In many ways, water is the lifeblood of Planet Earth. This important molecule is simply two parts hydrogen and one part oxygen. However, water provides essential ecosystem services through the various processes it undergoes.
Unfortunately, water is under attack. Groundwater is being depleted. The majority of lakes, rivers, and oceans are polluted. The polar ice caps are melting. In order to fight these negative trends, we must educate ourselves more about water.
The following are some ways that water has an overall impact on the global environment.
The Ocean Shapes the Climate
The ocean has an enormous impact on shaping the climate. In contrast to land, the ocean readily absorbs much of the solar energy that reaches the planet. Because water is heated more easily than land, it allows our planet to be warmer than the Earth would be otherwise.
More so, the ocean provides rain and moves heat. Most of the rain we have comes from ocean water, which is evaporated into the atmosphere. The waters of the ocean are also constantly circulating in currents, which moves heat from the equator toward the poles. These currents make the entire planet a much more habitable temperature.
Wetlands are Valuable Habitats
A wetland is an area that is a combination of land plants and freshwater. These areas are extremely productive biologically, and they have a diversity of species. Wetlands also provide a number of ecosystem services like: runoff mitigation, flood protection, pollution reduction, and aquifer revitalization.
Water Vapor is Important to the Atmosphere
There is a lot of talk about the warming effects of carbon dioxide. Certainly, this should be a concern with global climate change. However, did you know that water vapor actually holds more heat than carbon dioxide?
Water evaporates off of the ocean, rivers, and lakes. It is then stored in the atmosphere as water vapor. Water vapor is actually the most powerful greenhouse gas in our atmosphere. This natural process of water plays a huge and natural role in our global climate.
Oceans have an Abundance of Life
Most of the Earth’s surface is covered by oceans. Correspondingly, the oceans contain an abundance of biological life. Some of the habitats found in oceans have shockingly high numbers of species. These habitats include places like kelp forests and coral reefs. Their biological diversity make these habitats extremely valuable.
Water is a simple molecule, but it plays an enormous role in the environment. Virtually all of Earth’s species rely upon water to live. Virtually all of Earth’s ecosystems need water to function. It is vital that we understand and conserve this precious substance.