One day can be hot and cloudy, the next cold and sunny – these day to day changes are the weather. One day it’s windy, the next it’s raining, the day after that it’s windy and raining then we might get some sunshine. So, weather is always changing. But now we regularly hear about climate change. Climate reflects long-term weather patterns, so when we talk about climate change, we’re talking about long-term changes to the weather. Over decades and centuries, climate changes – places become drier, wetter, hotter or colder.
Our climate is changing, both naturally and due to human exploitation. There is already undeniable evidence that animals, birds and plants are being affected by climate change and global warming in both their distribution and behavior.
Climate variability and change affects birdlife and animals in a number of ways:
Birds lay eggs earlier in the year than usual, plants bloom earlier and mammals are come out of hibernation sooner. Birds are migrating and arriving at their nesting grounds earlier, and the nesting grounds that they are moving to are not as far away as they used to be and in some countries the birds don’t even leave anymore, as the climate is suitable all year round.
Many people know that climate change is causing Arctic sea ice to melt, which in turn threatens polar bears who need the ice to hunt for their prey. They spend far more time at sea than it does on land. Polar bears today are thinner and less healthy than those of 20 years ago.
Although it is thought that no species has yet become extinct exclusively because of climate change, many migratory and non-migratory species are expected to become extinct in the near future.