CLIMATE ADAPTATION

I want to punch climate change in the face. A blog about the interactions between the built environment, people, and nature.


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The savage heat waves that struck Australia in 2013 were almost certainly a direct consequence of the human release of greenhouse gases, researchers said Monday. It is perhaps the most definitive statement climate scientists have made that ties a specific weather event to global warming.

Five groups of researchers, using distinct methods, analyzed the heat that baked Australia for much of last year and continued into 2014, shutting down the Australian Open tennis tournament at one point in January. All five came to the conclusion that last year’s heat waves could not have been as severe without the long-term climatic warming caused by human activity.

“When we look at the heat across the whole of Australia and the whole 12 months of 2013, we can say that this was virtually impossible without climate change,” said David Karoly, a climate scientist at the University of Melbourne who led one research team.

One of the most direct and definitive statements from climate scientists to date. More here.

E.g., the case for removing old dams to restore ecosystems.

At over 100 sites throughout the Connecticut River basin, the largest river system in New England, we characterized species composition, valley and channel morphology, and hydrologic regime to define conditions promoting distinct floodplain forest assemblages. Species assemblages were dominated by floodplain-associated trees on surfaces experiencing flood durations between 4.5 and 91 days/year, which were generally well below the stage of the two-year recurrence interval flood, a widely-used benchmark for floodplain restoration. These tree species rarely occurred on surfaces that flooded less than 1 day/year. By contrast abundance of most woody invasive species decreased with flooding.
Such flood-prone surfaces were jointly determined by characteristics of the hydrograph (high discharges of long duration) and topography (low gradient and reduced valley constraint), resulting in increased availability of floodplain habitat with increasing watershed area and/or decreasing stream gradient. Downstream mainstem reaches provided the most floodplain habitat, largely associated with low-energy features such as back swamps and point bars, and were dominated by silver maple (Acer saccharinum). However, we were able to identify a number of suitable sites in the upper part of the basin and in large tributaries, often associated with in-channel islands and bars and frequently dominated by sycamore (Platanus occidentalis) and flood disturbance-dependent species.
Our results imply that restoring flows by modifying dam operations to benefit floodplain forests on existing surfaces need not conflict with flood protection in some regional settings.

Pretty cool engineering project in New Orleans. The journalist explains how adding sod to the top of levees will increase the capacity of the berms to retain water. (though, I though levees were generally covered in grass, so it’s a bit confusing.) Anyway, this is a good and simple example of an adaptation.

Asker Anonymous Asks:
Not sure if you have already been asked this, what did you study to get the career you have today?
climateadaptation climateadaptation Said:

Hey anon,

Yes, been asked a ton, but I don’t mind.

I have masters degrees in environmental law and city planning. The focus of my research was/is how land-use laws were able (or, rather, unable) to accommodate climate science. So, naturally, I’m interested in how climate will affect infrastructure, economies, demographics, ecosystems, etc.

For example, I’m quite interested how can coastal communities deal with a rising sea. Especially cities like New York City or Lagos, which have thousands of buildings, roads, ports, and pipelines literally built inches from the ocean.

Cities are prepared for certain levels of disasters. There are sea walls and evacuation plans, flood pump stations and hurricane barriers. And buildings and infrastructure are generally built to high standards. But, cites are not prepared for higher oceans (why would they be?). Climate change changes the equations and calculations of managing disasters in cities. They’re forced to adapt, regardless of how many solar panels are slapped onto rooftops.

It’s a complicated issue. Greenhouse gasses trap in more heat in the atmosphere, causing a bunch of crazy environmental things to happen. So the obvious response is to stop pumping carbon into the air. That’s Al Gore’s primary message.

The problem with this is that storms and fires and diseases are increasing as a result from rising temperatures. Climate change is occurring regardless of mitigation. Thus, the impacts have to be dealt with. In fact, our troubles are only going to increase. I choose to be on the impacts side of this conundrum (eg, adaptation).

Some other topics:

Cheers,

Michael

Solid questions to contemplate by Moyers.

Hi,

I’m Daniel Byers a filmmaker with SkyShipFilms. I’ve been selected as a finalist for Nat Geo’s “Expedition Granted” competition, with an expedition proposal to study dangerous glacial lakes in the Puna Tsang Chu valley, Bhutan. Please vote for my project. These glacial lakes are remote, unstudied except by satellite, and pose a real threat to Bhutan’s people, hydro plants, and only international airport.

The last round is a public vote, with the winner getting $50K to fund their expedition. You can vote once per day thru Sep 29th… would love to have your support in helping raise awareness and action for climate change! ~Daniel Byers

I saw the movie "Cowspiracy" which claims that Animal Agriculture is the largest contributor to climate change -- it contributes 51% of all greenhouse gas emissions. I checked this after the movie and the UN FAO lists it at 11%, but a third party, "World Watch" recalculates it to 51 based on respiration and other factors. I judge the evidence overall to support the treatise that animal ag is unsustainable, but isn't respiration carbon neutral - feed plants store CO2 equal to what cows expel? -PH
climateadaptation climateadaptation Said:

Hi playitbackward,

First, I’m into adaptation - not carbon or emissions nuttery. I help governments reduce risks by changing environmental and development policies. Adaptation is the process of reducing impacts from climate change. It’s basically preventing natural disasters using climate science. Read a short summary here.

That said, the movie is clearly misleading and propagandist (thus the title). It’s not difficult to find the correct sources of information on sources of emissions, primarily of which is the IPCC’s Fifth climate assessment report on mitigation: Climate Change 2014: Mitigation of Climate Change.

Cheers,

Michael

Asker Anonymous Asks:
What are the most cutting edge climate adaptation strategies people are trying to implement and where can I get more information on this?
climateadaptation climateadaptation Said:

Hey Anon,

Try CAKEX (Climate Adaptation Knowledge Exchange) and WeADAPT.

Cheers,

Michael

Among the report’s recommendations:

  • The federal government should fund state and local actions to prepare for climate change — rather than primarily reacting to extreme weather events that cost taxpayers billions of dollars every year.  (Sandy alone cost the federal government $60 billion.)  Currently, only a fraction of federal dollars are spent helping communities proactively prepare for escalating climate change impacts. Federal agencies should also ensure that communities recovering from extreme weather events with disaster relief funds are able to build back stronger to withstand future impacts.
  • Federal agencies should require that all major federal investments in new infrastructure account for and be built to withstand future impacts from climate change.
  • The Federal Emergency Management Agency should incorporate climate change projections on the floodplain maps that govern federal flood insurance rates.  These updates are needed to provide communities with accurate, risk-based information for making land-use decisions and to ensure the long-term solvency of the National Flood Insurance Program. (As of March 2014, the program was more than $24 billion in debt.)
  • The Army Corps and other federal agencies should align funding streams and support nature-based projects that both restore coastal wetlands and provide flood control benefits (like living shorelines).  Federal agencies and the White House Office of Management and Budget should also appropriately value the benefits of taking preventative action to respond to climate change and the value of natural ecosystems when calculating the costs and benefits of flood control projects.
The recommendations are based on extensive work in communities affected by sea-level rise, storms, and heat waves. These recommendations were further developed over the course of three workshops convened by the Georgetown Climate Center in late 2013 and early 2014. Participants included senior federal, state and local officials, along with experts from the non-governmental and academic communities. The workshops were held in coordination with the White House Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ) and relevant federal agencies.

Via Georgetown Climate Center

Elementa: Science of the Anthropocene is pleased to open its sixth knowledge domain, Sustainability Transitions, for submissions. In this video, Editor-in-Chief Anne R. Kapusckinski introduces her domain.

Meet Professor Austin Becker, Assistant Professor of Coastal Planning Policy and Design at University of Rhode Island. He focuses on coastal adaptation and resilient sea ports. He’s also a good friend of mine.

Sound argument for climate adaptation in the Op-ed section of the Miami Herald.

Abstract

Morphological and phylogenetic analyses suggest that the ability to precipitate carbonates evolved several times in marine invertebrates in the past 600 million years. Over the past decade, there has been a profusion of genomic, transcriptomic, and proteomic analyses of calcifying representatives from three metazoan phyla: Cnidaria, Echinodermata, and Mollusca. Based on this information, we compared proteins intimately associated with precipitated calcium carbonate in these three phyla. Specifically, we used a cluster analysis and gene ontology approach to compare ~1500 proteins, from over 100 studies, extracted from calcium carbonates in stony corals, in bivalve and gastropod mollusks, and in adult and larval sea urchins to identify common motifs and differences. Our analysis suggests that there are few sequence similarities across all three phyla, supporting the independent evolution of biomineralization.

However, there are core sets of conserved motifs in all three phyla we examined. These motifs include acidic proteins that appear to be responsible for the nucleation reaction as well as inhibition; structural and adhesion proteins that determine spatial patterning; and signaling proteins that modify enzymatic activities. Based on this analysis and the fossil record, we propose that biomineralization is an extremely robust and highly controlled process in metazoans that can withstand extremes in pH predicted for the coming century, similar to their persistence through the Paleocene-Eocene Thermal Maximum.

- See more at: http://elementascience.org

Labor day reading…

Guys, seriously. Come meet Jenny Frankel-Reed, Senior Climate Adaptation Specialist with USAID’s Global Climate Change Office. 
She. Is. AWESOME!!!
I co-manage a climate adaptation contract with her office, and I can say she is one of the best people I’ve worked with in a long time. She manages a technical project called SERVIR with NASA, USAID, and several partners around the world.

SERVIR—the Regional Visualization and Monitoring System—helps government officials, managers, scientists, researchers, students, and the general public make decisions by providing Earth observations and predictive models based on data from orbiting satellites.
The SERVIR system helps nations in Mesoamerica, Africa, and the Himalayan regions cope with eight areas of societal benefit identified by the Group on Earth Observations (GEO): disasters, ecosystems, biodiversity, weather, water, climate, health, and agriculture. Via


I think she’s a great inspiration for young women professionals in science!! You HAVE TO COME SEE HER!
Do you want to hear about what it’s like to work at USAID?
Are you interested in how the U.S. government promotes climate adaptation around the world??! Of course you do!
Interested in making connections in the climate change field?
Come meet Jenny for a chat and some drinks August 28th. I’ll be there, too!
Details: 

A Chat with USAID/GCC Jenny Frankel-Reed. 
BAR LOUIE (CHINATOWN METRO) Washington, DC AUG 28 7 P.M.
HOSTS ENVIRO-RUN:
August 28: 7 p.m. – Bar Louie, 701 7th St. NW, Washington DC. (IMPORTANT! Bar Louie is in the mall next to the Chinatown Metro. Go through the white doors on the northwest entrance off 7th Street, by the food carts.)
There will be a place to store bags while envirorunners are on the fun run. Meet inside the event room (Upon entering, turn left and then turn right when you see the back bar. We will be through the big, wooden door along the back wall.)  7 p.m.
Photo op: We welcome you to wear your best enviro shirt + swag and share #envirorun photos on Twitter (@envirorun) and Facebook (Envirorun). Prizes go to the top tweeters!
Speaker bio: Jenny Frankel-Reed is a Senior Climate Change Specialist and Coordinator of the SERVIR Program with USAID’s Climate Change Office, where she has provided technical support to programs in 20 countries and regions across Asia, Africa, and Latin America and coordinated USAID’s flagship science and technology partnership with NASA (SERVIR). 
Ms. Frankel-Reed has worked on the vulnerability and adaptation dimensions of climate change for more than 10 years, including vulnerability assessment, remote sensing applications, climate services, monitoring and evaluation, international climate financing, and training. 
Prior to joining USAID in 2010, she served as Technical Advisor for a German International Cooperation (GIZ) project based in India, was an Adaptation Advisor with the Environment and Energy Group of the United Nations Development Program, and worked as a Climate Change Consultant to the Global Environment Facility. Ms. Frankel-Reed has forest and human ecology research experience in the Brazilian Amazon and Pacific Northwest of the U.S., and holds a Masters from the Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies and Bachelors from Willamette University.

If you’re in DC August 28, please please come see her speak on USAID’s climate programs across dozens of countries.
She’s a young professional operating at a very high-level under Obama’s government. Come see her August 28th. It’s a small crowd, intimate setting, and the atmosphere is very casual! 

Guys, seriously. Come meet Jenny Frankel-Reed, Senior Climate Adaptation Specialist with USAID’s Global Climate Change Office.

She. Is. AWESOME!!!

I co-manage a climate adaptation contract with her office, and I can say she is one of the best people I’ve worked with in a long time. She manages a technical project called SERVIR with NASA, USAID, and several partners around the world.

SERVIR—the Regional Visualization and Monitoring System—helps government officials, managers, scientists, researchers, students, and the general public make decisions by providing Earth observations and predictive models based on data from orbiting satellites.

The SERVIR system helps nations in Mesoamerica, Africa, and the Himalayan regions cope with eight areas of societal benefit identified by the Group on Earth Observations (GEO): disasters, ecosystems, biodiversity, weather, water, climate, health, and agriculture. Via

I think she’s a great inspiration for young women professionals in science!! You HAVE TO COME SEE HER!

  • Do you want to hear about what it’s like to work at USAID?
  • Are you interested in how the U.S. government promotes climate adaptation around the world??! Of course you do!
  • Interested in making connections in the climate change field?
  • Come meet Jenny for a chat and some drinks August 28th. I’ll be there, too!

Details:

A Chat with USAID/GCC Jenny Frankel-Reed.

BAR LOUIE (CHINATOWN METRO) Washington, DC AUG 28 7 P.M.

HOSTS ENVIRO-RUN:

August 28: 7 p.m. – Bar Louie, 701 7th St. NW, Washington DC. (IMPORTANT! Bar Louie is in the mall next to the Chinatown Metro. Go through the white doors on the northwest entrance off 7th Street, by the food carts.)

There will be a place to store bags while envirorunners are on the fun run. Meet inside the event room (Upon entering, turn left and then turn right when you see the back bar. We will be through the big, wooden door along the back wall.)  7 p.m.

Photo op: We welcome you to wear your best enviro shirt + swag and share #envirorun photos on Twitter (@envirorun) and Facebook (Envirorun). Prizes go to the top tweeters!

Speaker bio: Jenny Frankel-Reed is a Senior Climate Change Specialist and Coordinator of the SERVIR Program with USAID’s Climate Change Office, where she has provided technical support to programs in 20 countries and regions across Asia, Africa, and Latin America and coordinated USAID’s flagship science and technology partnership with NASA (SERVIR).

Ms. Frankel-Reed has worked on the vulnerability and adaptation dimensions of climate change for more than 10 years, including vulnerability assessment, remote sensing applications, climate services, monitoring and evaluation, international climate financing, and training.

Prior to joining USAID in 2010, she served as Technical Advisor for a German International Cooperation (GIZ) project based in India, was an Adaptation Advisor with the Environment and Energy Group of the United Nations Development Program, and worked as a Climate Change Consultant to the Global Environment Facility. Ms. Frankel-Reed has forest and human ecology research experience in the Brazilian Amazon and Pacific Northwest of the U.S., and holds a Masters from the Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies and Bachelors from Willamette University.

If you’re in DC August 28, please please come see her speak on USAID’s climate programs across dozens of countries.

She’s a young professional operating at a very high-level under Obama’s government. Come see her August 28th. It’s a small crowd, intimate setting, and the atmosphere is very casual! 

Asian Development Bank’s new climate infographic quantifies how south Asia economy will be hit by climate impacts.