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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New report confirms Chesapeake Bay extremely vulnerable to sea level rise. Billions in real estate value (not to mention precious habitat) are at risk. 

Coastal sea-level rise for Maryland will range from slightly less than a foot to more than two feet by mid-century, and from two to six feet by the end of the century, depending on numerous factors, including glacial ice melt, according to the projections in a recent report from the Maryland Commission on Climate Change.

Six feet of sea-level rise by 2100 might not seem like much, said Donald F. Boesch, president of the University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science, until its effect on storm surge is factored in.

As waters inch up at a pace of nearly four millimeters per year, coastal Maryland will be highly vulnerable to flooding from wind surge from major storms such as Sandy, the “superstorm” that flooded New York City and wiped out huge chunks of the Jersey shore last year.

“It’s going to happen,” said Boesch, who led the commission’s Scientific and Technical Working Group. In addition to seas rising, land in Maryland has been sinking as a result of ancient geological events.

“Our estimate is we should prepare for a sea level that’s going to be almost up to my chest, well over my knees,” Boesch said. “We better prepare for that. We need to be ready to make some difficult and tough decisions about what we’re going to protect.”

The system delivers your online purchases to the rail stations and buses that you’ve used in the last 21 days.

If you have not used Metro or regional transit in that time frame, you will need to touch your card to a SmarTrip® target at a faregate, fare vending machine or bus farebox to let the system know where to deliver your products. You must then wait one business day if you touched a target at a faregate or fare vending machine or two business days if you touched a target at a bus farebox.

If you try to pick up your product at a rail station or bus, and it’s not available for you yet, please try again at the same rail station or the same bus line the next business day.

The system can store up to four product load instructions at a time for a single smart card. After those four products have been loaded to your card, the next group of up to four product load instructions will be issued and will be available to load to your smart card.

In other words, if your “SmarTrip” Metro Card doesn’t work after adding money to it, “Meh, just go away and come back tomorrow. Might work. Might not.” 

This really is an answer in Washington, DC’s Metro FAQs section. My Metro Card is connected to an account online. I added money to the card thinking - silly me - that I could use the Metro Card at the metro station. Nyyyyyyyope!

I can only use the card at stations I previously traveled through - maybe possibly thank you come again. Makes absolutely no sense. Worst metro system on planet Earth

No good news for Detroit/Midwest today.

The Midwest is home to roughly 66 million Americans and includes the cities of Chicago, Indianapolis, Detroit, Milwaukee, Kansas City, Cleveland, Minneapolis, and St. Paul, among others.

Most of the region consists of flat prairie that is farmed for corn, soybean, and wheat, or is used for grazing livestock. Summers in the Midwest are hot and humid, and winters are cold, since the region is far from the temperature-moderating effect of the oceans.

Bar chart that shows the observed and projected number of heat waves per thirty year period under lower and higher emissions scenarios. From 1970 to 1999 there was only one or two heat waves. Under a lower emissions scenario the number of heat waves per thirty year period is projected to increase from three or four in the 2010 to 2039 period to about twelve in the 2070 to 2099 period. Under the higher emissions scenario, the increase is much steeper with about six heat waves in the 2010 to 2039 period; about 35 in the 2040 to 2069 period; and more than 80 in the 2070 to 2099 period.

Number of 1995-like Chicago Heat Waves. Under the lower emissions scenarios, 1995-like heat waves are projected to occur approximately once every three years. Under the higher scenarios, heat waves are projected to occur on average, three times per year. Source: USGCRP (2009) (PDF)

In the Midwest, average annual  temperatures increased over the last several decades. Heat waves are becoming more frequent and cold periods are becoming rarer. Snow and ice are arriving later in the fall and starting to melt earlier in the spring. Heavy downpours now occur twice as frequently as they did a century ago. 

These trends are likely to continue under future climate change: average summer temperatures are projected to increase by 3°F over the next few decades and could increase by over 10°F by the end of this century.

This range would make summers in Illinois and Michigan feel like those in present-day Texas and Oklahoma, respectively.

smartercities:

A revolutionary new traffic system without traffic lights

Double traffic circle.

trendd:

Pretty impressive numbers.

"Citi Bike, the country’s largest bike sharing program, is funded by a $41 million sponsorship from global bank Citi. For more about the program, you can visit its website.”

(via Mayor Bloomberg Releases CitiBike’s One Month Report Card [Infographic] - PSFK)

Wow. In one month! I use the bike share in DC. Was skeptical at first, because daily bike riding in Massachusetts was pretty dangerous. Drivers would swear, swerve, and even throw soda cups at you. Not in DC. The bike lanes certainly help! But drivers and cyclists just co-exist. Fingers crossed for NYC! 

U.S. infrastructure is an aging, decrepit mess. Heat waves, storms, and wider temperature swings are adding to the problem - a very, very expensive one that puts millions at risk. 

Note that just today, we cut $2.1 billion from the Dept. of Energy’s energy infrastructure investment programs.  

Climate Change Will Cause More Energy Breakdowns, U.S. Warns

The nation’s entire energy system is vulnerable to increasingly severe and costly weather events driven by climate change, according to a report from the Department of Energy to be published on Thursday.

The blackouts and other energy disruptions of Hurricane Sandy were just a foretaste, the report says. Every corner of the country’s energy infrastructure — oil wells, hydroelectric dams, nuclear power plants — will be stressed in coming years by more intense storms, rising seas, higher temperatures and more frequent droughts.

The effects are already being felt, the report says. Power plants are shutting down or reducing output because of a shortage of cooling water. Barges carrying coal and oil are being delayed by low water levels in major waterways. Floods and storm surges are inundating ports, refineries, pipelines and rail yards. Powerful windstorms and raging wildfires are felling transformers and transmission lines.

“We don’t have a robust energy system, and the costs are significant,” said Jonathan Pershing, the deputy assistant secretary of energy for climate change policy and technology, who oversaw production of the report. “The cost today is measured in the billions. Over the coming decades, it will be in the trillions. You can’t just put your head in the sand anymore.”

The study notes that 2012 was the hottest year on record in the contiguous United States, and last July was the hottest month in the United States since record keeping began in 1895.

The high temperatures were accompanied by record-setting drought, which parched much of the Southwest and greatly reduced water available for cooling fossil fuel plants and producing hydroelectric power. A study found that roughly 60 percent of operating coal plants are in areas with potential water shortages driven by climate change.

Rising heat in the West will drive a steep increase in demand for air conditioning, which has already forced blackouts and brownouts in some places. The Energy Department’s Argonne National Laboratory found that air conditioning demand in the West will require 34 gigawatts of new electricity generating capacity by 2050, equivalent to the construction of 100 power plants. The cost to consumers will exceed $40 billion, the lab said.

Mr. Pershing, who joined the Department of Energy this year after serving for several years as the State Department’s deputy special envoy for climate change, said much of the climate disruption was already baked into the system from 150 years of rising levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. He said that the nation must continue efforts to reduce climate-altering emissions, but that the impact of those efforts would not be felt for years. In the meantime, Mr. Pershing said, cities, states and the federal government must take steps to adapt and improve their resiliency in the face of more wicked weather.

President Obama referred to these vulnerabilities in his speech on climate change at Georgetown University on June 25. He said Hurricane Sandy, which devastated the Northeast in October, had provided a wake-up call, if one was needed after the run of climate-related disasters in recent years.

inothernews:

Floodwaters rage through the city of Beichuan, in China’s Sichuan province, on Tuesday, July 9.  Floods caused by the worst rains in decades have left at least 52 people dead in the western part of the country.  (Photos: AFP-Getty via NBC News)

Published free by the National Institutes for Health (NIH)

Ultimately we sought to elucidate how social inequalities shape disparities in heat risk–related land cover (HRRLC) characteristics.

Toward this goal, we used racial residential segregation as a proxy for the degree to which a metropolitan area is characterized by historical and contemporary racial inequality and discrimination. Political and socioeconomic forces have led to systemic racial and ethnic segregation, with important implications for community health.

Therefore, segregation is crucial to understanding social drivers of environmental health disparities and, more directly, the potentially disproportionate health burdens of climate change on communities of color.

The Pacific Adaptation to Climate Change (PACC) project is working in 14 Pacific Island countries to reduce vulnerability and increase resilience to the adverse effects of climate change. Go to 3:00 to skip the long intro on water shortages. The video does go over the PACC, shows maps, and various architectural design and adaptation projects. 

Stockholm Environment Institute’s beautiful interactive Annual Report 2012

SEI is a solid source of environmental governance theory and solutions, including theories behind and application of adaptation. I’ve applied to various adaptation research positions at SEI over the years, but am consistently out-brained. Their staff are among the best researchers on the planet. Their annual report is different - beautiful and easy to read interactive. Well worth your time. 

SEI is an independent international research institute. We have been engaged in environment and development issues at local, national, regional and global policy levels for more than a quarter of a century.

The institute was formally established in 1989 by the Swedish Government, and since then we have established a reputation for rigorous and objective scientific analysis in the field of environment and development.

Managing environmental systems: Growing populations, rapid urbanization and increased consumption put unprecedented pressure on land, water and air resources. Our research addresses how to manage these resources to enhance food security for our planet’s six billion people, to reduce the health impacts of air pollution and poor sanitation, and to protect ecosystem services through sound management of land and water resources.

Reducing climate risk: The goal of this theme is to contribute to a safer climate for all. We help design, develop and implement effective and fair strategies for adaptation and mitigation in developing and developed countries, taking into account the broader challenges and policy objectives of sustainable human development.

Transforming governance: Sustainable development is essentially about giving people the opportunity to build resilience by providing them with more options in their lives and livelihoods. We advance new insights into good governance for sustainable development in the face of social and ecological change.

Rethinking development: The global economy has brought prosperity to many in the world, but it has also depleted natural resources and vital ecosystem services. Our research shows the benefits of a low carbon future and describes how we can get there. We set out alternatives for sustainable futures, from the planetary scale down to local, on-the-ground solutions.

shortformblog:

Fortunately, the driver is OK: In what might be the scariest-looking photo we’ll post all day, this car in Toledo, Ohio was sucked in by a sinkhole. (The car was moving at the time.) The sinkhole, created by a water main break, briefly trapped the driver, though she was said to be (understandably) shaken. Yikes. (photo via Associated Press)

Aging infrastructure. Ohio.

And, there’s a video… 

The bigger the earthquake, the louder it rings. And the magnitude 9.0 quake that struck just off the coast of Japan on March 11, 2011 was very big, indeed.

Scientific instruments like seismometers are sensitive enough to pick up seismic waves from distant earthquakes, even on their second or third trip around the planet. (Satellites have even detected the accompanying atmospheric waves.) It doesn’t always take super-precise measurements to know something is happening, however. A groundwater monitoring well in Virginia made the passage of seismic waves from the 2011 Tohoku earthquake quite clear in the form of a rapid two foot rise in water level.

While the tsunami that accompanied the earthquake in Japan was devastating, waves of a very different sort were spawned far away—in the fjords of Norway. A number of witnesses noticed the strange waves, occurring as they did on a calm morning when the fjord waters were otherwise smooth. As some managed to capture on video