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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Remember this invention? 19 year-old student proposed this design to clean up plastics in the oceans. The idea was picked up by TED, and green blogs exploded with glee.

I criticized the project as ineffective buffoonery and likely illegal. And several others also panned the invention as foolish and naive. Well, now the student is back with a revised version of the plastic’s clean up machine. He’s partnered with some serious engineers and PR and he formed a new company, “The Ocean Cleanup.” Video here.

A science journalist in Germany, Sarah Zierul, interviewed me and a few other experts who also criticized the machine. Sarah’s article really got to the heart of the story and you can see researched for several months to get to the facts. She re-tells the story of the young inventor, and describes the original machine and its problems, as well as the new machine and the engineering behind it. She also interviews several critics, noting how their complaints have evolved into support.

Excellent science reporting!

Read Sarah’s excellent article, here. If you don’t read German, go here.

transatlanticenergy:

The Halligen Islands in the North Sea are one of many low-lying and island regions that are very concerned about climate change.

Not protected by dikes, the Halligens are a set of small islands (some as small as 17 acres) that have separated from the mainland after centuries of flooding and erosion. Because of the periodic storm flooding, homes on the Halligens are built atop small, artificial hills (Warften) that keep them above sea level. 

Like large areas of the Netherlands, northeastern Germany, and Denmark, the Halligen Islands are keenly aware of the risk of sea level rise due to global warming and are investing in climate adaptation strategies. 

The Danish Meteorological Institute is reporting that on Tuesday, July 30, the mercury rose to 25.9 C (78.6 F) at a station in Greenland, the highest temperature measured in the Arctic country since records began in 1958

Some light reading before bed. Actually, this is a sweet, free(!) article on the adaptation assessment framework that created the “Coastal Hazard Wheel.”

Abstract
This paper presents a generic framework for assessing inherent climate change hazards in coastal environments through a combined coastal classification and hazard evaluation system. The framework is developed to be used at scales relevant for regional and national planning and aims to cover all coastal environments worldwide through a specially designed coastal classification system containing 113 generic coastal types.
The framework provides information on the degree to which key climate change hazards are inherent in a particular coastal environment, and covers the hazards of ecosystem disruption, gradual inundation, salt water intrusion, erosion and flooding.
The system includes a total of 565 individual hazard evaluations, each graduated into four different hazard levels based on a scientific literature review. The framework uses a simple assessment methodology with limited data and computing requirements, allowing for application in developing country settings. It is presented as a graphical tool—the Coastal Hazard Wheel—to ease its application for planning purposes.
 

A primer on ocean acidification. What it is. How it works. And its impacts on the ocean. From the Arctic Monitoring and Assessment Programme.

AMAP is one of five Working Groups of the Arctic Council.

The primary function of AMAP is to advise the governments of the eight Arctic countries (Canada, Denmark/Greenland, Finland, Iceland, Norway, Russia, Sweden and the United States) on matters relating to threats to the Arctic region from pollution, and associated issues.

I was at the COP15 when Chavez arrived to deliver his vile, inflammatory speech. Obama was there, as well. In fact, the COP15 went down in history books as one of the largest gatherings of world leaders in one place at one time (I believe second only to the 2000 Millennium Summit).

You can watch Chavez’s vile speech in the link below provided by the excellent Fora TV:

Venezuelan president Hugo Chávez has died.  In 2009 he addressed COP15, the United Nations Climate Change Conference.  Criticizing the destructive practices of the capitalist system, Chavez feared that the “infinite model” of capitalism will exhaust the finite resources of the environment.  (Image via wikipedia)

We were kicked out of the COP15 because a protest, one of the largest in Europe’s history, flared up and scared authorities. In fact, Denmark actually suspended parts of its Constitution, blocked highways, rolled out the military and super-police units, and arrested (a few) protestors on sight.

I took some pictures of the protest, here.

I remember there was fear there would be a declaration of Marshall Law. And there was equal criticism that the peaceful, happy, socialist Danes would usher in a military response to a climate protest.

But, the public felt left out of the UN’s climate negotiations and quickly formed a peaceful protest.

In the end, no one listened…

In a confusing Press Release, the United Nations urges countries to protect AND develop the Arctic as glaciers and ice melt. On the one hand, the PR urges stronger legal and environmental regulations. On the other, it urges northern countries to cooperate as they exploit the Arctic’s vast resources of oil, gas, minerals, and fish: “the Arctic Council …is formed by Canada, Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway, Russia, Sweden and the US has a crucial role to play in ensuring any resource exploitation is done responsibly.”

Confused? Yeah, me too…

Via United Nations

There are very few sectors that require advanced climate adaptation strategies. Insurers, farmers, military, and some development NGOs are currently the top consumers of adaptation theories. But how do local, sedentary farmers understand and perceive a changing climate? Who informs them of the coming changes?

Danish researchers surveyed farmers in the Sahel to inquire about how they will adjust their practices to a new climatological future. Surprisingly, climate was not the main driver of decision making, despite the farmers dependence upon climate predictions.

Farmers in the Sahel have always been facing
climatic variability at intra- and inter-annual and decadal time scales. While coping and adaptation strategies have traditionally included crop diversification, mobility, livelihood diversification, and migration, singling out climate as a direct driver of changes is not so simple. Farmers’ Perceptions of Climate Change and Agricultural Adaptation Strategies in Rural Sahel

H/T to the intriguing rubygonewild.

It’s Climate Science Communications Week at Climate Adaptation!  For the entire week of Feb. 18 - 23, I’ll cover how climate change is discussed by the media, scientists, researchers, academics, and politicians. If you have sources or ideas on communicating climate change, send to: http://climateadaptation.tumblr.com/submit

I’m so surprised by the depth of research and overall usefulness of the How Stuff Works website. This post on the North Pole covers how to prepare for an Arctic Expedition. It included this nice nugget:

From the 15th through the 20th century, the Doctrine of Discovery was recognized by European and American explorers as the go-to guideline for ownership of territory. The doctrine uses a basic “first-come, first-served” rule — a region belongs to whatever country got there first. Remember how the United States “won” the race to the moon in 1969 by planting a flag on the lunar surface?

Today, the United Nations has taken control of the issue. According to the U.N. Convention on the Laws of the Sea, claims to the North Pole are based on a country’s continental shelf (undersea extensions of land).

In 2007, Russian mini-submarines — on a mission to explore natural gas and oil deposits under the North Pole — planted Russian flags below the Arctic ice. The Canadians were not pleased, mostly because they claim that the North Pole is theirs. So do Denmark (via Greenland), Norway and the United States.

Via How Things Work (really great read)

Drowned sheep, Denmark.

The sheep had drowned while trying to cross a small canal in the meadow-swamp ‘Tøndermasken’ in southern Jylland in Denmark. Birds had eaten every part abowe the surface and everything under was left totally untouched.

NatGeo

Greenland’s ice and glaciers are melting fast, exposing ultra-rare minerals and gems deposits like no other on the entire planet. Gold, diamonds, coal, uranium, possibly oil and gas, and rare-earth metals (a very rare mineral-ore used to make cell phones) are among the many riches to be dug up.

A mining boom is about to completely change the island forever. We’re witnessing it right now. Glaciers are melting, exposing rock underneath that is packed with profits.

This means a tidal wave of money is about to crush centuries of culture, tradition, and local community. Many locals can’t wait for it to happen.

These screens are clipped from this fantastic article covering the economic boom Greenland is about to experience due to the big melt. It’s a beautifully shot video. And these pics do not do it justice. Have a look.

After you watch, I’d also like to hear what you think of this situation. Do you think mining in Greenland is a good thing? If you know Scandinavian politics, what of the possible break between Greenland and Denmark? What new goods and services will the natives and locals need in Greenland?? Click here and add your opinion/ask questions/vent/etc. I’ll do my best to answer!

skeptv:

Images Show Greenland’s Ever Shifting Ice

via laboratoryequipment:

Despite the current and rapid melting of the Greenland Ice Sheet, it remains far from certain just when we will have reached a point when scientists will be able to predict its disappearance. Recent research conducted by the Univ. of Copenhagen in conjunction with the Technical Univ. of Denmark (DTU) and the Danish National Survey and Cadastre (KMS) and Aarhus Univ. in collaboration with an international team of scientists reports that this is not the first time in recent history that the ice sheet has been in retreat and then stabilized again. The researchers’ results have just been published in Science.

Read more: http://www.laboratoryequipment.com/videos/2012/08/images-show-greenland%E2%80%99s-ever-shifting-ice

revkin:

Greenland melt season in overdrive. More vid. (h/t @cryocity). High melt rate meshes with Jason Box reports on surface reflectivity of ice sheet being at modern low (darker = more sun absorption). It’s important to examine this in a longer time context, though. Earlier Jason Box research:

COLUMBUS, Ohio - A chance discovery of 80-year-old photo plates in a Danish basement is providing new insight into how Greenland glaciers are melting today.

Researchers at the National Survey and Cadastre of Denmark - that country’s federal agency responsible for surveys and mapping - had been storing the glass plates since explorer Knud Rasmussen’sexpedition to the southeast coast of Greenland in the early 1930s.

In this week’s online edition of Nature Geoscience, Ohio State University researchers and colleagues in Denmark describe how they analyzed ice loss in the region by comparing the images on the plates to aerial photographs and satellite images taken from World War II to today.

Taken together, the imagery shows that glaciers in the region were melting even faster in the 1930s than they are today, said Jason Box, associate professor of geography and researcher at the Byrd Polar Research Center at Ohio State. A brief cooling period starting in the mid-20th century allowed new ice to form, and then the melting began to accelerate again in the 2000s…

Finally, worth keeping in mind other work showing that all surface melting doesn’t necessarily lead to the sea (even thought a lot does, as these videos show!).
For example, see recent work showing this is not a simple process: “Using observations from ESA’s veteran ERS-1 satellite, which in July will have been in orbit for 20 years, new research suggests that the internal drainage system of the ice sheet adapts to accommodate more meltwater, without speeding up the flow of the glacier.”