Bay Area Ecosystems Climate Change Consortium

2013 News

December: BAECCC convenes workshop with Bay Area ranchers and rangeland managers

BAECCC convened a half-day workshop in Livermore on the afternoon of December 4 for ranchers, public rangeland managers, and rangeland experts entitled Managing Rangelands in Increasingly Uncertain Times. The goal of the workshop was to bring these groups together to begin to identify conservation strategies to sustain the numerous ecosystem benefits of rangelands that could be at risk in an increasingly uncertain environment, in part due to climate change, and support the needs of public land managers and the Bay Area ranching economy in responding to those changes.

Rangeland experts presented challenges facing ranchers and public rangeland managers, including climate change, and opportunities to mitigate potential impacts using examples from the Sacramento Valley. The last session consisted of break out groups addressing five topics selected by the participants (about 50 people attended). The topics were education and outreach on the importance of rangelands and the role of ranchers in providing ecosystem services, strategies for cross-jurisdictional coordination, synergies or conservation strategies with multiple benefits, data and information needs, and rangeland conversion.

Initial feedback has been very positive, and a compilation of post-workshop surveys will be prepared so that a more detailed evaluation can be made. BAECCC will soon make summaries from the breakout groups and workshop presentations available as we consider our next steps to follow up on this productive day. The workshop was co-sponsored by the California Rangeland Trust and the Alameda County Resource Conservation District.

BAECCC Brief: December 13, 2013

BAECCC convened a half-day workshop in Livermore on the afternoon of December 4 for ranchers, public rangeland managers, and rangeland experts entitled Managing Rangelands in Increasingly Uncertain Times. The goal of the workshop was to bring these groups together to begin to identify conservation strategies to sustain the numerous ecosystem benefits of rangelands that could be at risk in an increasingly uncertain environment, in part due to climate change, and support the needs of public land managers and the Bay Area ranching economy in responding to those changes.

Rangeland experts presented challenges facing ranchers and public rangeland managers, including climate change, and opportunities to mitigate potential impacts using examples from the Sacramento Valley. The last session consisted of breakout groups addressing five topics selected by the participants (about 50 people attended). The topics were education and outreach on the importance of rangelands and the role of ranchers in providing ecosystem services, strategies for cross-jurisdictional coordination, synergies or conservation strategies with multiple benefits, data and information needs, and rangeland conversion.

Initial feedback has been very positive, and a compilation of post-workshop surveys will be prepared so that a more detailed evaluation can be made. BAECCC will soon make summaries from the breakout groups and workshop presentations available as we consider our next steps to follow up on this productive day. The workshop was co-sponsored by the California Rangeland Trust and the Alameda County Resource Conservation District.

This article from the Press Democrat reports on low oxygen levels (2mg/L) detected at a buoy off the coast of the Bodega Marine lab (at both 100 feet and 10 feet in depth). While some of the most famous dead zones (such as in the Gulf of Mexico) are clearly caused by nutrient input that enhances microbial activity and depletes oxygen, that is not the case in our waters. Instead, it appears that there is less oxygen in surface waters due to warmer temperatures, and the upwelling of oxygen-poor deeper water leads to dropping average levels detected.

The Georgetown Climate Center has announced interest in providing in-kind legal and policy support for state and local climate adaptation policies. They are currently seeking applications from government entities (or NGOs working with government entities) that need legal or policy support to identify or implement policies, such as drafting model codes, analyzing existing legal authority for policy implementation, or drafting model language for conservation easements or other policy tools. More information and an online application are available here.

The US Geological Survey (in conjunction with the College of Earth, Oceanic, and Atmospheric Sciences at Oregon State) has announced the availability of a web tool that allows one to access maps and summaries of historical and projected temperature and precipitation changes for the 21st century for the continental U.S. at a county-by-county level. The maps and summaries are based on NASA downscaling of the 33 climate models used in the 5th Climate Model Intercomparison Project and the current Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Assessment Report.

Andy Gunther

BAECCC Brief: December 3, 2014

Ex-Congressman Bob Inglis (R-South Carolina), who attributes his 2010 primary defeat to his position that climate change is real and caused by GHG emissions, has formed the Energy and Enterprise Initiative to engage American conservatives regarding climate change. An interesting example of his messaging is a recent op-ed in the Tampa Bay Times. I had a chance to meet Bob last year when he was in the Bay Area, and he told me that he felt there would be steady progress in bringing the conservative community away from denial to discussing action. He did say that he didn't think those from the political left would have any success in this regard, and proposed that people like me wait "in the middle" until people like him can bring folks from the right for a discussion. Maybe this piece from a conservative Teton County Commissioner in Wyoming suggests Bob is making progress.

In case you missed it, the Living Shorelines Project was just written up in the San Francisco Chronicle. This is a great example of a well planned and executed public outreach effort as was discussed at BAECCC's messaging workshop (see the July entry in news on BAECCC website for more information about the workshop). To learn more, contact Marilyn Latta at the State Coastal Conservancy.

There has been a lot of recent public discussion regarding nuclear power as a climate solution, particularly in concert with the release of the movie Pandora's Promise, and a letter from climate scientists James Hansen, Ken Caldeira, Kerry Emanuel, and Tom Wigley on this topic. I found the attached critical review [144 KB PDF] of the movie from the Nuclear Intelligence Weekly very compelling, along with Steve Clemmer's blog post at The Equation (disclaimer: I sit on the board of the Union of Concerned Scientists).

In keeping with BAECCC's interest in things climate smart, an article about climate smart agriculture was recently published by Bruce Campbell of CGIAR, the Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research (their name is a mouthful like BAECCC, but at least our acronym rolls off the tongue!).

Finally, although not a pleasant read, I found Roy Scranton's piece in the New York Times Learning How to Die in the Anthropocene very thought provoking. Scranton presents the imperative for climate adaptation by tying together his experience as a soldier in Iraq with the inevitable growth of instability in human societies as the strain from climate change builds through this century. Be forewarned that in his view painful and dangerous changes are unavoidable.

Andy Gunther

November: A written summary of the October 18th BAECCC meeting is now available.

BAECCC Brief: November 4, 2013

A written summary of the October 18th BAECCC meeting is now available. For those who were not able to attend our meeting in San Francisco (perfectly timed to coincide with the BART strike), we had a great discussion about how BAECCC might effectively engage in advancing climate-smart policy in our region and in Sacramento. Louis Blumberg of The Nature Conservancy led the discussion, and he provided the attached list [57 KB PDF] of California State Climate Risk Reduction Planning Activities for your information. The next general BAECCC meeting will be on Thursday, January 30, 2014.

BAECCC has also completed the first draft of our Strategic Science Plan. The purpose of the plan is to encourage research and monitoring that clarifies (1) the impacts of climate change on Bay Area ecosystems and the significance of these impacts for human communities, and (2) actions that managers and planners can take to mitigate and/or adapt to these impacts. BAECCC is grateful to the work of the Ocean Climate Initiative, The Baylands Ecosystem Habitat Goals Update, and Terrestrial Biodiversity Climate Change Collaborative, for developing a lot of information that we could use to draft the plan. This document will be evolving over time as new information becomes accessible and resources are made available for revision.

I have been asked to serve on the advisory committee for Cal-Adapt. Please feel free to contact me if you have ideas for improvements/expansions of Cal-Adapt that you might want me to pass on.

As you may have already heard, President Obama has created a new federal task force to enhance climate preparedness in the nation. A fact sheet about the task force is available here.

Andy Gunther

October: The agenda for the October 18th BAECCC meeting is available.

BAECCC Brief: October 4, 2013

On Monday I distributed a schedule for the release of climate-related documents for the State of California from Governor's Office of Planning and Research, and I noted that there could be changes to this schedule in the near future. Well, that didn't take long. Attached please find a revised version of the schedule [59 KB PDF].

In addition, an important climate change message that was highlighted at BAECCC's Communications Workshop in June (and by many other professionals nationwide) is the fact that climate change is not just a future problem. Climate change is happening now. A valuable reference for those seeking to deliver this message is the report recently released by the Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment of the California EPA Indicators of Climate Change in California (full report; summary report). This document, an update of their 2009 report, is the product of work over the past decade, and provides valuable review of indicators including:

  • Drivers of climate change (GHG emissions and concentrations, black carbon concentrations, acidification of coastal waters),

  • Changes in climate (average air temperatures, extreme heat events, winter chill, freezing elevation, annual precipitation)

  • Physical impacts (snowmelt runoff, snow water content, glacier change, sea level rise, lake and delta water temperatures, ocean temperature, oxygen in the California current)

  • Biological impacts (mosquito born diseases, tree mortality, wildfires, vegetation distributions, migratory bird arrivals, and sea bird breeding success, among others).

Among the trends identified in the indicators:

  • Temperatures: The state’s high, low and average temperatures are all rising, and extreme heat events also have increased in duration and frequency. The rate of warming has accelerated since the mid-1970s, and night time (minimum) temperatures have increased almost twice as fast as maximum (daytime) temperatures.

  • Wildfires: The number of acres burned by wildfires has been increasing since 1950. The size, severity, duration and frequency of wildfires are greatly influenced by climate. The three largest fire years on record in California occurred in the last decade, and annual acreage burned since 2000 is almost twice that for the period 1950 to 2000.

  • Water: Spring snowmelt runoff has decreased, indicating warmer winter temperatures and more precipitation falling as rain rather than snow. Earlier and decreased runoff can reduce water supplies, even when overall rainfall remains the same. This trend could mean less water available for agriculture, the environment and a growing population.

  • Coast and Ocean: A number of indicators reflect physical and biological changes in the ocean, impacting a range of marine species, including sea lions, seabirds and salmon. And data for Monterey Bay shows increased carbon dioxide levels in coastal waters, which can harm shell-forming organisms and have impacts throughout the marine food chain.

  • Species Migration: Certain plants and animals have responded to habitat changes influenced by warming. For example, conifer forests in the Sierra Nevada have been moving upslope and certain small mammals in Yosemite National Park have moved to higher elevations compared to the early 1900s.

We hope to see at our next meeting, Friday October 18th, from 10 AM – 2 PM at the offices of the Bay Conservation and Development Commission, 50 California Street, 26th floor, San Francisco.

Andy Gunther

September: Due to the great interest in BAECCC's November 2012 workshop Climate-Smart Actions for Natural Resources Managers (we had a wait list of interested people we could not accommodate), BAECCC is again offering this workshop (in a slightly abbreviated form) on September 24th. This is an introductory workshop designed for non-scientists (including natural resource managers, planners, regulators) who want a better understanding of predicted climate change impacts and how to incorporate "climate smart" actions into their work.

The workshop will be held on Tuesday, September 24, 9 a.m. – 12:30 p.m., at the offices of the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation, 1661 Page Mill Road, Palo Alto.

Registration is open, the agenda is available, as is a set of "Principles for Designing and Implementing Climate Smart Actions."

BAECCC Brief: September 30, 2013

I hope that we will see you at the next BAECCC meeting, which will be at the Bay Conservation and Development Commission (50 California Street, 26th floor, San Francisco) from 10 AM – 2 PM on Friday, October 18th. In addition to updates from BAECCC participants regarding projects underway, we will have two presentation/discussion sessions.

Alicia Torregrosa of the US Geological Survey will present about climate change and fog in the Bay Area, drawing upon the work of a team of investigators working on this topic as part of the Terrestrial Biodiversity Climate Change Collaborative (TBC3). She will present some of her team's results regarding past trends, current measurements, the challenges of projecting our future fog regime, and lead a discussion of future research directions.

In addition, Louis Blumberg of the Nature Conservancy will lead a discussion regarding what we know about the current state of climate risk reduction and response policy (as distinguished from emission reduction policy around AB 32), which is evolving rapidly in California. We will hear from BAECCC participants regarding what policies/regulations they see as restricting their ability to implement climate-smart conservation, and consider appropriate next steps for BAECCC in this area.

BAECCC conducted a workshop on Climate Smart Actions for Natural Resource Managers on September 24th at the Moore Foundation, and we will be posting the presentations and other information soon on the California Climate Commons.

The 11th Biennial State of the San Francisco Estuary Conference will be held in Oakland at the Marriott Hotel on October 29-30, 2013. This year’s theme, “20/20 Vision: Past Reflections, Future Directions,” both celebrates the 20th anniversary of SFEP’s Comprehensive Conservation and Management Plan, and focuses our attention on the many challenges ahead. I will be serving as the moderator for the plenary session on the first day, which will include an address from Ellie Cohen (President of Point Blue Conservation Science and Chair of BAECCC's Steering Committee) entitled Climate-Smart Estuary: Nature-based Solutions for a Secure Future. There will also be a panel discussion about wetlands restoration as a nature-based solution for the impacts of sea level rise that will be led by Carl Guardino, Executive Director of the Silicon Valley Leadership Group. It is very exciting to see the Bay Area business community becoming engaged in using ecosystem restoration to prepare for climate change! To get more information about the conference:

Conference Updates

The conference program

On-Line registration is open (The Early-Bird rate of $240 is available through October 8th)

Hotel rooms at the conference hotel are available (Reservations must be made by September 30th

Attached please find a schedule for the release of climate-related documents from the State of California [44 KB PDF] that has recently been issued Governor's Office of Planning and Research (Schedule State Climate Change documents.pdf). Please note that additional items will continue to be added to this chart, and the various timelines and more detail will likely be added in near the future, particularly about 2014.

The 2014 recruitment period for the Postdocs Applying Climate Expertise (PACE) fellowship program is now open. Postdocs apply cutting-edge climate research expertise to specific problems that affect your day-day decisions in managing the impacts of climate change (in the Bay Area we have seen the value a PACE fellow can bring to our community through the work of Dr. Benét Duncan on climate change indicators at the Gulf of the Farallones National Marine Sanctuary). The postdocs are co-hosted and mentored by a decision-making institution and a climate research institution. NOAA and the decision-making institution each support half of the cost of a two-year fellowship appointment. If you have question about the PACE program please contact Meg Austin (University Corporation for Atmospheric Research P.O. Box 3000, Boulder, CO 80307 U.S.A. 303-497-8630).

Andy Gunther

August: The meeting summary from the July 10th BAECCC meeting is now available.

July: On June 26, 2013, BAECCC convened a workshop that brought together communications officers, program directors, and other Bay Area project leaders who are actively engaged in climate-related communications campaigns to discuss how to improve their efforts to reach stakeholders and develop a more cohesive narrative. Helping BAECCC sponsor the workshop were The Nature Conservancy, The California State Coastal Conservancy, the California Landscape Conservation Cooperative, the San Francisco Estuary Partnership, and the San Francisco Bay Joint Venture.

The workshop (agenda here) included three plenary sessions reviewing the latest research and practice regarding communicating about climate change with stakeholders. Ellen Hanak, Co-Director of Research and Senior Fellow at the Public Policy Institute of California, gave a presentation about public perception and the challenges of climate change communication. Curtis Below, Vice President at FM3, presented about the strategic communications process and used voter support survey data for AB32 and the Restoration Authority as case studies.

The third plenary session consisted of a panel discussion about working with elected officials. Adrienne Alvord, California and Western States Director, Union of Concerned Scientists, moderated a panel that included Mark Stone, State Assemblymember (CA-29A), Josh Huber, Senior District Representative for U.S. Congressman Eric Swalwell (CA-15), and Tom Roth, Environmental Consultant for State Senator Noreen Evans (CA-2).

The workshop also featured twelve breakout sessions where specific programs highlighted their planned or ongoing work and received feedback from attendees and identified collaborators for building more effective messaging efforts. A report from the Workshop will be available soon that will include information from evaluations provided by the attendees and potential next steps for BAECCC to undertake.

July: BAECCC is pleased to announce that the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation has renewed their support for BAECCC through a grant to the California State Coastal Conservancy. We are indebted to the efforts of the BAECCC Steering Committee who worked effectively as a team to demonstrate the value and need for BAECCC's program in the Bay Area. This grant will support BAECCC's work in the Bay Area through 2015.

June: President Obama delivered a speech at Georgetown University on June 25th regarding the actions his administration is going to take to combat climate change. It is certainly the most forceful and detailed address on the issue ever given by an American President.

You can see a the speech here, and there is a set of info graphics also available.

June: The next general BAECCC meeting will be Wednesday, July 10th, at the offices of the California State Coastal Conservancy. The agenda for this meeting will focus on upland habitats. In particular, Wendell Gilgert of Point Blue Conservation Science (formerly PRBO Conservation Science) will be presenting some of the ideas for "climate smart" range management emerging from his work in the Sacramento Valley. BAECCC is planning a workshop on climate-smart actions for working lands, and we will use Wendell's presentation to initiate a discussion about how best to bring these ideas to ranchers and public land managers in the Bay Area. In addition, we will be discussing some of the recent findings from the Terrestrial Biodiversity Climate Change Collaborative.

A formal agenda will be distributed about a week before the meeting.

May: A written summary of the April 25, 2013, BAECCC meeting is now available.

May: The San Francisco Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve, a BAECCC partner, has received an award from the National Estuarine Research Reserve Science Collaborative to implement their proposal entitled Improving Management Outcomes of Sea-level Rise Modeling Through Standardized Sampling of a Key Model Input: Total Suspended Solids Above Tidal Marshes. BAECCC supported this proposal to enhance our region’s capacity to confidently project sediment accretion in tidal marshes, as this will improve planning and management decisions in our region.

The project will begin in September, 2013, and will continue through August, 2014. Those interested in obtaining more information should contact Matt Ferner at the SF Bay NERR.

May: BAECCC has completed Five-Year Strategic Plan. Starting from a statement of BAECCC's 30-year vision and long-term goals, the plan presents four desired outcomes that will be the focus BAECCC's work in the coming years. This document will be available in hard copy as well, so let us know if you would like a hard copy (or if you would like several in order to distribute to others).

We look forward to working with all BAECCC participants to make our vision a reality: in 30 years the Bay Area will still be one of the world's most beautiful and ecologically diverse metropolitan areas, supporting vibrant and healthy wildlife populations and human communities.

April: The agenda for the April 25th BAECCC meeting is now available. Summaries of previous BAECCC meetings are available here.

April: Dispatches from the Home Front, the ongoing series of articles from Bay Nature, is now available here.

March: The next BAECCC meeting will be on April 25th, from 10 AM - 2 PM, at the offices of the Bay Conservation and Development Commission (50 California Street, 26th Floor, San Francisco, CA)

March: The Bay Institute released has released the research report entitled The Horizontal Levee that was mentioned during the discussion of resilient shorelines at the January 31st BAECCC meeting. It examines the ecological and economic benefits of using restored tidal marshes to protect San Francisco Bay shoreline development against flooding caused by sea level rise. According to the study, horizontal levees, (aka: tidal marshes,) could not only reduce flood control costs in the Bay by almost 50%, but barrier marshes would also restore critical habitat for endangered species such as the California clapper rail and the salt marsh harvest mouse.

The San Jose Mercury News published an article about the study on February 22. Sonoma Index Tribune’s publisher David Bolling recently accompanied The Bay Institute’s Marc Holmes on a tour of Tolay Creek lagoon south of Sonoma, and Bolling’s full story is here.

February: A written summary of the BAECCC meeting held on January 31st is now available. This document contains a detailed description of an excellent discussion about developing resilient shorelines in the Bay Area, including summaries of 14 short presentations made by a diverse array of individuals representing organizations working on wetlands restoration and shoreline resilience in the Bay Area.

February: One of BAECCC's newest participants, the Bay Area Flood Protection Agencies Association, recently prepared a short white paper entitled Sea Level Rise and Our Low Lying Communities: A Flood Control District Perspective. This is a very important initial assessment about a regional vulnerability to climate change that was discussed at the BAECCC meeting on January 31st by Mitch Avalon of the Contra Costa County Flood Control District.

The vulnerability of our low lying communities to flooding during atmospheric river events was recently in evidence in East Palo Alto, where emergency actions were necessary in December 2012 to protect a levee (a description of the event with some photos is available here and here).

January: The latest edition of Estuary News, produced by the San Francisco Estuary Partnership, is focused upon climate change in the Bay Area and will be of great interest to all BAECCC participants. In addition, this edition (February 2013) includes a special insert from the California Landscape Conservation Cooperative entitled Creating Science-based Tools for On-the-ground Climate Change Planning and Adaptation: 9 Tales of Change. On of these tales is a story about BAECCC's November 29th workshop (Climate Smart Actions for Natural Resource Managers). The story (Climate Smart How To?) includes a special PDF version of the Principles for Designing and Implementing Climate Smart Actions and the Bay Area case studies of climate smart natural resource management that were presented at the workshop.