changes in the region are leading to adverse effects on the Caribbean’s charming beaches, coral reefs, orchards, marine life, and local flora and fauna.

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    Destruction of Corals

    The effect of global warming in the Caribbean was first felt in the year 2005 when a hurricane destroyed nearly half of the Caribbean’s coral reefs. Unfortunately, that was just the beginning. Researchers and scientists predict that if the atmospheric temperature continues to rise on the current scale, such hurricanes would become a common thing in the region. The rising high temperature has also resulted in bleaching, a phenomenon wherein the corals lose their symbiotic algae, which is extremely important for coral’s survival. Gradually, the reefs lose their color, becoming vulnerable to death from hunger or diseases. Coral reefs are an integral component of the Caribbean sea and its ecosystem. Scientists say that destruction of coral reefs in the Caribbean will also play an integral part in producing adverse effects such as storms, hurricanes, and slow death of marine life in the future.

    Moreover, in a recent finding, scientists have discovered a rare outbreak of algae that erupts in warm temperature, which has further caused problems for coral reefs. The ph level of water in the Caribbean is also decreasing which has caused ocean acidification, endangering fisheries and food supply in the region.

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    Diminishing Islands

    It is becoming rather difficult to estimate the total consequences of climate shift in the Caribbean region. Famine, hurricanes, and storms have become a common thing as of late, due to the drastic changes in weather. Scientists predict that the regions around the equator will be the worst hit, if the current drift continues. Changes in hydro-cycle and rainfall patterns will harm the agriculture of this area, as both short supply and floods have serious repercussions. Some parts of the Caribbean have already started merging with the ocean and there are predictions that more land will be destroyed in the coming years, including total diminishing of the smaller islands. Soil degradation has also deserted much of the land in the region and has led to deforestation and changing patterns of crop-growing seasons.

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    Disappearing of Rare Species and Loss of Tourism

    The most depressing consequence of global warming, however, is the gradual disappearance of exclusive species from the Caribbean Islands. Both migratory as well as resident birds have been seen facing loss of habitat. Also, illegal hunting, increasing population, rising sea levels, and deforestation have set challenges for both terrestrial and marine life. There is a dearth of space for these native animals and birds to escape to, as the problems have engulfed the entire Caribbean region. The Islands are also slowly disappearing from the lists of tourists and fast appearing on those of scientists instead. One of the major earnings of this island comes from the tourism sector, which is now drastically diminishing.

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    Increase of Drought Conditions

    Due to the rising temperatures, the Caribbean is also facing a great threat from the rising drought conditions, especially in the summers. This has lead to water shortage on several islands. The rising of ocean water level has also resulted in the increase in salinity of coastal aquifers, reducing the availability of fresh water through wells and springs. Also, the coastal mangroves and wetlands, which protect the coastlines of many Caribbean Islands from storms and floods, are disappearing by the rising sea water level. This poses an increasing threat to the vital infrastructure, settlements, and facilities on the islands.

    Thus, the entire Caribbean ecosystem is at risk due to global warming and it has all come down to unchecked activities in the region. Rising temperature and carbon dioxide are not only harming coral reefs, marine life, and native animals, but they are also harming the humans that inhabit the area. The problem with global warming is, ultimately trying to persuade the people in the Caribbean to change their lifestyle. If they don't, the effects of global warming in their beloved Caribbean region will ever cease.

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