Bay Area Ecosystems Climate Change Consortium

2014 News

BAECCC Brief: December 24, 2014

There’s a great article in the Rolling Stone by Jeff Goodell on the evolution of the agreement between the US and China to pursue major reductions in carbon emissions. Among other things, we learn that President Obama flew to China for the meetings not knowing if the details of an agreement could be hammered out. And John Kerry’s speech in Lima is also worth a read.

The Office of the President of the UC System has made a $1.9M grant to establish the Institute for the Study of Ecological Effects of Climate Impacts (ISEECI). This institute will use the UC system of Ecological Reserves to detect and forecast the ecological impacts of climate change in California. Centered at UC Santa Cruz, the idea is to leverage the reserve system as a coordinated laboratory for research and monitoring.

Alicia Torregrosa of USGS and her colleagues have published a great summary article about coastal fog and climate change in the journal EOS (many of you will remember Alicia’s presentation at the January 2014 BAECCC meeting). And congratulations to our colleagues at the Sonoma County Regional Climate Protection Authority, who have been named Climate Action Champions as part of a national competition sponsored by the White House.

For those who work with organizations that are conducting science education about climate change, Climate Interpreter is a network providing resources and creating a national community of your colleagues and peers.

The Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS) has produced a great 3 minute video about sea level rise as part of their recent report Encroaching Tides. I found the video segment of a young girl trying to walk to school during a high tide on her street particularly effective. In addition, Peter Frumhoff of UCS has written an excellent blog post about the fact that about half of human emissions of CO2 have occurred since James Hansen testified before the US Congress in 1988 that the anthropogenic human warming signal has been detected.

There is an excellent in-depth article in Grist about the attempts to move the village of Shishmaref, Alaska. It highlights the place-based complexities of shoreline adaptation (physical, logistical, and social), even in the face of the profound threat to this coastal community in Bering Sea.

And finally, an article from the New York Times about the progress being made to reduce deforestation in Central and South America. Stories like this should remind us that we are all part of global movement that is making steady progress toward a more sustainable future.

I hope everybody has a great holiday and a good new year!

Andy

BAECCC Brief: December 12, 2014

The Seattle Times has an excellent article about marine disease outbreaks and their relation to warmer water, integrating observations from the Pacific, Atlantic, and Caribbean. It notes that there are likely multiple factors affecting the spread of marine diseases, including ocean acidification.

Business Week has a profile on George Schulz, who served in the cabinets of both Richard Nixon and Ronald Reagan, and who now is an important Republican voice on the need for climate action. Vice has more about the evolving position of Republicans on climate change, and Rep. Chris Gibson (R–NY) will be introducing a resolution that recognizes the reality of climate change to try get the GOP to "operate in the realm of knowledge and science."

Phys.org reports on recent study of long term eutrophication trends in the Baltic Sea that suggests increasing water temperatures are enhancing eutrophication and eroding the water quality benefits generated by wastewater treatment and reduced fertilizer runoff. Increasing water temperatures in San Francicso Bay in the future can be expected to contribute to enhanced eutrophication as well.

For those interested in carbon capture and storage, Business week has an article about recent developments (and lack thereof). And at Climate Progress, Joe Romm has published a critique of the recent Newsweek cover story about geo-engineering “Science to the Rescue: Can Geoengineering Save the Earth?." Romm likens "geoengineering to a dangerous, never tested, course of chemotherapy prescribed to treat a condition curable through diet and exercise."

NASA is spending millions of dollars on natural infrastructure at the Kennedy Space Center to protect its large coastal rocket launching pads. CBS news reports on the coastal erosion problem they are facing, which is a product of the changing climate, and how they hope to protect the facilities. And a detailed article in Grist describes the efforts to use natural and artificial sediment transport to slow the disappearance of the marshes of Southern Louisiana.

The Federal Government has added an entire section to its data portal (data.gov) that focuses on ecosystems and ecosystem services. This is part of the White House Climate Data Initiative launched in March, and is meant to serve as an entry point for access to the U.S. Ecoinformatics-based Open Resources and Machine Accessibility (EcoINFORMA) initiative, including the EcoINFORMA data resource hubs (Biodiversity, Ecosystem Services, and Land Cover Dynamics), the EcoINFORMA map viewer for visualizing and integrating geospatial data, and access to additional biodiversity, ecosystems, ecosystem services and environmental data resources for use by researchers, decision-makers and the public. (h/t to Alex Leumer)

I hope you all have a great holiday season, and that 2015 is a year of great progress toward a more stable climate and a resilient Bay Area!

Andy

BAECCC Brief: November 28, 2014

The National Conservation Training Center is offering Climate Academy, a six month online course (beginning February 2015) designed to cover the fundamentals of climate science, provide tools and resources for climate adaptation, and increase climate literacy and communication.

The recommendations made by the President’s State, Local and Tribal Leaders Task Force on Climate Preparedness are now available. The Task Force’s recommendations are the culmination of a year of work to solicit input from across State, local, Tribal, and territorial governments, trade associations, academic organizations, civil society, and various other stakeholders and translate their first-hand experiences into action items for the Federal Government to support climate-ready communities. A fact sheet is here, and the on-line U.S. Climate Resilience Toolkit is here. The toolkit contains a section on ecosystem vulnerability, and highlights case studies of adaptation from around the country, including BCDC’s Adapting to Rising Tides program.

The San Francisco Estuary Institute has released a report describing the initial results of its Head of Tide (HoT) project. While it is intuitively obvious that for the tributaries that drain to San Francisco Bay there exists a transition between the fluvial and tidal environments, and this location is vulnerable to out of channel flooding due to the combined impact of fluvial and tidal processes, identifying the location of this HoT region (and where it is likely to be in the future) requires a systematic approach that considers multiple factors. This study focused on creating the framework for a rapid protocol that can be used to delineate the current and future HoT zone for San Francisco Bay tributaries using both “desktop” and field investigations.

Republican Senator (and member of the new Senate leadership) John Thune (R – South Dakota) recently acknowledged that human activity is contributing to climate change and we need to do something about it, as has Lindsey Graham (R- South Carolina). We should celebrate such statements as evidence of progress. Meanwhile, a Fox commentator insists climate scientists are in it for the money, a Congressman introduces legislation requiring that the National Science Foundation investigate a connection between weather and magnetism that he named after himself, and a state representative in Pennsylvania claimed (starting at 8:35) that cow flatulence has a greater impact on the climate than all other human sources (Union of Concerned Scientists response is here). So let’s keep up our efforts and public education and outreach!

An article by Professor Michael Klare of Hampshire College describes the depth of the commitment, for a variety of reasons, of Congressional Republicans to expanding the use of fossil fuels for American energy. He notes "the pro-carbon agenda being pursued by the Republicans would guarantee a planet heated by four to six or more degrees Celsius or six to 10 degrees Fahrenheit."

And lastly, a view on adapting to a changing climate from a resident of Unalakleet, Alaska. And, the subject of climate change was part of the TV show The Newsroom (created and principally written by Aaron Sorkin), in the form of an interview with a Deputy Director of EPA.

I hope everybody had a great Thanksgiving.

Andy

BAECCC Brief: November 11, 2014

Glen Martin has written a nice summary article about the success of the Marin Carbon Project for the Cal Alumni Magazine. The capacity of compost application to enhance (for many years) the uptake of carbon by rangelands is an exciting finding.

For those interested in how climate change has morphed from a question of physical fact to one of belief and values, Andrew Hoffman of the University of Michigan has produced a concise summary of what social scientists have observed regarding the cultural aspects of this issue (The Cultural Schism of Climate Change: How science takes a back seat to identity politics in the U.S.).

The Department of Defense, which has been committed to planning for climate change for many years, is now taking a much more public stand with the issuance of the Pentagon's Climate Change Adaptation Roadmap. Mark Hertsgaard has written an article in Businessweek summarizing importance of the DOD document. It is worth looking at the cover of the report just for the experience of seeing a photo of soldiers on active duty along side a photo of baby sea turtles.

Despite the fact that the vulnerability of Miami to sea level rise is well documented, I am becoming more convinced that it is the Hampton Roads/Roanoke area of eastern Virginia where the evolution of public thinking and institutions is best observed. Old Dominion University has created the Mitigation and Adaptation Institute to work with local government on sea level rise adaptation, and this article notes that the reality of sea level rise is pushing the debate about causes in this conservative region to the sidelines (h/t to Kif Schuer). Issues about tidal flooding, flood insurance, and sea level rise now clearly affecting the real estate market, and this article discusses how homeowners in flood prone neighborhoods are planning proposed modifications to their properties (cost to be shared with the buyer) to make the property more resilient, lowering flood insurance premiums and making them more attractive investments.

A nice summary article about sea level rise vulnerabilities in the Humbolt Bay region has been published in the Eureka Times Standard.

The California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) has announced a new grant program: The Wetlands Restoration for Greenhouse Gas Reduction Program. This Proposal Solicitation Notice (PSN) is funded through the Air Resources Board’s Cap-and-Trade Program as part of its overall greenhouse gas (GHG) reduction strategy. This PSN will support projects that reduce GHGs and provide co-benefits such as enhancing fish and wildlife habitat, protecting and improving water quality and quantity, and helping California adapt to climate change. This Solicitation is focused on GHG emission reduction through restoration or enhancement of Delta and coastal wetlands and mountain meadow habitat, and proposals are due December 19th.

Andy

BAECCC Brief: October 20, 2014

The BCDC Commissioner Working Group on Rising Sea Level has issued a report and recommendation that was considered by BCDC at their October 2, 2014, meeting (minutes here). Among the recommendations are that BCDC consider total water level (sea level plus surge) in its permitting procedures, and that the Bay fill policies should be re-examined given the fact that the Bay will be growing in the coming decades.

The San Francisco Examiner published an interesting article about City of San Francisco’s sea wall that includes discussion of its vulnerability to earthquake and sea level rise. It notes that the City of Seattle is currently replacing its sea wall at a cost of $500 million per mile. The Newport Beach Independent on planning for repairing the sea walls that protect Big and Little Balboa Islands.

Balboa Island flooding, Dec. 2010

Balboa Island flooding, Dec. 2010. Source

All Things Considered from National Public Radio did a story about tidal flooding on the east coast, noting that sea level rise has made such flooding much more common. The story was prompted by the release of a report from the Union of Concerned Scientists about projected flooding on the east and gulf coasts over the next few decades (Encroaching Tides). And, the PBS News Hour has done a feature on the South Bay Salt Ponds Restoration program!

Climate change continues to be an active part of the Florida Governor’s race and other elections around the country, which strikes me as an important development. I was particularly struck by a recent Washington Post article which documents special efforts that were taken in Miami to pump away waters during the recent king tide in Florida. The pumping was conducted to frustrate plans to use the king tide to call attention to the threat of sea level rise.

At Realclimate, Stefan Ramsdorf published a rebuttal to a recent letter to Nature (Ditch the 2°C Warming Goal) about the validity and usefulness of the 2°C goal for limiting global average temperature increase. While some entries at Realclimate can get a little technical, this one is eminently readable and I highly recommend it as an excellent summary of the history of the 2°C target, what it means and doesn’t mean, and the relationship between science and policy in establishing risk. Dave Roberts at Grist has also responded to the letter to Nature.

At Cambridge University the wave attenuation benefits of salt marsh vegetation was measured in the largest laboratory experiment of this type ever conducted (there is even a time lapse video of the construction of the laboratory wetland). The experiment, reported in Nature Geoscience, demonstrated that the marsh reduced wave heights by 18%, with 60 percent of this reduction due to the plants themselves.

Some of you may have seen (or had somebody share with you) Steven Koonin’s piece in the Wall Street Journal (Climate Science is Not Settled), that essentially claims we don’t know enough about climate change to establish policy. MIT climate scientists Kerry Emmuel and Susan Solomon have published an excellent response to Koonin’s article.

Andy

BAECCC Brief: September 20, 2014

350.org has released the movie Disruption about climate change and the importance of the People's Climate March on September 21st in New York City. And 26 members of the United States Senate have signed a letter commending the marchers and stating their unequivocal support for action on climate change, while the cost of energy from renewable sources (particularly utility-scale wind and solar) continue to plummet. I would encourage anybody on the BAECCC list serve who is going to the march to share your experience (concisely) with all of us!

The World Meteorological Organization has created an educational campaign entitled Weather Reports from the Future. In this series of videos, which are being published this month leading up to the UN Climate Summit on Sept 23, WMO has invited TV meteorologists from multiple countries, including those from The Weather Channel, to present weather reports based on plausible future scenarios of weather in a changed climate. The WMO has also published the 2013 global average carbon dioxide concentration data from its global network, and project annual average carbon dioxide concentration will be above 400 PPM by 2015 or 2016.

The Hartford Courant has an article on the release of a draft update to the Long Island Sound Study, a plan first published 20 years ago to restore the ecological health of Long Island Sound. The update includes climate change and sea level rise as issues to be addressed, and calls for increasing the resilience of coastal communities through protection/relocation of coastal facilities. The paper also reports on a dispute regarding construction of a sea wall within the tidal zone of Long Island Sound that went to the Connecticutt Supreme Court. We can only expect that disputes like this between individual homeowners and coastal regulatory agencies will be come more common (and more complex) as we attempt to create shorelines more resilient to sea level rise.

Reuters has just published an extremely well-researched article on sea level rise, focused mainly on the impacts occurring in the mid-Atlantic. Included in the article is the results of their own analysis of tide gauge data, presented in video format, and some great reporting on the emerging conflicts among local, state, and federal officials regarding solutions and costs. Small, low-lying communities, some of which have already retreated over the last few decades, are considering the fact that there may not be government funding available to save them. Additional articles in this series will be forthcoming.

There has been a lot of work conducted recently by social scientists regarding how people are thinking about climate change, and Elizabeth Kolbert has written an article for Audubon that does a great job of pulling this information together. A great quote from Dan Kahan of Yale: "What you 'believe' about climate change doesn't reflect what you 'know,' it expresses 'who you are.'" This article is part of a Audubon's Climate Report (Kolbert's article and others can be found at the bottom of the page under "further reading"). USA Today has an op-ed column about why climate change concerns pro-life Christians.

In a project called After Water, 12 writers have authored stories (available as a series of podcasts produced by WBEZ, a public radio station in Chicago) that seek to blend science and storytelling to create new shades of understanding about what the Great Lakes region could look like in the future. In our region, environmental writer Glenn Martin's story The Great Thirst (January 2007) is an example of this type of powerful climate change storytelling.

The attached article from the Beacon Reader was stimulated by David Ackerly’s presentation at the Ecological Society of America meeting in Sacramento this summer, and ponders the question of how ready we are for the ecological changes (particularly species assemblages) that are coming in our landscape. David helped BAECCC receive permission to distribute this article, but we have been asked not to redistribute it to others.

Finally, Jeff Goodell has published a new article in Rolling Stone entitled China, Climate, and the Fate of the Planet. It is an in-depth look at the Chinese use of coal and their move toward renewable energy, told as he accompanies Secretary of State Kerry on a trip to China to discuss international agreements about emission reductions (who knew Kerry was a guitar-player?).

Andy

BAECCC Brief: September 2, 2014

Here are a few items of interest as we get ready to transition from summer to fall:

Grist has just completed a seven-part series about Las Vegas and climate change. I particularly enjoyed the interview with Patrica Mulroy, the recently retired director of the Southern Nevada Water Authority.

A short piece in the Courier-Journal (Louisville, KY) documents a new voice in Kentucky; elected politicians suggesting that coal is not the economic future of their State. And here's a more in-depth political analysis of the effort to diversify Kentucky's economy.

And in the latest from the Florida Governor's race, where climate change is an important issue separating the two major candidates, Republican Governor Rick Scott was forced to sit down with Florida scientists who explained to him how we know that climate change is being driven by human emissions. The Governor was noncommittal after the meeting, but my hat's off to the scientists who made this happen. The discussion is likely to continue, as it appears papers like the Pensecola News Journal were not satisfied with the Governor's response.

UC Davis Professors Richard Howitt and Jay Lund have published an op-ed in the Washington Post's "Five Myths" series entitled Five Myths about California's Drought. The piece stresses how groundwater withdrawals have greatly eased the pain this year, but it is unlikely that another year with below average rainfall can be addressed using this strategy (even if you don't read the article, click on the link just to look at the August 19 photo of an arm of Lake Oroville). It appears that groundwater withdrawals are the reason a 3,300 ft crack appeared in the ground in Northern Mexico. And a recent study from Cornell (summarized by Climate Central here) suggests that the odds of a decade-long drought in the next hundred years is around 90%, and the odds of a megadrought (50 years) is 5-10%.

The Midwest has seen a 37 percent increase in the amount of rain falling in heavy precipitation events since the late 1950s, and Scientific American notes that this is a key mechanism for delivering the nutrient load to Lake Erie that produced the algal bloom that fouled Toledo's water supply. Meanwhile, the Pacific along Central California is much warmer than normal, as reported in the Los Angeles Times.

On Oct 24th KQED and Stanford are hosting a roundtable discussion entitled The Climate Conservation You Haven't Heard. The event will be moderated by Lesley Stahl, correspondent for 60 Minutes, and the panel includes experts from the Stanford Community including George Schultz, Chris Field, and JB Straubel (co-founder of Tesla).

Given how much we think about sea level rise impacts in the Bay Area, I am always drawn to assessments of sea level rise in other coastal communities. I've provided links to a variety of articles reviewing issues in South Florida, and now Propublica journalists have just produced a well-researched piece in the Huffington Post about the destruction of wetlands, flooding, and sea level rise in the Mississippi delta. The article has a lot of great first hand accounts from residents, and details how past land use/development decisions have made the region more vulnerable to sea level rise. Among other interesting tidbits: NOAA has removed 31 place names from the nautical charts of the region as they no longer exist.

Andy

BAECCC Brief: August 14, 2014

A written summary of the June 26th BAECCC meeting is now available.

Here is an interesting article about the impact of sea level rise on Alameda Island, including a seven minute audio track.

The Safeguarding California Plan has been released by the State of California. This document, which is an update of the 2009 California Climate Adaptation Strategy, includes a set of fact sheets on climate risks to California.

The Los Angeles Times prepared an article that described the unusual monsoon rainfall in Southern California in early August, and Climate Central examined the climate change connection to this 500-year event.

This just in from BAECCC's Bureau for Advancing the Use of the Term Climate-Smart: Secretary of State John Kerry calls for climate-smart agriculture.

Capping a year of testimony from across the California, a report detailing the significant impacts of sea level rise and ways to prepare was released Monday by Assemblyman Rich Gordon (D-Menlo Park). Assemblyman Gordon, who chairs the Select Committee on Sea Level Rise and the California Economy, calls sea level rise a a slow-moving emergency.

Despite the assessment that Miami is doomed in a recent article from Rolling Stone, it is one of the hottest real estate markets in the United States (fueled mainly by investment from South America). The Miami Herald is also reporting that Florida Governor Rick Scott has bowed to public pressure and has agreed to meet with Florida climate scientists on August 19th.

Using ESRI Storymaps, the work of the Rockefeller Foundation's 100 Resilient Cities Challenge has been presented for Oakland, Berkeley, and San Franciscso and other cities in the world. The Rockefeller Foundation is now taking applications for addition cities who want support (a full-time chief resiliency officer is paid for) for adaptation. http://www.100resilientcities.org/pages/100-resilient-cities-challenge?utm_medium=display

And finally, a fascinating article in the New York Times about the author's path from the evangelical frame of science as arrogant disregard of belief in God to accepting the evidence of climate change. She explores how she has maintained both comfort in the face of fear and the spiritual meaning of belonging to something bigger than herself. She encourages secular climate-change activists to recognize that "it is a long journey from finding science arrogant to being humbled by it, and it is only harder to make when you're being blamed for the end of the world" if you deny anthropogenic climate change.

Andy

BAECCC Brief: August 1, 2014

A great BBC TV show, Horizons, which covers cutting-edge science and technology, visited South San Franciscso Bay to talk about wetlands restoration as flood protection as part of their production called "Rising Seas." View the episode here (which features great communications work by John Bourgeois of the Coastal Conservancy).

Here's an interesting article from the Roanoke Times about bi-partisan interest in regional solutions for sea level rise in this very vulnerable area of Virginia. 

I previously recommended reading an article in Dedadlus by Naomi Oreskes and Eric Conway (the authors of The Merchants of Doubt) called The Collapse of Western Civilization, in which a historian in the 24th Century presents an analysis of why humans who saw the climate disaster coming, who were thoroughly and repeatedly warned, did nothing about it. This article (no longer available outside of a paywall) is now available as a short book, and a review (that reveals the story) has been written by Chris Mooney for Climate Desk and Grist. The authors are interviewed by Mooney for the Inquiring Minds podcast.

One tactic adopted by climate change deniers is to compare their work to that of Galileo, by which they insinuate that the vast majority of climate scientists are suppressing evidence-based arguments just as the catholic church did historically (one of the most prominent making this argument is The Galileo Movement in Australia). Since the church was arguing from belief, and climate scientists are arguing from evidence, this comparison doesn't make much sense. Andy Hoffman of the University of Michigan has published a blog post identifying key flaws in this argument.

Former Treasury Secretary Robert Rubin has published an op-ed in the Washington Post making a strong economic argument for addressing greenhouse gas emissions now. (My favorite line: "We do not face a choice between protecting our environment or protecting our economy. We face a choice between protecting our economy by protecting our environment — or allowing environmental havoc to create economic havoc.")

The Little Hoover Commission has just released Governing California Through Climate Change, a report based on expert testimony and research that focuses on current adaptation efforts in California, institutional barriers to adaptation, and recommendations for the state on how to more effectively address climate adaptation. It was great to see that when the Commission needed a quote that synthesized the challenge facing California to wrap up their executive Summary, they turned to the testimony of BAECCC Steering Committee Chair Nadine Peterson (Deputy Executive Officer of the California State Coastal Conservancy)!

Andy Gunther

July

A summary of the June 26th BAECCC meeting is now available. [200 KB PDF]

BAECCC Brief: July 17, 2014

We had a great meeting last month where we reviewed key recommendations from the Baylands Ecosystem Habitat Goals Update, and discussed the preliminary findings from Flood Control 2.0. For those of you who could not join us, we will circulate a written summary of the meeting soon.

A great, detailed article appeared in Virginia Business.com about sea level rise in Norfolk, which is one of the most vulnerable communities in the nation. The emergence of serious impacts on tourism, the naval base, and the port are getting the attention of political leaders who are in denial about climate change.

Ocean acidification is the cover story of Newsweek. The author brings examples in from various parts of the world, with many from the Spanish coast. A recent study documented up to 54% of pteropods (free swimming marine snails) sampled of the US Northwest coast show signs of shell dissolution damage.

A new report authored by the National Park Service confirms that climate change is happening in America’s national parks, sometimes rapidly. These changes will have implications for what visitors see and experience in national parks and will require new approaches to the protection of natural and historic resources within parks. National Park Service scientists compared recent trends to the historical range of variability (1901 to 2012) from 289 national parks. The Union of Concerned Scientists recently published are report (executive summary) that documents how the impacts of climate change a putting many of the country's most iconic and historic sites at risk.

As some may have heard, Florida Governor Rick Scott and other leading Republicans have suggested they don't need to answer questions about climate change because they are "not scientists." This is being mocked as an abdication of responsibility and denial of science by President Obama and others. Now, the Tampa Bay Times reports that ten prominent Florida scientists have asked for an opportunity to explain to the Governor the impact that human-induced global warming will have on Florida. The letter was hand delivered by Jeff Chanton, a professor of oceanography at Florida State University, who said, "It's not rocket science. I can explain it. Give me half an hour."

Andy Gunther

BAECCC Brief: July 1, 2014

The California State Coastal Conservancy has announced a second round of Climate Ready grants. The Conservancy has noted that this round of funding is focusing on projects that are ready to be implemented.

Bill McKibben has authored an op-ed in a Sydney newspaper attacking Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbot for his stance on climate change and fossil fuels. While this comes as no surprise, what caught my eye is how the issue is framed as stigmatizing Australia (with Premier Harper and Canada receiving honorable mention). This is a key part of the rationale underlying the divestment movement as well (while not a BAECCC issue, I have personally pleaded with my undergraduate Alma Mater to divest, and I'm happy to share my letter with anybody who is interested.)

Clive Hamilton of Charles Sturt University in Canberra has authored an excellent opinion piece in Scientific American about the rise of "eco-pragmatists" (epitomized by The Breakthrough Institute). He finds this group side-steps the fundamental aspects of our ecological challenges by suggesting that human technology and ingenuity will be sufficient to address whatever comes (the idea of creating a "good anthropocene"). Hamilton argues that this perspective ignores the scale of change that the industrial revolution has brought to the biogeochemical cycles of the planet, and it encourages us to think that we do not need to change our ways.

Ex-Secretary of the Treasury Henry Paulson authored an op-ed in the New York Times in which he drew parallels between the financial crisis of 2008-09 and economic risks of climate change to argue for strong and immediate action. This is the beginning of the roll out of and analysis of the economic risks of climate change by Risky Business, a non-profit project being led by Paulson, Michael Bloomberg, and Tom Steyer.

The US Conference of Mayors has adopted a resolution that encourages cities to use natural solutions to "protect freshwater supplies, defend the nation's coastlines, maintain a healthy tree cover and protect air quality." (h/t to Alex Leumer).

The US Department of Housing and Urban Development has awarded the State of New York $60 million to build an oyster reef off of Staten Island to attenuate waves as part of making the regional shoreline more resilient to future storms. Marilyn Latta, the project manager of our own Living Shorelines project, has noted that there is a growing concern among practitioners that the definition of "living shorelines" is being stretched to include what are essentially traditional shoreline hardening projects. The attached white paper reviews this question in more detail, concluding, "In short, the term Living Shoreline is being used to describe both well-constructed, vegetative stabilization projects to massive rock revetments where a small planting of marsh grasses seems to be an afterthought."

Rethinking Living Shorelines [939 KB PDF]

Finally, several people have noted to me recently that it is a bit hard to keep track of the various on-line tools available for assessing sea level rise impacts. To address this concern, Climate Central has recently posted a matrix delineating the differences between the currently available sea level rise tools for California.

We had a great meeting on June 26th, with engaging presentations and discussions about the Baylands Ecosystem Habitat Goals Update and Flood Control 2.0. As always, BAECCC will soon be circulated a detailed written summary of the meeting for those who could not attend.

Andy Gunther

June

The next general BAECCC meeting will be held on June 26th, from 10 AM – 2 PM in the 11th Floor conference room at the California State Coastal Conservancy (1330 Broadway, Oakland [12th Street BART]). We will be having discussions about the findings of the Baylands Ecosystem Habitat Goals Update and the Flood Control 2.0 project. The agenda is here, and it contains instructions for joining the teleconference and the "Go To Meeting" if you cannot attend in person.

BAECCC Brief: June 20, 2014

The next BAECCC meeting will be held on June 26th, from 10 AM – 2 PM in the 11th Floor conference room at the California State Coastal Conservancy (1330 Broadway, Oakland [12th Street BART]). The agenda is here. We will be having discussions about the findings of the Baylands Ecosystem Habitat Goals Update and the Flood Control 2.0 project. If you cannot attend in person, the instructions to join via teleconference are at the top of the agenda.

A growing body of work is documenting that the external costs of the full coal fuel cycle are significant, and that even when only health impacts are considered (ignoring carbon emissions), the actual cost of electricity produced by coal is much higher than from many renewable sources (a summary of this information can be found in this article.)

Here is an interesting article from the National Journal about a lawsuit that has been filed in Louisiana claiming that oil and gas companies have not complied with restoration provisions in their permits, and thus have contributed to wetlands loss that is going to be damaging as sea level rises.

A depressing piece by Ezra Klein documents seven key challenges of climate change that make this such a wicked problem. On a more positive note, former US Senators Tom Daschle and Tim Wirth present an alternate model for how to think about international climate agreements that foregoes the binding global carbon cap that presently paralyzes progress among nations (h/t to Sara Hutto). And Joe Romm responds to Klein's seven challenges here documenting that these problems are not insurmountable.

And here is a hopeful and inspiring article from Al Gore that is in the upcoming issue of Rolling Stone. Gore focuses on the remarkable drop in the cost of wind and solar electricity, which has resulted in the growth of installed capacity over the last decade that far exceeded projections made at the turn of the century. And, Elon Musk has announced plans to develop large scale manufacturing capacity for high efficiency solar panels in the United States.

The most remarkable recent item for me was President Obama's commencement speech at UC Irvine, in which he went after climate change denial in a manner that provides great leadership for the role of science in decision-making ("When President Kennedy set us on a course for the moon… nobody ignored the science. I don’t remember anybody saying that the moon wasn’t there or that it was made of cheese.") A video of the speech is here (29 minutes), and a summary is here.

Andy Gunther

BAECCC Brief: June 2, 2014

The California State Coastal Conservancy has announced a Second Round of Climate Ready Grants. This grant round is intended to encourage action by local governments and non-governmental organizations to prepare for a changing climate by the implementation of on-the-ground multiple-benefit projects that provide public benefits while lessening the impacts of climate change on California’s coastal communities and natural resources. A total of $1,500,000 is available for awards, and applications are due August 22, 2014.

Peter Gwynne, who wrote the 1975 cover story for Newsweek about global cooling that is still referenced today in an effort to discredit climate science, has written an article at Philly.com about why this myth should be put to rest for good.

For general climate change education, you might want to link to the 24 card stack from Brad Plumer at Vox "Everything You Need to Know About Global Warming."

Carolyn Kousky of Resources for the Future has authored a interesting Blog post based upon her recent paper in the journal Climatic Change (Managing Shoreline Retreat in the United States: A Three-Part Strategy). And the Washington Post just published an in-depth article examining sea level rise problems in Norfolk, which is one of the most vulnerable cities in the Country. (One of my favorite anecdotes: the Unitarian Church publishes the tide table on the website so members know when they can drive to church).

Here is a remarkable pictorial essay about our current drought, with some stunning aerial photos of changes in the reservoirs behind Folsom and Oroville Dams.

Here is a very interesting article from the New York Times about the growth of carbon markets, centering on an example of a methane digester/generator on a Wisconsin dairy farm that was funded by CA emission fees (Ellie highlighted this article as well in her weekly summary).

We hope to see you at the June 26th BAECCC meeting, to be held in the 11th floor conference room at the California State Coastal Conservancy from 10 AM- 2 PM. We will have a presentation/discussion about the findings and recommendations from the Baylands Ecosystem Habitat Goals Update, and about some of the preliminary findings from Flood Control 2.0.

Andy Gunther

May

A summary of the April 24th BAECCC meeting is now available.

BAECCC Brief: May 19, 2014

The written summary of the April 24th BAECCC meeting is now available. The next BAECCC meeting will be June 26th, where we will be discussing the latest findings of the Baylands Ecosystem Habitat Goals Update and Flood Control 2.0. We hope to see you there!

The US Fish and Wildlife Service has completed Planning for Climate Change on the National Wildlife Refuge System, which evolved from the “Climate Change Primer” familiar to Refuge System planners. Planning for Climate Change will be the go-to document for most planners, managers, and biologists tasked with incorporating climate change considerations into Refuge System planning documents.

Attached is a fascinating article (h/t to Bruce Riordan) about cities being sued in the Chicago area for failing to prevent flooding related to climate change. Illinois Farmers Insurance Company has alleged that that dozens of Chicago-area municipalities are responsible for the damage caused by a two-day downpour last year in April because they are aware that climate change is causing heavier rainfalls but failed to prevent sewage backups by draining water from the region's system of tunnels and retention basins before the storm.

Insurance Company Sues Illinios Cities for Climate Damage [52 KB PDF]

The National Wildlife Federation has released Climate-Smart Conservation: Putting Adaption Principles into Practice. This document examines how climate change already is affecting the nation’s wildlife and habitats, and addresses how natural resource managers will need to prepare for and adapt to these unprecedented changes. Developed by a broad collaboration of experts from federal, state, and non-governmental institutions, the guide offers practical steps for crafting conservation actions to enhance the resilience of the natural ecosystems on which wildlife and people depend.

This piece from the New York Times provides an interesting frame for how climate change might enter Presidential politics in 2016, taking Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) to task for being unable to tell the difference between fact and opinion. Senator Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) has invited Rubio, who recently denied that humans are causing climate change, to the floor of the Senate to discuss this issue. I think the release of the National Climate Change Assessment has put a lot of wind in the sails of those working on mitigation and adaptation, and that the media coverage is reflecting this change.

I know most of you are probably a bit tired of seeing TV news "debates" about climate change, but John Oliver presents a debate about for climate change that is worth taking a look at! (I include this link in case you missed it in Ellie's recent weekly summary)

Andy Gunther

BAECCC Brief: May 7, 2014

An excellent summary of the issues regarding communicating about climate change has appeared in the Smithsonian Magazine. The article reviews much of the recent social science research about why scientists have been unable to generate a sense of urgency, and it also has a diverse array of interesting links related to this issue.

The FY14-15 application period for grant funds to support Local Coastal Program (LCP) planning is now open. Information is available here, and applications are due July 7, 2014.

The Urban Land Institute (ULI) is encouraging its members to consider sea level rise through a set of forums being conducted in Boston. A set of ULI forums are soon going to be underway in the Bay Area, and ULI will be sponsoring a national forum on Building the Resilient City in the Bay Area on September 4th and 5th of this year.

NOAA has developed a great two minute video that shows the rise of carbon dioxide concentrations during the industrial era, and then rolls backward in time to place current carbon dioxide concentrations in the context of the last 800,000 years.

Realclimate presents an interesting account of how an accurate piece of information regarding sea ice extent in 1922 gets spun, has a little falsehood added, and then gets tweeted around as proof that scientific projections about sea level rise are without merit.

Kirsten Howard & Allie Goldstein spent three months (103 days) in the summer of 2013 traveling 17,358 miles around the United States, visiting 31 states. Their goal was to document on-the-ground examples of climate resilience—uncovering stories of people and places adapting to the impacts of climate change. They set out to answer the question: What does climate change adaptation look like? You can see what they discovered here.

For those of you who were not able to join us at the BAECCC meeting on April 24th, we will be circulating a meeting summary soon. I hope we will see you at the next BAECCC meeting on June 26th.

Andy Gunther

April

The next general BAECCC meeting will be Thursday, April 24th, from 10 AM – 2 PM in the 11th Floor Conference room at the California State Coastal Conservancy (1330 Broadway, Oakland [12th Street BART]). Please find the agenda here (instructions for joining by teleconference are on the agenda, and Go To Meeting directions are below).

In addition to some brief updates from BAECCC affiliated projects, we will have two longer discussions. We will be hearing about the changes in progress for Cal-Adapt, including the capacity for users to prepare their own apps to access the Cal-Adapt database (for those unfamiliar with Cal-Adapt, there is an 8-minute video tour describing the data and features that can be accessed from the home page). We will also be discussing with JPC staff the findings and recommendations from their recent analysis of climate adaptation and resilience projects, plans, structures, and needs in each of the 9 Bay Area counties. 

1.  To join the BAECCC meeting online on Apr 24, 2014 at 10:00 AM PDT. https://www2.gotomeeting.com/join/420583002

2.  Join the conference call: 888-232-3870 | Participant Code: 226167 | Meeting ID: 420-583-002

BAECCC Brief: April 22, 2014

Here are a few updates and news items from BAECCC. We hope to see you at the April 24th BAECCC meeting.

SPUR Executive Director Gabriel Metcalf has done an excellent job of framing the Bay Area climate change predicament in his article The Great Dithering. I agree with his conclusion; we can be global leaders in the Bay Area by building a "working prototype" of a sustainable, resilient region. We don't really have a choice. SPUR's Laura Tam also provides an interesting summary of several projects in the region focused on resilience to sea level rise, including some familiar to BAECCC participants such as the South Bay Salt Ponds Restoration project and Adapting to Rising Tides (ART now has a 3-minute video on the home page introducing the project).

There continue to be signs that an El Niño is developing in the Pacific Ocean. The temperature anomalies being recorded are quite high compared to historic values.

Kif Schuer at the Local Government Commission notes that the Property Research firm Grosvenor has a resiliency research report out. The report concludes that "the ability of cities to thrive as centres of human habitation, production and cultural development, despite the challenges posed by climate change, population growth and globalisation, is determined by their resilience. From a real estate investor’s perspective, resilience allows cities to preserve capital values and generate sustainable rental income in the long term. In human terms, cities are resilient if they absorb shocks, like Hurricane Sandy, maintain their output of goods and services and continue to provide their inhabitants with a good quality of life according to the standards of the time."

The CA LCC has $400,000-$500,000 to support 2-4 collaborative place-based projects that lead to climate-smart conservation actions by natural resource managers. Place-based projects develop adaptation strategies and actions in a CA LCC ecoregion or landscape within an ecoregion that can be implemented by the partners. Proposals are due May 12.

Brad Plumer has published an excellent article today in Vox about the 2°C limit. He provides an excellent summary of the evolution of this limit for policy purposes, and he notes that "The idea that the world can stay below 2°C looks increasingly delusional." Rather than just throw up his hands, he ponders what this means and what might be possible next steps.

Andy Gunther

BAECCC Brief: April 9, 2014

We hope to see you at upcoming BAECCC meetings on April 24th and June 26th (both meetings will be at the Coastal Conservancy). At each meeting we will have two presentation/discussion sessions in addition to brief updates from BAECCC-affiliated projects. In April we will be hearing about the changes in progress for Cal-Adapt, including the capacity for users to prepare their own apps to access the Cal-Adpat database. We will also be hearing from JPC staff about the findings and recommendations from their recent analysis of climate adaptation and resilience projects, plans, structures, and needs in each of the 9 Bay Area counties. An agenda for the April meeting will be available soon. In June, we will be discussing the findings and recommendations of the Baylands Ecosystem Habitat Goals Update for climate change, and the San Francisco Bay expansion of the Our Coast Our Future on-line tool that supports planning for sea level rise in the region.

As always, if anybody has a specific recommendation for a topic or project that would be a good fit for our quarterly presentation/discussions, please let me know.

Here's a great article about shoreline resilience and natural infrastructure in New York, with some interesting case study information from an area of the Rockaways where a secondary dune of coastal forest, planted in the early 1990's, provided important protection from Hurricane Sandy.

Climate Central provides an update on the outlook for the wildfire season in the west. At least there is some good news for Colorado and other states, although the California forecast is for a bad fire season.

Here's an interesting and dramatic analysis of equatorial ocean temperatures that point to a very powerful developing El Niño, and a NOAA web page that has some excellent background information on El Niño. I had a recent opportunity to ask Dr. Inez Fung, Professor of Atmospheric Sciences at UC Berkeley, about the chances of a strong El Niño developing. She said she'll be looking at the strength of the trade winds in May; if they are weak, it may be time to fasten our seat belts.

The California Center for Sustainable Communities at UCLA at UCLA has announced the CA Sustainability Research Hub, an online searchable database of over 800 State-funded reports on sustainable communities research. It expands search functionality by allowing users to search CARB, CEC, and Caltrans sustainable communities reports in one place by keyword or by sustainability topic. The Research Hub also provides a brief summary of each report in the results section to help users further refine their search.

And finally, the Union of Concerned Scientists released a report analyzing how accurately cable news represents climate science on their most prominent evening and weekend programs during the 2013 calendar year. The analysis found that CNN segments that mentioned climate science were wholly accurate 70 percent of the time while Fox News segments were 28 percent accurate and MSNBC’s were 92 percent accurate. The report, which includes recommendations for how each network can improve their portrayal of the best-available science on climate change, is available online, along with related charts, methods and raw data.

Andy Gunther

March

The summaries of the January 30, 2014, general BAECCC meeting and the first Policy Working Group meeting are now available.

BAECCC Brief: March 26, 2014

For those who have not seen Rebels with a Cause, the documentary about the creation of the Pt. Reyes National Seashore and the GGNRA (saving these lands from urbanization), it will be coming to public television next month. It will be shown on KQED Sunday, April 20 (6:00 PM) and Wednesday, April 23 (11:00 PM). More information about where to watch the film is here. This film documents the hard work of many people that resulted in the Bay Area having the remarkably wild coast that many of us probably take for granted. I hope that in 40 years another film will document how the hard work of BAECCC participants helped produce a mid-century Bay Area that is resilient to climate stress and ecologically rich!

Most of you have probably already heard about the new report and communication initiative from the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) called What We Know. This 19-page report communicates the agreement and concern among the scientific community about the implications of climate change. The report will be accompanied by a communications program in coming months. Part of that program is a set of videos, and I was particularly impressed with the Q&A video with Marshall Shepherd, Professor at the University of Georgia and past president of the American Meteorological Society, who does a good job of coming up with analogies to help people understand key aspects of climate science.

The political cascade of events in human society that are a likely consequence of climate change have always struck me as one of our great vulnerabilities, as demonstrated in Gwyne Dyer's book Climate Wars and the report Age of Consequences by ex-CIA chief R. James Woolsey and colleagues. This recent op-ed in the New York Times by historian Geoffrey Parker is a fascinating summary of the political and social impacts of the Little Ice Age in the 17th Century, and it underscores the connection between climate, politics, and disruptive social change.

The state of California will conduct another round of grant funding to support local governments in planning for sea-level rise and climate change, and in developing new or updating existing Local Coastal Programs (LCP) consistent with the California Coastal Act. Grants will be available through two coordinated programs: (1) California Coastal Commission LCP Planning Assistance Grant Program, and (2) Ocean Protection Council LCP Sea-Level Rise Grant Program (in partnership with the California Coastal Commission and State Coastal Conservancy). BAECCC will circulate all future information concerning this grant opportunity, so stay tuned!

This article by Paul Rogers of the San Jose Mercury discusses the major droughts that have occurred in CA in the past (major as in lasting up to 180 years!), and also discusses the types of changes that would occur if our current drought were to continue for 10 years or longer. As you might expect, we're not acting like such an event is going to happen ("We're living in a dream world" says Cal State East Bay Professor Scott Stine.)

Artist Isaac Cordial is famous for tackling big political issues through a tiny medium. In his series “Waiting for Climate Change,” Cordial created a set of ephemeral and partially submerged installations to draw attention to rising sea levels. Laced with black humor, these grim and apocalyptic scenes show the consequences of inaction and apathy to environmental issues. The theme of rising floodwaters and drowning are themes repeated throughout his work that reference both climate change and the state of our sinking society.

Waiting for Climate Change by Isaac Cordial

Andy Gunther

BAECCC Brief: March 17, 2014

A written summary of the January 30, 2014, BAECCC meeting is now available. Written summaries of all quarterly BAECCC meetings can be found on our website here.

Nature Climate Change has published an entire issue on the "pause" in global average surface temperature. While this is behind a pay wall, the Carbon Brief Blog has a post that summarizes many of the issues presented in the journal.

As reported in the Wyoming Star Tribune, the State of Wyoming's recent budget resolution has blocked implementation in Wyoming of the Next Generation Science Standards, a set of K-12 standards developed by national science education groups and representatives from 26 states. The purpose of this action is to prevent students from understanding that humans have significantly altered the Earth's biosphere. According to Wyoming Rep. Matt Teeters (R-Lingle), "Teaching global warming as fact would wreck Wyoming's economy." Well, at least we're getting more honest about the rationale for denial.

And speaking of climate change politics, here's an interesting article on the role that climate change might play in the Florida Gubernatorial election in 2014, and the possibility of this carrying into the Presidential election in 2016. The article includes a summary of the recent history climate change action and politics in Florida, and how the reality of sea level rise is beginning to hit home.

Mark your calendars for the next BAECCC meeting, which will be on Thursday, April 24th. Among other topics, we will be discussing the plans for expanding Cal-Adapt. We have another BAECCC meeting scheduled for Thursday, June 26th.

Andy Gunther

BAECCC Brief: March 1, 2014

After five years, Ellie Cohen, President and CEO of Point Blue Conservation Science, will be stepping down as Chair of the BAECCC Steering Committee. I hope everybody will take a moment to thank Ellie for her vision and commitment that helped get BAECCC underway. I'm glad to report that Ellie will still be an active participant on the Steering Committee.I'm also glad to report that Nadine Peterson, the Deputy Executive Officer of the California State Coastal Conservancy who has been serving as the Vice-Chair of the BAECCC Steering Committee, has agreed to now serve as Chair. Maria Brown, Superintendent of the Gulf of the Farallones National Marine Sanctuary, will be our new Vice-Chair. These changes will ensure that BAECCC continues to benefit from thoughtful and committed leadership.

The Corps of Engineers is highlighting natural infrastructure in a couple of program websites, including Engineering with Nature and the Systems Approach to Geomorphic Engineering (SAGE). (I recently learned that part of naming the SAGE program was that this is the color that is produced when green and gray are combined.) The Engineering with Nature site includes a variety of resources and some case studies.

The Coasts, Oceans, and Rivers Institute of the American Society of Civil Engineers has a Living Shorelines Database that includes information on a variety of projects on the Gulf Coast and East Coast (and one project in Washington State).

The SFO, San Bruno Creek, and Colma Creek Resilience Study is getting underway with a grant from the Coastal Conservancy. Here's a short synopsis of the project from the SF Examiner. This is an interesting project given that the study area includes endangered species habitat, BART, Caltrain, two sewage treatment plants, flood control channels, pump stations, and land directly adjacent to SFO.

Tamino at the Open Mind blog has a good post on the difference between skeptics and deniers.

Attached is a short article from Science Magazine that describes the new method that the Australian Bureau of Meteorology is using for forecasting heat waves and their likely impact on communities in Australia. In addition, The National Academy of Sciences and its British counterpart, the Royal Society, have published Climate Change: Evidence and Causes, a primer on greenhouse-driven global warming for general audiences.

Heat Wave Forecasts Debut in Scorching Australia [130 KB PDF]

In Nature Climate Change (subscription required), Todd Sanford and colleagues suggest that "it is time to acknowledge that global average temperatures are likely to rise above the 2 °C policy target and consider how that deeply troubling prospect should affect priorities for communicating and managing the risks of a dangerously warming climate." This papers touches on an issue many scientists discuss privately but not publicly; that on our present course we are going to blow past the 2°C target. One of the authors, Jay Gullege, discusses the paper in a recent blog post.

Andy Gunther

February

The first meeting of the BAECCC Policy Working Group will be on Monday, February 24th, from 9:30 AM – 12:30 PM, in the 11th floor conference room at the California State Coastal Conservancy (1330 Broadway, Oakland; 12th Street BART). A meeting agenda is available, and all BAECCC participants are welcome to attend. A teleconference line is available for those who cannot attend in person (see dialing instructions at the top of the agenda).

The goal of the Working Group is to identify where policy and/or regulatory changes can (1) advance climate-smart conservation in the region, (2) remove existing barriers to climate-smart actions, (3) promote nature-based solutions to existing and future human infrastructure challenges, and (4) have potential for impact in regions beyond the Bay Area.  The Working Group will identify, track and prioritize policy needs, opportunities to address these needs, and actions to take advantage of these opportunities. The Working Group will make recommendations to the Steering Committee, and recommendations approved by the Steering Committee will then form the basis of coordinated action by BAECCC and its partner organizations. Independent of Steering Committee action, individual participants are encouraged to proceed as they see fit.

BAECCC Brief: February 3, 2014

We had some great discussions at our quarterly meeting last Thursday about fog and climate in the Bay Area, and about findings on coastal flooding in Ventura and possible lessons for the Bay Area. As usual, we will be preparing a detailed summary for those who were unable to participate (previous BAECCC meeting summaries are available on our website here).

The attack on climate science continues, with judges offering highly critical decisions about cases brought by climate science deniers. Here's an interesting synopsis of a recent case against the National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research in New Zealand.

Will El Niño arrive unannounced? Despite recent research suggesting extreme El Niño's will become more common, Nature Magazine reports that budget cuts at NOAA have resulted in a significant decline the maintenance of ocean buoys that track this phenomenon. Nearly half of the moored buoys in the Tropical Atmosphere Ocean (TAO) array have failed in the past two years.

E&E has an interesting article about the response of Napa grape growers to the drought, and here's a brief article about the impacts on California's ranchers.

The Christian Science Monitor has a short summary of five myths about the carbon footprint of cars, which as Chevy Volt owner I just find myself obligated to pass along. Should I just keep my old car to maintain a low carbon footprint, or roll down the windows instead of using the AC? Read on.

Finally, as the time approaches for Secretary of State Kerry and President Obama to make a decision about construction of the Keystone XL pipeline, Chris Hayes has produced a compelling piece for MSNBC TV about the psychology of addiction and the importance of framing the President's choice in this context. I think it is one of the best I have seen.

Andy Gunther

January

The next general BAECCC meeting will be Thursday, January 30th, from 10 AM – 2 PM in the 11th Floor Conference room at the California State Coastal Conservancy (1330 Broadway, Oakland [12th Street BART]). The agenda is available here, and instructions for joining by teleconference are on the agenda.

In addition to some brief updates from BAECCC affiliated projects, we will have two longer discussions. The first will examine fog and climate change in the Bay Area, and will be led by Alicia Torregrosa from the US Geological Survey. The second discussion will be led by Sarah Newkirk from The Nature Conservancy and Dave Revell of ESA-PWA, who will discuss the Coastal Resilience Ventura project where their team modeled the combined impacts of coastal and fluvial flooding under a suite of sea level rise scenarios. They will describe their methods and results, and engage the group in a discussion of whether their approach could be useful in the Bay Area.

The California Climate Change Initiative of the Nature Conservancy just released a report entitled Reducing Climate Risks with Natural Infrastructure.” The report draws on experience from nine case studies in California and makes a compelling case for conservation as an effective tool to reduce risks of a changing climate. You can download the report here.

BAECCC Brief: January 14, 2014

The next BAECCC meeting will be on January 30th, from 10 AM – 2 PM, in the 11th Floor conference room at the California State Coastal Conservancy (1330 Broadway, Oakland; above the 12th street BART station). At the meeting Alicia Torregrosa from USGS will be leading a discussion about fog and climate change in the Bay Area. We will also hear from The Nature Conservancy/ESA-PWA team that has been working on the Ventura River delta, and in particular how they have modeled tidal and fluvial flooding in combination and the implications of this work for scenario planning and decision making. I will circulate an agenda about a week before the meeting, and I hope to see you there!

The New York Times has published an excellent article about water availability in the Colorado River basin. Among other interesting facts covered in the article is that the existing legal structure for sharing of water among the downstream states results in Arizona giving up half of its share of the Colorado before California gives up any. For those water nerds among us: you can track the water level in Lake Mead at near real-time on this site.

Michael Northrup of the Rockefeller fund has published an article that describes the many accomplishments on the climate action/renewable energy front in just the last three years. He argues that while we still have a long way to go, there is reason for optimism. Given some of the grim reports I have shared recently, I thought I should definitely include a link to this article.

The New York Times just published a good summary about sea level rise on the East Coast, pointing out the importance of land subsidence in exacerbating the problem. There is an interesting account of an island community in Chesapeake Bay that has already been abandoned due to sea level rise in the 20th Century.

And just in case anybody isn't sure that Donald Trump is a fool, a report on his Twitter feed will convince you. Phillip Bump attempts to explain the science to Mr. Trump, the New Yorker warns of climate change-related facial injuries, and John Stewart describes the War on Carbon. In an unusual step, White House Science Advisor John Holdren released a video describing why the recent cold snap in North America does not refute the theory of global warming, and he goes on to argue that changes in circulation of the polar vortex like we are observing could actually be an outcome of climate change (an issue about which there is definitely a scientific debate).

Andy Gunther

BAECCC Brief: January 2, 2014

The next BAECCC meeting will be January 30th, where we will be hearing from Alicia Torregrosa of the US Geological Survey 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 (assuming the federal government doesn't shut down again). More information about the meeting will be available soon.

A recent post at RealClimate provides a great analysis of the various reasons why the "pause" in rate of increase in global average temperatures does not mean there is a "pause" in global warming. I am particularly fond of the argument that while you can argue there has been "no global warming in the last 15 years" by starting an analysis of global average temperatures in 1998 (major El Niño year), you can also argue there has been "extreme global warming in the last 13 years" by starting your analysis in 2000 (La Niña year).

This article from USA Today takes a close look at Norfolk, VA, one of the cities in the US most susceptible to the impacts of sea level rise. Already in Norfolk if you want to go to the Unitarian Church, or you want to leave or enter certain neighborhoods, you need to consult the tide tables. They have elevated over 30 houses and two roads.

Attached is a detailed review [705 KB PDF] about tidal wetlands and sea level rise that appeared last month in Nature. The authors stress biophysical factors that tend to stabilize wetlands, noting that in the past 4,000 years sea level has risen 2 meters but observations of the drowning of wetlands are infrequent. They note that human impacts are the main source of wetland loss, and conclude that "the fate of coastal wetlands is perhaps more intrinsically linked to the complex economic and sociological decisions aimed at protecting coastal infrastructure from the impacts of climate change than the rates and magnitude of the change itself."

For some worst case analysis, an article in The Nation summarizes some recent conclusions regarding enhanced emissions of methane from the Arctic ocean, discusses the potential for abrupt climate change, and reviews some predictions about a +3-4°C world from several different scientists (spoiler alert; it's grim). It is important to note that arctic methane flux to the atmosphere is currently a small component of global emissions, and there are physical factors that likely will keep the rate of change fairly small in the near term (see this post on RealClimate by David Archer). The real question is how quickly the rate of emissions of greenhouse gases from arctic soils and sediments could rise. This risk of this occurring is very real, and I believe it is a key driver of the urgency of our work.

Andy Gunther