Climate Adaptation

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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Climate Study: Rising Seas Could Wipe Out Many Cultural Landmarks

Back at UMass-Amherst, my advisers asked me to create a sea-level rise vulnerability assessment of lighthouses along the coasts of Maine and Massachusetts. The idea was to create a method to integrate adaptation techniques into cultural heritage protection policies in New England. Pretty interesting concept. Especially since so much history and so many landmarks are located along coastlines. Instead, I did a study of the first tax-payer funded adaptation plan in the world in a tiny city in Denmark.

npr8:

This is what Okinawa woke up to on Monday morning, around 5:30am. For once I am actually glad I couldn’t get my early morning run in!

—Jannine Myers

Interesting disaster notification app. Any followers know about this app? Where could I find more information?

(via npr)

infinity-imagined:

A warmer Arctic could permanently affect the pattern of the high-altitude polar jet stream, resulting in longer and colder winters over North America and northern Europe, US scientists say. The jet stream, a ribbon of high altitude, high-speed wind in northern latitudes that blows from west to east, is formed when the cold Arctic air clashes with warmer air from further south. The greater the difference in temperature, the faster the jet stream moves.

According to Jennifer Francis, a climate expert at Rutgers University, the Arctic air has warmed in recent years as a result of melting polar ice caps, meaning there is now less of a difference in temperatures when it hits air from lower latitudes. “The jet stream is a very fast moving river of air over our head, but over the past two decades the jet stream has weakened. This is something we can measure,” she said Saturday at a meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science. As a result, instead of circling the earth in the far north, the jet stream has begun to meander, like a river heading off course. This has brought chilly Arctic weather further south than normal, and warmer temperatures up north. Perhaps most disturbingly, it remains in place for longer periods of time.  

Image Credit: NASA Goddard Space Flight Center Scientific Visualization Studio [x]

I have a feeling this was taken out of context.

Connecting the Dots: Adaptation + Mitigation Synergies
Which land should governments protect from floods: urban and coastal cities, or agricultural farmlands?

Interesting argument against governments protecting urban zones over food-production zones. Coastal communities and inland cities are protected from floods and erosion by highly complex infrastructure mechanisms, such as dams, levees, and piping. Agricultural lands do not enjoy the same levels of infrastructural capacity. But, should they? Should farms have an equal amount of protection as cities do?

I am embarrassed I hadn’t heard about The Weather Channel’s climate documentary series, “Tipping Points.”

A tipping point, in climatology, is when a major change occurs to a major environmental system due to climate change, such as a shift in ocean currents or atmospheric circulation. These systems “tip” over from one stable state to another stable state, thus creating an entirely new situation. This new situation is irreversible. Sort of like spilling a glass of wine, you can’t put the wine back in the glass. Climate activists (whom I often disagree with) colloquially call this new state “the new normal.”

The show, Tipping Points, is hosted by Bernice Notenboom, an interesting journalist who combines science writing and adventure travel. She’s pretty good on camera, but most of the show seems to focus on showing 1) a climate change problem as it occurs in the real world (such as drought in the Amazon rainforest) and 2) a series of scientific experiments that aim identify the moment of a tipping point and then figure out how to manage the new system.

Tipping Points: Breaching Climate Stability

Hosted by Climate Journalist and adventurer Bernice Notenboom, Tipping Points embraces commentary from leading climate scientists surveying the complexity of the major tipping points effecting our current climate and their impact on changing weather patterns around the globe.

Adventurous and informative, Tipping Points explores the interconnectedness of all the elements that make up our climate system that influence global and local weather patterns. The Earth is in a delicate equilibrium; once one factor reaches its respective tipping point the other factors will also breach stability. As the atmosphere heats up and the chemical makeup of the atmosphere shifts there will be repercussions felt on a global scale. These elements are what Bernice and her team of climate authorities are going to explore is some of the most remote locations on the planet.

From the canopies of The Amazon to the ice sheets of Siberia, these climate specialists will chase answers to behavioral patterns of tipping elements in the climate system affecting our weather systems. View, here.

Surprise! Sluggish Economy Prompts Europe to Reconsider Its Intentions on Climate Change

There is absolutely no way to reasonably stop countries from emitting carbon and GHGs.

Brilliant, real-time, animated map of earth’s current weather conditions. Must see, here: http://earth.nullschool.net/#current/wind/surface/level/

earth 

a visualization of global weather conditions

  • forecast by supercomputers 
  • updated every three hours    
  • ocean surface current estimates  updated every five days

The London Array is the world’s largest off-shore windfarm. Via NASA.

Twenty kilometers (12 miles) from England’s Kent and Essex coasts, the world’s largest offshore wind farm has started harvesting the breezes over the sea. Located in the Thames Estuary, where the River Thames meets the North Sea, the London Array has a maximum generating power of 630 megawatts (MW), enough to supply as many as 500,000 homes.

The wind farm became fully operational on April 8, 2013. Twenty days later, the Operational Land Imager (OLI) on the Landsat 8 satellite captured this image of the area. The second image is a closeup of the area marked by the white box in the top image. White points in the second image are the wind turbines; a few boat wakes are also visible. The sea is discolored by light tan sediment—spring runoff washed out by the Thames.

To date, the London Array includes 175 wind turbines aligned to the prevailing southwest wind and spread out across 100 square kilometers (40 square miles). Each turbine stands 650 to 1,200 meters apart (2,100 to 3,900 feet) and 147 meters (482 feet) tall. Each is connected by cables buried in the seafloor, and power is transmitted to two substations offshore and to an onshore station at Cleve Hill.

How did they know the global average temperature in 1880? -a curious science follower

A question by Anonymous

Hey anon,

Great question! Simplest answer: thermometers. Simple instruments such as thermometers and barometers have been used for centuries. Governments began to collect data from these instruments beginning in the early 1700s. (There are early data sets, but these focused on local or route specific locations rather than globally. For example, shipping companies collected ocean temperatures during the 1600s along specific routes to report conditions to insurance companies.).

The old-school instruments were placed in locations all around the world (locations ranged from trees, church steeples and clocks, tall poles, cliff faces, to just stuck in the ground). Governments collected the temperatures typically for military, farming, and shipping purposes.

The U.S. Weather Bureau, established in 1735, was sporadically managed by a few individual states (rather than the Federal Government). The bureau collected local information - not global.

In 1814, the U.S. Federal Government established the U.S.’s first nation wide weather service. Army doctors and ‘war’ hospitals were instructed to keep diaries of local weather. But, again, this was not a global system.

In 1870, President Ulysses Grant established the U.S. National Weather Service (NWS):

The beginning of the National Weather Service we know today started on February 9th, 1870, when President Ulysses S. Grant signed a joint resolution of Congress authorizing the Secretary of War to establish a national weather service. This resolution required the Secretary of War:

to provide for taking meteorological observations at the military stations in the interior of the continent and at other points in the States and Territories…and for giving notice on the northern (Great) Lakes and on the seacoast by magnetic telegraph and marine signals, of the approach and force of storms

After much thought and consideration, it was decided that this agency would be placed under the Secretary of War because military discipline would probably secure the greatest promptness, regularity, and accuracy in the required observations. Via NOAA

The NWS worked internationally. It collected data from its own instruments, and also from data shared by other countries, such as Denmark, France, India, and the U.K.

The NWS’s information was collected over time, and digitized into big data sets. These sets are used today!

The chart below shows temperature data over 1,000 years. (NOTE: This chart is from wikipedia entry “Temperature record of the past 1,000 years." I do not endorse this chart. I’m posting for illustrative purposes to help answer anon’s question about records from 1880).

Note the black line (far right). It shows collected instrument data from 1850 to 2004. Data prior to 1850 is collected by climate proxies.

image

Finally, if you’re interested, you can read about the weather data sets collected in the 1850s. This paper, Uncertainty estimates in regional and global observed temperature changes: a new dataset from 1850, covers the history of that data, as well as issues with using it in modern climate models.

Hope that helps!

Cheers!

Michael

"Why I want to kill rare black rhino" - by Corey Knowlton

Winner of black rhino hunting auction states his $350,000 will help save the species. I note this is common practice outside the U.S., and animal reserves and refuges depend on trophy hunting as a major source of funding. The fees hunters pay goes towards breeding, land use/habitat protection, and education programs.

NatGeo summed-up this (very old) practice well

According to a recent study, in the 23 African countries that allow sport hunting, 18,500 tourists pay over $200 million (U.S.) a year to hunt lions, leopards, elephants, warthogs, water buffalo, impala, and rhinos.

Private hunting operations in these countries control more than 540,000 square miles (1.4 million square kilometers) of land, the study also found. That’s 22 percent more land than is protected by national parks.

As demand for land increases with swelling human populations, some conservationists are arguing that they can garner more effective results by working with hunters and taking a hand in regulating the industry.

Sport hunting can be sustainable if carefully managed, said Peter Lindsey, a conservation biologist with the University of Zimbabwe in Harare, who led the recent study.

"Trophy hunting is of key importance to conservation in Africa by creating [financial] incentives to promote and retain wildlife as a land use over vast areas," he said.

The more interesting angle, from my point of view, is why conservation efforts to save the black rhino (and many other species) has failed so miserably. In other words, despite the many millions funneled from traditional conservation groups, why is the black rhino still rare? Overall, untold billions have been spent towards conservation efforts and yet dozens of species fall down, extinct, every month. So, for me, I’d like to see a shift in conservation management towards better and more effective practices. This would begin with a bold admission that efforts to date have failed. 

Highway to the Arctic Ocean, built on melting permafrost, slices through dozens of streams, ponds, and lakes. Why? In anticipation of the Arctic north thawing from climate change giving the Canadian government an edge on extracting natural resources.

Expose’ of this new highway boondoggle at The Globe and Mail.

FML of the day: You can pay to promote your own FB posts to your own FB friends on FB now. Seriously. Click “Promote” on one of your posts. See also.