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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Expecting the Unexpected: Abrupt Climate Change" - several earth-systems scientists argue that gradual climate change inevitably leads to a higher likely hood of ‘abrupt’ catastrophe.

On why the LATimes avoids publishing op-eds by climate deniers. Well done, LATimes.

Great news. Via: The Hill
The Golden Toad was -not- killed by changes to climate. Its extinction was due to a combination of El Niño and a fungus. Some environmental organizations still point to the toad as the first climate change extinction. Not true. 

El Niño and a Pathogen Killed Costa Rican Toad, Study Finds Challenges Evidence That Global Warming Was the Cause
Scientists broadly agree that global warming may threaten the survival of many plant and animal species; but global warming did not kill the Monteverde golden toad, an often cited example of climate-triggered extinction, says a new study. 
The toad vanished from Costa Rica’s Pacific coastal-mountain cloud forest in the late 1980s, the apparent victim of a pathogen outbreak that has wiped out dozens of other amphibians in the Americas. Many researchers have linked outbreaks of the deadly chytrid fungus to climate change, but the new study asserts that the weather patterns, at Monteverde at least, were not out of the ordinary.
The role that climate change played in the toad’s demise has been fiercely debated in recent years. The new paper, in the March 1 2010 issue of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, is the latest to weigh in. In the study, researchers used old-growth trees from the Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve to reconstruct moisture levels in that region over the last century. They expected to see global warming manifested in the form of a long-term warming or drying trend, but instead discovered that the forest’s dry spells closely tracked El Niño, the periodic and natural warming of waters off South America that brings drought to some places and added rainfall and snow to others.
The golden toad vanished after an exceptionally dry season following the 1986-1987 El Niño, probably not long after the chytrid fungus was introduced. Scientists speculate that dry conditions caused the toads to congregate in a small number of puddles to reproduce, prompting the disease to spread rapidly.

Via

The Golden Toad was -not- killed by changes to climate. Its extinction was due to a combination of El Niño and a fungus. Some environmental organizations still point to the toad as the first climate change extinction. Not true. 

El Niño and a Pathogen Killed Costa Rican Toad, Study Finds Challenges Evidence That Global Warming Was the Cause

Scientists broadly agree that global warming may threaten the survival of many plant and animal species; but global warming did not kill the Monteverde golden toad, an often cited example of climate-triggered extinction, says a new study. 

The toad vanished from Costa Rica’s Pacific coastal-mountain cloud forest in the late 1980s, the apparent victim of a pathogen outbreak that has wiped out dozens of other amphibians in the Americas. Many researchers have linked outbreaks of the deadly chytrid fungus to climate change, but the new study asserts that the weather patterns, at Monteverde at least, were not out of the ordinary.

The role that climate change played in the toad’s demise has been fiercely debated in recent years. The new paper, in the March 1 2010 issue of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, is the latest to weigh in. In the study, researchers used old-growth trees from the Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve to reconstruct moisture levels in that region over the last century. They expected to see global warming manifested in the form of a long-term warming or drying trend, but instead discovered that the forest’s dry spells closely tracked El Niño, the periodic and natural warming of waters off South America that brings drought to some places and added rainfall and snow to others.

The golden toad vanished after an exceptionally dry season following the 1986-1987 El Niño, probably not long after the chytrid fungus was introduced. Scientists speculate that dry conditions caused the toads to congregate in a small number of puddles to reproduce, prompting the disease to spread rapidly.


Via

This online self-assessment process is a tool to assist communities to reduce vulnerability and increase preparedness by linking planning, mitigation, and adaptation.

The writers are former administrators (under conservative presidents) of the Environmental Protection Agency: William D. Ruckelshaus, from its founding in 1970 to 1973, and again from 1983 to 1985; Lee M. Thomas, from 1985 to 1989; William K. Reilly, from 1989 to 1993; and Christine Todd Whitman, from 2001 to 2003.

Asker cazalis Asks:
Professor Richard Lindzen was on Al Jazeera's Head to Head recently. Did you see it? And what were your thoughts on the debate and his position?
climateadaptation climateadaptation Said:

Hey Cazalis, 

Thanks for following me all this time. Lindzen is a researcher of atmospheric physics at MIT. He basically applies complex mathematical equations (via computer modelling [vs direct observation]) and makes inferences about the earth’s atmosphere

His focus is atmospheric tides, which are similar to oceanic tides. Pretty interesting for about 5 minutes. 

Lindzen is often portrayed as a climate denier, but this is not true. He regularly states that humans do affect long term temperatures by emitting carbon.

The main reason he’s called a denier is because he disagrees with the projected impacts from the well known science, models, and consensus. He thinks the impacts are overstated. He provides no evidence for this. His argument is strange, and journalists do not know how to parse his position. This is why Lindzen gets so much play - he has an obtuse argument sandwiched between big words.

He basically argues that since scientists cannot predict the future of climate with 100% accuracy, he will not predict the future ever, and therefore no one else should either. Sort of like saying we know snake venom is dangerous. But since we cannot predict what it will do to you with 100% certainty, we should not worry about it. It’s a very strange argument to make.  

As far as I can tell, he has not explained or published his evidence for his argument. So, no one in the field of climate change takes him seriously. He’s great at PR though (thus his appearance on Head-to-Head). Also, journalists are (generally) very stupid when it comes to math and scienceSo, he takes advantage of this.

revkin:

.@Reuters jumps PNAS embargo & utterly botches story on new @PIK_climate study of sea level rise per degree warming.

Story headline: “Models point to rapid sea-level rise from climate change”

Paper title (italics added): “The multi-millennial sea-level commitment of global warming

Paper: “[W]e are committed to a sea-level rise of about 2.3 meters [per 1ºC] within the next 2000 years.”

At least Reuters got in a solid quote from lead author Anders Levermann that makes the right point on the right time scale: 

"Continuous sea-level rise is something we cannot avoid unless global temperatures go down again," Levermann said. “Our results indicate that major adaptation at our coastlines will be necessary. It’s likely that some currently populated regions can’t be protected in the long run." 

Much more on sea level realities on Dot Earth, including this recent Google Hangout with top NASA scientists and many earlier posts.

 

Things I learned in journalism: 1) Journalists do not understand anything with numbers and 2) Journalists do not understand science. The effects: No one knows why the Dow Jones is up/down for the day nor do they know if caffeine is good/bad for you. 

Looks to be the same principle here: Reporter skims a report, snags a few quotes from author interview, and runs the piece by their editors. Editors have no clue about science (nor how to fact check it), and kick it out with polished sentences. 

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.

I cannot recall having Wisconsin or Minnesota branded maple syrup.  

The mystifying weather accounts for the record year, he says. “The late spring, combined with all the snow we had, meant temperatures were moderated so that the trees didn’t warm up too quickly.”

Maple syrup is made from sap, and producers need about 40 gallons of sap to make one gallon of maple syrup. Throughout Minnesota, trees produced high levels of sap during the three-week sap run this year, and the sap they produced was good quality, according to Jacobson. In neighboring Wisconsin, producers reported record-breaking levels as well.

Wisconsin’s 2013 maple syrup production was 265,000 gallons, more than five times the production of 2012,” said Greg Bussler with the USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service (PDF). “This is the highest production since NASS began keeping track in 1992.”

Free weather data from aWeather. Covers West and East Africa and South Asia. US and Canada available for purchase. Extent is high resolution (9km x 9km) for past 10 years. It’s web-based, so no software needed. Good tool if you’re into climate data and modeling. 

Global temperatures 1881 - 2010. Each bar is ten years. Colors just help visualize the graph mo beddah. Celsius to Fahrenheit conversion, here.

This excellent graph is from the World Meteorological Organization’s new summary report: The Global Climate 2001–2010 a Decade of Climate Extremes

Most impressive (to me) is how well written it is. Check out how they describe and compare three systems:

El Niño and La Niña episodes, for example, result from rapid changes in the sea-surface temperature in the equatorial Pacific Ocean. They influence weather patterns around the world through the subsequent large-scale interactions and transfers of heat in the coupled ocean-atmosphere system. Other patterns affect the climate by strengthening or weakening high-altitude air currents known as jet streams.

The closely related Arctic Oscillation and North Atlantic Oscillation often affect the northern hemisphere winter. Since the 1990s, these two oscillations have remained mostly in a positive phase, which is associated with warmer and wetter winters in northern and central Europe and the eastern USA, drier winters in the Mediterranean and cold, dry conditions over northern Canada and Greenland.

Unlike these natural back-and-forth oscillations, human-caused climate change is trending in just one direction. This is because atmospheric concentrations of carbon dioxide, methane, nitrous oxide and other greenhouse gases are increasing steadily, due to human activities. According to the WMO Greenhouse Gas Bulletin, global-average atmospheric concentrations of carbon dioxide rose to 389 ppm in 2010 (an increase of 39 per cent compared to pre-industrial times), methane to 1 808.0 ppb (158 per cent) and nitrous oxide to 323.2 ppb (20 per cent).

This changing composition of the atmosphere is causing the global average temperature to rise, which, in turn, exerts a significant influence on the hydrological cycle and leads to other changes in climate and weather patterns.