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Understanding Climate Change

Future Global Warming Impacts, by Region

From Global Warming to Regional Effects | Impacts on Natural Systems | Global Warming FAQs | Multimedia Gallery

Details on each region are listed below | View interactive version

This printable text version lists potential impacts of climate change, based on a region-by-region analysis by IPCC Working Group II. A more complete description of these and other regional impacts can be found in the April 6, 2007, Summary for Policymakers from Working Group II, available on the main IPCC Web page. The IPCC has assigned "high confidence" to these projected impacts unless otherwise stated. It is important to note that some impacts are due to climate change intersecting with other stressors, such as population growth, political and socioeconomic conditions, and the like, as described in the Working Group II Summary for Policymakers. (©UCAR. News media terms of use*)

The interactive version, linking impacts to regions around the globe, is available here.

 

Africa

  • Increased water stress for 75–250 million people by 2020
  • Loss of arable land, reduced growing seasons, and reduced yields in some areas
  • Threats to low-lying coastal areas posed by sea-level rise
  • Further degradation of mangroves and coral reefs
  • Decreased fish stocks in large lakes

 

Asia

  • Increases in flooding, rock avalanches, and water resource disruption due to glacial melt from Himalayas (medium confidence)
  • Increased flooding of coastal areas in southern and eastern Asia
  • Ongoing risk of hunger due to regional variations in crop productivity, combined with rapid population growth and urbanization, in several developing countries (medium confidence)
  • Development challenges due to the mix of climate change impacts, growing economies and populations, and rural-to-urban migration

 

Australia and New Zealand

  • Intensified water security problems in southern and eastern Australia and parts of New Zealand, by 2030
  • Further loss of biodiversity in ecologically rich sites, by 2020 (very high confidence)
  • Increased risk from sea-level rise, more-severe and more-frequent storms, and coastal flooding in the Cairns region and southeast Queensland (Australia), Northland to Bay of Plenty (New Zealand), and other coastal communities with ongoing development and population growth, by 2050 (very high confidence)
  • Some initial benefits in western and southern New Zealand, such as longer growing seasons, less frost, and increased rainfall
  • Decreased yields from agriculture and forestry by 2030, due to increased drought and fire, in much of southern and eastern Australia and parts of eastern New Zealand

 

Europe

  • Increased risk of inland flash floods (very high confidence)
  • More frequent coastal flooding and increased erosion due to storms and sea-level rise (very high confidence)
  • South: More health-threatening heat waves and wildfires, reduced water availability and hydropower potential, endangered crop production, reduced summer tourism
  • Central and East: More health-threatening heat waves, reduced summer rainfall, reduced forest productivity, more peatland fires
  • North: Initial mixed effects, including benefits such as reduced heating demand, increased crop yields, and increased forest growth; as climate change continues, negative impacts likely to outweigh benefits

 

Latin America

  • Gradual replacement of tropical forest by savanna in eastern Amazonia, due to higher temperatures and reduced soil moisture
  • Replacement of semi-arid vegetation by arid-land vegetation
  • Species extinctions in many tropical areas
  • Loss of arable land in drier areas due to increased salinity and desertification
  • Decreased yields of some important crops
  • Reduced livestock productivity
  • Increased soybean yields in temperate zones
  • Increased risk of flooding in low-lying areas, due to sea-level rise
  • Adverse effects on coral reefs
  • Shifts in the location of southeast Pacific fish stocks
  • Stress on water availability due to precipitation changes and disappearing glaciers

 

North America

  • Western mountains: decreased snowpack, more winter flooding, and reduced summer flows (very high confidence)
  • Increasing impacts on forests due to pests, diseases, and fire, with an extended period of high fire risk and large increases in area burned (very high confidence)
  • In early decades of the century, during moderate climate change, 5–20% increase in total agriculatural yields, with important regional variations; major challenges for crops with limited access to water or those near the warm end of their suitable range
  • Increased intensity, duration, and number of heat waves in cities historically prone to them; the elderly, whose proportion of the U.S. population is increasing, are most at risk (very high confidence)
  • Coastal areas: increased stress on people and property, due to climate change impacts interacting with development and pollution (very high confidence)

 

Polar regions

  • Thinning and reduced extent of glaciers and ice sheets
  • Deeper seasonal thawing of permafrost
  • Detrimental effects on migratory birds, mammals, higher predators, and other species, due to changes in natural ecosystems
  • Changes in the extent of Arctic sea ice and permafrost
  • Negative impacts on Arctic society: infrastructure (such as roads, buildings and utility lines) and traditional ways of life
  • Positive impacts on Arctic society: reduced heating costs and more navigable sea routes (medium confidence)

 

Small islands

  • Threats to vital infrastructure, settlements, and facilities due to sea-level rise (very high confidence)
  • Reduced water resources on many small islands by mid-century, jeopardizing access to fresh water during dry periods (very high confidence)
  • Fisheries impacts and reduced tourism value, due to beach erosion, coral bleaching, and other deteriorating coastal conditions (very high confidence)
  • Invasion by non-native species with higher temperatures, especially on middle and high-latitude islands.


*News media terms of use: Reproduction to illustrate this story and nonprofit use permitted with proper attribution as provided above and acceptance of UCAR's terms of use. Find more images in the UCAR Digital Image Library.

The University Corporation for Atmospheric Research manages the National Center for Atmospheric Research under sponsorship by the National Science Foundation. Any opinions, findings and conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation.

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