Doomed Animals – Animal Extinction: An Effect of Climate Change

  • Polar bears
  • Snow Leopards
  • Penguins
  • Tigers
  • Sea Turtles
  • African and Asian Elephants
  • Mountain Gorillas
  • Caribou and Reindeer
  • Oxen
  • Cold-water Fish
  • Seabirds
  • Possums
  • Pikas
  • Frogs
Changes in Ocean Currents
Climate change will have a negative impact on ocean currents. Background: Warm water rises because it is less dense. However, in the Arctic, warm water melts the ice and it becomes cold water. This colder, denser water sinks down to the bottom. Because it is now at the bottom of the ocean, it pushes the other cold water away, creating ocean currents.
Climate change is causing the ice to melt. That means a lot of bad things for animals, but it also means there is nothing, or less ice, for the warm water to melt. If there is nothing for the warm water to melt, there isn't new cold water to go down the bottom and pushing old cold water out of the way, therefore changing, lessening, and in some cases could even end deep-sea currents. Many animals need deep sea currents to get nutrients from other parts of the world and through other deep-sea cycles.
Polar Bears
Polar bears need ice to survive, and the ice they live on will melt due to a warming earth. In addition, polar bears mainly hunt seals, which are almost impossible to hunt in the water, because of the seals' agility in the water. Therefore, they need to hunt the seals on ice, which is being depleted.
Snow Leopards
Snow leopards need snow and ice to survive, and both of which are being destroyed by climate change. They are also susceptible to indirect impacts of climate change, such as habitat destruction by climate change as a result of changing conditions in the region. With their habitat taken away, most of their prey will migrate away permanently. With the suddenness of climate change and the scarcity of food, the snow leopard will not have enough time to evolve before the species will die out. They are currently endangered in the first place. Climate change will change their status to extinct.
Like the polar bears and the snow leopard, penguins rely on ice. It is pretty self-explanatory: they spend their time nesting and living on the ice, and without it, they can’t adapt to the water so fast. Not only that, but most of the fish they eat will also be affected and go extinct, getting rid of the penguin’s food.
The tiger’s habitat is going to be destroyed by climate change. There are only about 3,200 of the species left in the wild. Even a bit of destroyed habitat can destroy the species. An expected sea level rise of 11 inches above 2000 levels may cause the remaining tiger habitat in the Sundarbans to decline by 96 percent, pushing the total population to fewer than 20 breeding tigers. Unless immediate action is taken, the Sundarbans' tigers may disappear within 50 to 90 years.
Sea Turtles
Sea Turtles dwell in the ocean. With warming sea temperatures, the climate in the ocean will be warmer. Unfortunately, sea turtles are very sensitive to changes in temperature and climate. The drastic change in temperature can upset the life of sea turtles. Also, sea level rise upsets the breeding places of sea turtles. Sea turtles are born with a knowledge of how to get to the breeding site. If that breeding site is flooded, they will not be able to breed and the species will go extinct. Climate change also affects coral reefs, which are a safe haven for sea turtles to hide from predators.
Asian and African Elephants
These elephants are also sensitive to sudden changes in climate and become more prone to disease. They can’t adapt to major changes in temperature, so they will die off like green sea turtles. In addition, there will not be enough vegetation for the entire elephant population.
Mountain Gorillas
Their population is very small and their range highly restricted. A limited migration ability (due to human settlements), coupled with long generation time, a low reproductive rate, and low amounts of genetic variation, will limit the ability of the species to adapt to a changing climate. This means they can’t adapt to climate and ultimately will meet the same fate of the rest of the creatures listed on this page.
Caribou and reindeer
These type of animals can't adapt to climate change. Global warming will most harm the animals adapted to the coldest environments, primarily those accustomed to life in the Arctic. This is also because they are made for the snow and cold. They have thick coats of fur that keep them warm, but they won’t, like other animals, have time to evolve to the newly warm environments.
Oxen are large mammals that have been around since well before the last ice age. They are adapted to live in the coldest of habitats, and they will be significantly endangered as climate change shrinks their distribution ranges.
Cold Water Fish
As water temperatures rise, fish like trout and salmon will find fewer places habitable. Even a small increase in temperature can be fatal to many fish species.
As fish move north in search of cooler waters, animals that rely on fish for sustenance are left without many options. This group includes seabirds like the Atlantic puffin, the tufted puffin in the North Pacific, and the rhinoceros auklet. Seabirds that rely on plankton are also struggling to find food. Warm surface temperatures and upwellings and downwellings cause the plankton to descend to lower depths, out of reach of surface-feeders
In addition to arctic animals, species that reside on mountaintops are also experiencing the effects of warming. In fact, tree possums that reside in high elevations are particularly in danger.
Pikas are very sensitive to changes in temperature. Brief exposures to temperatures higher than 77.9 degrees Fahrenheit can lead to death.
Amphibians have very thin skin and are cold-blooded. These characteristics mean even minor changes in temperature have a major impact on their well-being. Most of the harlequin frog species found in South America are listed as endangered or critically endangered. A large factor is the loss of habitat to pollution and the disappearance of rainforest. Another major cause for concern is that a fungus that wiped out entire frog populations in the past is thriving as a result of climate change.

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