Climate Risk : Effects of Thermal Pollution

With the given demand for cooling in power generation and other industrial processes, the extent of thermal pollution worldwide is huge and wide spread. It is mostly observed in the more mechanised countries. The countries of Americas, Europe, Asia and Australia show this trend majorly which is in the heavy influence of thermal pollution. The adversity of thermal pollution is usually related either to chemical contamination or biological contamination. These combined causes of pollution can create rigorous stresses on aqua-biotic ecosystems.

Effects of Thermal Pollution

There are mainly two schools of thought regarding their perception about the effects of thermal pollution. According to the first school of thought, without these industries operating like they do then many basic parts of human life would be rendered obsolete. Waste water will not be maintained properly and basic products won’t be provided then.On the other hand, according to the other group, there are more negatives of this on the marine ecosystems and how badly it reprimands the positive environmental practices. But it is very clear that the negatives outweigh the benefits that industries provide us with.

• Biodiversity Loss – With even a small glitch or dent in the aquatic system related to biological activity well being, there can be a heavy loss faced on the biodiversity front. As far as the changing conditions of the environment prevail, it may lead to make certain species of organisms to shift or migrate from their base. Again there can be many species that shift due to warmer waters prevailing in the water bodies. It is not easy for all the species to adjust to the warmer waters and some might have a lot of difficulty due to this.

• Disruption of Reproductive System – There is a noticeable pause and disruption in the reproduction of marine wildlife with also the likelihood of prevalence of defects in new born having increased considerably. This happens mainly due to the increased temperature conditions as reproduction happens within certain range of temperature only. Several activities like nest building, spawning, hatching, reproduction and migration depend hugely on an optimum temperature. Excessively higher temperatures can wane the release of immature eggs or prevent the normal development of eggs.

• Decrease in Dissolved Oxygen Levels – It is observed that the concentration of dissolved oxygen (DO) decreases with increase in temperature. The water with higher temperature reduces the levels of (DO) in water. The warm water holds relatively lesser amount of oxygen in dissolved form than cold water. With this condition of decreased presence of dissolved oxygen can create suffocation for plants and animals like fishes, amphibians and copepods due to anaerobic conditions. Also with warmer waters, algae can thrive better on the surface of water. More the algae more will the anaerobic conditions prevail in the water.

• Mortality & Migration of Aquatic Organisms– Thermal pollution is a major reason for the mortality of aquatic animals. Fishes die after a certain temperature due to failure of respiratory and nervous system. Again there are cases of migration taking place due to higher temperatures to more suitable environment catering for their requirements of survival. We might lose those species which depends on those species as a food source.

• Abnormal Metabolism – Thermal pollution causes the metabolic rate to increase of organisms. This makes them consume more food as their enzyme levels are increased rather than the normal conditions. Temperature plays an important role in the proper functioning of physiology, metabolism and biochemical processes which controls factors like respiratory rates, digestion, excretion and development of organisms. This disrupts the balance within the food chain and the species composition.

• Increased Toxins – more the flow of higher temperature waters from the industrial discharges more is the increased concentration of toxins into the water. Huge increase in the toxins that are being regurgitated into the water bodies. These toxins contain chemicals or radiation which have a harsh impact on the local ecology and becomes prone to diseases. The toxicity with warmer waters gets even more poisonous. At a higher temperature of even 10 degree Celsius doubles the toxic effect of Potassium Cyanide and O-Xylene at 80 degree Celsius causes tremendous fish mortality.

• Ecological Impact – With a sudden thermal shock from thermal pollution has the capability of mass killing of fish, insects, plants or amphibians. Warmer waters are not favorable for all types of species which might be better for only few species. Little increase in temperature has higher activities but then goes on decreasing with further rise. Some species are very sensitive and they undergo drastic changes in metabolism and other adverse cellular biological effects.

Read More:
How to Prevent Thermal Pollution?
How to control radioactive (nuclear) pollution?
What are the main causes of radioactive pollution?
Ways to Prevent Ocean Pollution

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