Water and Climate Change
Over the course of the past decade, the increase of greenhouse gases due to anthropogenic influences has sparked many concerns regarding global climate change and the effects it may have on our daily lives. According to a report that the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change published in late 2007, water impacts caused by climate changes will be “one of the greatest concerns California will have to worry about as a result of global warming.”(IPCC,2007)The severity of the consequences of this dilemma is already noticeable in many areas across the west coast. This can be seen in the recent report published by the California Department of Water Resources which stated that snowpack water was only at seventeen percent of normal levels this year (DWR). Such stark changes occurring in our in climate mark this as a critical time in history, when it is more crucial than ever before to sustain and manage our water resources. Human activities have accelerated the pace of global warming by increasing the concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, altering the global nitrogen cycle, and converting ecosystems to serve human purposes. Elevated levels of atmospheric carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases have led to reduced nutrient concentrations in plant tissues, forcing herbivores to “consume more tissue to acquire sufficient protein and other nutrients for growth and development” while suffering “higher mortality in the process” (Vitousek 1994). Consequently, decomposers “encounter lower quality tissue” which leads to repercussions in “their own populations and in ecosystem-level nutrient cycling” (Vitousek). An ecosystem’s responsiveness to these elevated levels of carbon dioxide is affected by the quantity of nitrogen, a limiting nutrient, that is available. The nitrogen cycle has been modified by human activities to the extent that “more nitrogen is fixed annually by human-driven processes” than by natural processes (Vitousek)....
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