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Effects of Global Warming

2002-5-9

This is the VOA SpecialEnglish ENVIRONMENT REPORT.

Scientists say the warming of the Earth's atmosphere has begun toaffect plant and animal life around the world. Scientists from theUniversity of Hanover in Germany reported their findings in thepublication Nature. They say global warming is affecting endangeredspecies, sea life and the change in seasonal activities oforganisms. Global warming is caused by carbon dioxide and otherheat-trapping gases in the atmosphere.

Studies show that the Earth'sclimate has warmed by about six-tenths of one degree Celsius duringthe past one-hundred years. Most of the increase has taken place inthe last thirty years.

The German scientists studied different animal and plantpopulations around the world in the past thirty years. They say somespecies will disappear because they can not move to new areas whentheir home climate gets too warm.

The scientists say one of the biggest signs of climate change hasbeen the worldwide reduction in coral reefs. Rising temperatures inthe world's warm ocean waters have caused coral to lose color anddie.

In the coldest areas of the world, winter freezing periods arenow happening later and ending earlier. Researchers say thesechanges are having severe effects on animals such as penguins, sealsand polar bears.

Changes in temperature and wetness in the air can also affect thereproduction of some reptiles and amphibians. For example, the sexof baby painted turtles is linked to the average temperature inJuly. Scientists say even small temperature increases can threatenthe production of male turtles.

In Europe, scientists say warmer temperatures are affecting thespring and autumn seasons. This is affecting the growth of plantsand delaying the flight of birds from one place to another.

Scientists are concerned about invasions of warm weather speciesinto traditionally colder areas. Rising temperatures have beenlinked with diseases spread by mosquito insects in areas of Asia,East Africa and Latin America.

Britain's Meteorological Office says worldwide temperatures willcontinue to rise during the next one-hundred years. It says how muchtemperatures increase will depend on the success of worldwidepolicies designed to slow global warming.

This VOA Special English ENVIRONMENT REPORT was written byCynthia Kirk.