Climate Change Outcomes on the Environmental Ecotoxicology

Climate Change Outcomes on the Environmental Ecotoxicology

Soraia El Baz (Cadi Ayyad University, Morocco)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-7775-1.ch006


Climate change is a daunting problem and has only recently attracted attention. This chapter presents a review on the implications of climate change on the regulation, and modelling of toxic pollutants. Also, it identifies relationships between climate fluctuations and changes in some polluants distribution (heavy metals, hydrocarbons, and pesticides). Moreover, the influence of climate change on polluant environmental behavior is explored by studying polluants response to inter-annual climate fluctuations such as precipitation and temperature. Therefore, it will be important to monitor strategies taking into account climate change and new regulatory plans should be devised in toxics polluant management.
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Climate describes the long-term behaviour of the Earth, on a time scale which starts from decadal and extends to billion years (Ciardini et al., 2016). The Earth’s climate system includes the land surface, atmosphere, oceans, and ice. Many aspects of the global climate are changing rapidly, and the primary drivers of the change are human in origin (Gatto, Cabella, & Gherardi, 2016). Climate change is an increasingly urgent global problem (Stocker, 2014) and is identified as an important new challenge on the assessment of the effects of certain public and private projects on the environment (Jiricka et al., 2016). The U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has completed fifth assessments covering the evidence; impacts of climate change, and report that surface temperature is projected to rise over the 21st century. It is very likely that heat waves will occur more often and last longer, and that extreme precipitation events will become more intense and frequent in many regions. The ocean will continue to warm and acidify, and global mean sea level to rise (IPCC, 2014).

The effects of climate change are tangible and demand actions (Pielke Jr, Prins, Rayner, & Sarewitz, 2007; Klein, 2011). These actions can be mitigation, to prevent greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions or reduce their atmospheric concentration, or adaptation, to adjust to actual or expected climate and its effects (Field et al., 2014). Various authors (Peterson, McGuirk, Houston, Horvitz, & Wehner, 2008; Swart & Biesbroek, 2008; Haurie, Sceia, & Thénié, 2009) have looked at the consequences of extreme rainfall, including e.g. overloaded drainage systems and floods.

There is evidence that climate change, including increased climatic variability, can affect the individual organisms, the size and structure of their populations, the species composition of communities, and the structure and functioning of ecosystems (Portner & Knust, 2007). Climate change is a powerful advancing force (Oreskes, 2004; Carpenter et al., 2011), that can affect humans and ecosystems for years to come (Richardson et al., 2009; Mabey, Gulledge, Finel, & Silverthorne, 2011). It is likely that climate change will, impact the abiotic, biotic, and socioeconomic components of the landscape (Schneider et al., 2007) as a suite of stressors, or a syndrome (Mabey et al., 2011). The threats of environmental changes, survival and reproductive of individuals, and the survival of species and ecosystems are influenced by many directions: (1) habitat destruction, (2) disruption of food chains, (3) changes in disease and parasitic loads, (4) increased pollution and ultimately by (5) direct and indirect effects of climate change. The environmental changes can be detected at any place on the planet: from pole to pole (Moline et al., 2008; Robinson, 2009) and from ocean depths (Guinotte & Fabry, 2008) to the stratosphere (Wilson, Solomon, & Tang, 2007).

Environmental changes are expected to influence the distribution and toxicity of environmental chemicals, that can affect some population health (Hooper et al., 2013; Moe et al., 2013). Among the consequences of climate change is its potential to alter the environmental distribution, cycling and risks of chemical pollutants (Gouin et al., 2013; O'Driscoll, Mayer, Su, & Mathis, 2014). There is therefore now an important need for research aimed at understanding how climate change will impact the distribution and toxicity of chemical contaminants (Hooper et al., 2013).

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