Potential impacts on human activity

Climate change has a number of potential impacts on human activity

Climate change has a number of potential impacts on human activity including water availability, agricultural productivity, extreme temperatures and drought, the risk of forest fire and sea level rise.

Water shortages

The availability of water will be affected by melting of glaciers, particularly in areas such as the Indus basin and western China, where much of the river flow comes from meltwater.

Increased temperatures

Population growth, combined with changes in river run-off (as a result of changes in rainfall patterns and increased temperatures), could mean that by 2080 significantly less water is available to approximately one billion people.

Falling agriculture & food yields

Agricultural yields are expected to decrease for all major cereal crops in all major regions of production. See more about food security.

Rising sea levels

For many areas of the world, sea-level rise combined with the effect of storms will threaten low-lying coastal communities. There are many areas of dense population, important infrastructure and high-value agricultural land along coasts, which make coastal flooding particularly damaging. Flooding events could affect millions worldwide every year.

4 degree map

The Met Office Hadley Centre has produced a Google Earth map outlining some of the potential impacts of a 4 °C (7 °F) rise in global average temperature above the pre-industrial climate average.

Last updated: 1 October 2013

Video: Sea level rise and climate change
Dr Jason Lowe from the Met Office Hadley Centre talks about sea level rise and climate change