NOTE: BAECCC was active from 2010-2017. This website is an archive of that content.

Bay Area Ecosystems Climate Change Consortium


BAECCC Brief: December 12, 2017

The New York Times reports on how melting glaciers have created an agricultural bonanza in Peru, supporting a export industry and urban growth in areas that will not be sustained as the glaciers disappear. An article in the Washington Post describes how some highland communities in the Andes are looking to revive historical water management infrastructure to enhance water resources of their region in the face of climate change.

An article on Grist examines the results of the first models of future sea level that include ice-cliff instability, which results in some scenarios with sea level rise up to 6 feet or more by 2100 if there are no controls on carbon emissions. This study and others that suggest higher sea level rise than previously projected are summarized by the Washington Post.

Vox reviews the recent report by McKinsey (Focused Acceleration) that identifies priority actions for cities committed to climate action. They conclude cities can make a major contribution toward 2030 targets (even without the US government), but it means taking on the challenge of coordinated action on many fronts simultaneously. The San Francisco Chronicle reports on the planning underway to rebuild the seawall in San Francisco, with the goal of making it more resilient to earthquakes and sea level rise. Mother Jones describes how Hurricane Irma exposed the challenges posed by flooding in Jacksonville, FL, including the environmental justice implications in this community.

Inside Climate News has a detailed article on beach erosion in Nag’s Head, North Carolina, which demonstrates the complexities facing coastal communities as sea level rises. The city has spent millions buying out homeowners after storm damage (which reduces the tax base), and mining sand to replenish beaches. The article notes “of North Carolina's 160 miles of developed beaches, three-quarters of it is slated for nourishment. A couple of decades ago only 12 miles were nourished regularly”). The city’s efforts have been hampered by homeowner lawsuits and lack of federal funding. Meanwhile, Bloomberg reports that the Moody’s Investor Services (credit rating agency) has started integrating exposure to sea level rise and other threats into its ratings of state and local bonds.

As Ellie previously noted in her summary, an analysis by Nature Conservancy scientists shows that conservation and changes in land use and management – like forest management, and wetland and grassland restoration – could achieve as much as 17 percent of the cumulative greenhouse gas reductions California needs to meet its 2030 climate change goal (A summary of the study is on the Conservancy’s blog). A companion analysis (both published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences) concluded that nature-based solutions can provide 37 percent of the global emissions reductions needed to keep warming below 2 degrees Celsius. The scale of these estimated contributions surprised the research team given their use of conservative assumptions, and is good news for our ability to manage greenhouse gas concentrations. The Washington Post has a detailed look at recent discovery of vast peat reserves in the rainforests of the Congo Basin, and the challenges facing those seeking to preserve these intact rainforests from exploitation that would reduce their capacity to store carbon.

The Los Angeles Times reports on research from Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory that concludes the loss of arctic sea ice will increase the frequency of high pressure in the eastern Pacific, leading to less precipitation and more drought in California. This is the first time atmospheric modelers have addressed this question in detail, and their results suggest more “ridiculously resilient ridges” in our future.

Inside Climate News reports on EPA Administrator Pruitt’s statement before Congress that EPA will review the science of the endangerment finding using a "red team, blue team" exercise as soon as January. Dr. Peter Frumhoff of the Union of Concerned Scientists has provided a proper assessment of this use of public funds: “Scott Pruitt's call for a 'red team, blue team' debate on climate change is a farce and a distraction. If he has questions about climate science, he should turn to the U.S. National Academy of Sciences, not hacks from the Heartland Institute."

Vox interviews German sociologist Harald Welzer regarding his new book about Climate Wars…not the most pleasant topic. Welzer notes that climate change will increase the likelihood of human conflict, which he says that despite ideological motivations is already resource-driven at its core (“it’s not that difficult to see that, say, mass migration due to climate change will lead to social disruption and potentially violent conflict.”) Welzer points out that “we have a freedom to act, which means we can change things.”

The world we get will be the world we choose. So, let’s get busy!


BAECCC Brief: November 26, 2017

The New York Times has an excellent Q&A on climate change (Climate Change Is Complex. We’ve Got Answers to Your Questions). Author Anthony Doerr has an op-ed in the Times about the World Scientist’s Warning to Humanity: Second Notice, while the Guardian reports on how extreme weather events appear to be raising public concern about global warming.

Salon reprints an article from Alternet that describes how melting permafrost is exposing bacteria and viruses that had been dormant in frozen conditions but upon thawing become active. In 2016, an anthrax outbreak killed a boy in Siberia, and the source of the bacteria spores was traced back to an anthrax-infected reindeer that died in 1941 and thawed during the 2016 heat wave.

The New York Times has a detailed article about Houston after Hurricane Harvey, describing the interaction of hydrology, politics, and policy that exacerbated the impacts of the storm. The article notes that the most dangerous storm event for Houston has yet to occur; one that drives a storm surge up the Houston ship channel and floods the oil refineries and related petroleum and chemical industry infrastructure. Bloomberg reports that insurers are seeing a future where the cost of catastrophe insurance will be unaffordable. The article quotes Tom Herbstein of the University of Cambridge: “Climate change fundamentally challenges the existing insurance business model because it is rendering actuary analysis in many places obsolete.”

The Washington Post reports on the first volume of the fourth National Climate Assessment (Climate Science Special Report), a regular science report mandated by Congress to inform the nation and our government about climate change, which was released this month despite fears earlier this year that the Trump administration would try to stifle its rollout. Several of the report’s authors have an op-ed in the New York Times, and it is reviewed by Jeff Goodell in Rolling Stone, and by Joe Romm at Climate Progress (Romm notes that the Trump Administration “approved a report finding Trump's climate policies would devastate America”).

After three years of very little growth in global carbon emissions, Inside Climate News reports that it is projected 2017 will show a 2% increase. Although emissions growth is slowing in India, and emissions are slowing declining in the US, China is burning more coal this year due to a drought reducing hydropower availability. The article notes that “human-caused carbon emissions have grown at an average annual rate of 3.5 percent since 2000, but at a slower pace of 1.8 percent between 2006 and 2015, according to the Global Carbon Project.”

The Guardian reports on a recent laboratory studying the impact of ocean acidification on calanoid copepods, examining both the impact of acidification alone and when combined with predation. While both changes to chemistry and introduction of predators affected the populations of calanoids, the simultaneous actions of acidification and predators was greater than the sum of the two impacts alone. This suggests that synergies exist that will make some climate impacts more extreme.

Michael Bloomberg and Jerry Brown have an op-ed in the New York Times describing America’s Pledge, an initiative that “will document the progress we are making — and the bolder actions we must still take — to meet our Paris commitments.” Elizabeth Kolbert has an article in the New Yorker about the need for negative carbon emission (she notes this technology “has become vital without necessarily being viable.”)

Bloomberg Markets reports that the City of Miami will be voting on a $400M bond measure to address impacts of climate change (the Miami Herald reports the bond passed). The article identifies Measure AA as a pioneering sea level adaptation proposition approved by voters. The Post & Courier describes the result of a Surfriders Foundation report on beach management in South Carolina and nearby states in the face of sea level rise, and the Washington Post reports on recent research that describes how specific Atlantic shore locations likely will face different levels of sea level rise depending upon which portions of the Greenland ice sheet melt quickest.

I hope everybody had a good Thanksgiving.


BAECCC Brief: November 11, 2017

Dave Roberts has an excellent piece at VOX on the issues surrounding the Trump Administration’s attempt to repeal and replace the Clean Power Plan. He notes in particular the cost-benefit distortions Pruitt’s EPA is attempting to insert into their analysis to justify their pursuit of a much more limited rule. In another piece, he documents the Trump administration’s doomed effort to save the coal industry, noting “bad policy could mildly slow coal’s decline, good policy could radically accelerate it, but no policy could stop or reverse it, short of nationalizing the energy sector.” Ken Kimmell, a lawyer and President of the Union of Concerned Scientists, reviews the implications of key pending legal challenges regarding climate change.

The Berkeley Energy and Resources Collaborative has an informative (and saddening) description of the proposed cuts to the budget of the Environmental Protection Agency, which would gravely damage this government agency. The Rolling Stone describes the impact of proposed cuts to the National Weather Service, which will be eliminating improved forecasting services at the time they are needed most. The article notes that three-day hurricane forecasts are now nearly as accurate as one-day forecasts were when Katrina struck 12 years ago, as demonstrated by the forecast for Hurricane Harvey.

The New York Times reports on the findings of the General Accounting Office regarding the cost of climate change to the US. GAO conservatively estimates these costs as currently tens of billions of dollars (clearly an understatement for 2017) and rising into the future (Inside Climate News reviews the GAO report as well). CNN has a good summary of the relationship between climate change and extreme storms, and the Houston Chronicle reports on the massive freshet generated in Galveston and Matagorda Bays by the runoff from Hurricane Harvey.

Inside Climate News has a very thoughtful article based on the increasing frequency of intense downpours and consequent flooding. It notes that small-scale flash floods “were responsible for the second-highest number of weather-related fatalities in 2016 (only heat killed more people),” and then examines in detail the response of the Evangelical Christians in White Sulphur Springs, W. VA, to the flash flood that occurred there on June 23, 2016. Inside Climate News has detailed look at the sea level rise challenge for Norfolk, VA, and Naval Base Norfolk, including an excellent 6 minute video (no surprise: it is a very large challenge). The New York Times reviews the “broke and broken” National Flood Insurance Program.

The Washington Post reports on new research reaffirming that seas have risen quite rapidly in the planet’s past, and that major glaciers have retreated quickly because their enormous size makes them potentially unstable. New modeling suggests relatively fast changes of these kind are possible, especially in the “business as usual” scenarios in which humans continue to burn high volumes of fossil fuels. The Post also has a brief description of some steps being taken by major cities around the world in response to sea level rise.

An op-ed in the New York Times reviews The Lancet Commission report regarding the health impacts from climate change. The article notes that the commission has found is that climate change is already affecting human health in serious ways, with damages “far worse than previously understood.” Yale Environment360 reviews the documented decline in insect populations worldwide, and the implications of this for natural and agricultural ecosystems.

PBS has produced an interesting video analysis of the issues around the use of nuclear power in New York. While New York has adopted goals for 50% of its power to come from renewable sources by 2030, at present over 50% of the non-fossil fuel electricity in the state is provided by nuclear power.

I just finished reading Jeff Goodell’s new book The Water Will Come. I have considered Goodell, an editor at Rolling Stone, to be one of our best writers about climate change since I read his 2013 article Goodbye Miami, and I highly recommend this book to all who are interested in climate change and sea level rise. Goodell visits Miami, Norfolk, Venice, Lagos, and coastal Alaska among other locations (his visit to Alaska was with President Obama), and he weaves the stories of these places with the science into an effective and compelling narrative.

And finally, Vanity Fair has a short article on Bill Nye in anticipation of the new film Bill Nye: Science Guy. Bill Nye has become one of the leading public voices for climate action, and is particularly well known in the Millennial generation (I can personally attest to his popularity after spending a day with Bill in the halls of Congress, where I suggested he should call himself Bill Nye: Selfie Guy). The New York Times has a short review of the movie.


BAECCC Brief: October 23, 2017

The Washington Post reports on the results a 26-year study that suggests a significant soil feedback in the climate system (the hypothesis that warmer temperatures would lead biogenic release of CO2 from soil driving further warming). The paper in Science concludes that 17 percent of the carbon has now been lost from the upper layer of soil of the heated plots, which when extrapolated to the scale of the planet represents millions of metric tons of CO2. While scientists note that suddenly heating small plots of soil may not mimic the mechanisms of gradual heating across and entire forest, the results raise important questions as this feedback loop is poorly represented in global climate models.

Meanwhile, The Guardian describes a report in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences from The Nature Conservancy and collaborators that suggests afforestation, along with better management of forests and other terrestrial ecosystems, can make a significant contribution to reducing carbon concentrations in the atmosphere. Their estimate, 37% of reductions committed to in the Paris Accord, is 30% higher than a previous UN estimate. The New York Times has an interesting article about the challenges of reforestation in Iceland, a country that struggles with desertification.

The New Republic has an excellent article about the impact of sea level rise in a rural community in northern Florida. Coastal forest is transforming into salt marsh due to increased salinities, and a reduction in rainfall is squeezing the oysterfishers and peanut farmers. The locals, however, are quite confident these are impacts of a natural cycle. The New York Times summarizes a recent economic study suggesting that losses for southern states, strong bastions of climate change denial, will be more significant than in the “blue” states.

The Climate Solutions Caucus in the House of Representatives is now at 60 members (Democrats can only join if they have a Republican partner), and Senator Graham (R-South Carolina) and Senator Whitehouse (D-Rhode Island) are reported to be working on climate legislation. The Atlantic has an article about the impacts of Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico, with in-depth accounts of potential for chemical contamination due to the flooding of polluted sites.

The New York Times reports that the EPA website “Climate and Energy Resources for State, Local, and Tribal Governments” has been changed to “Energy Resources for State, Local, and Tribal Governments.” The Environmental Data and Governance Initiative notes that this site has been reduced in size by about half, and all references to climate have been removed.

CNN reports that Administrator Pruitt has decided to reverse a proposed science-based policy for protection of the Bristol Bay Watershed from mining interests. This action occurred shortly after meeting with the CEO of the company that has proposed development of the Pebble Mine in the middle of the world’s largest sockeye salmon fishery. This is a pattern that unfortunately has been repeated many times in the Trump Administration.

President Trump has nominated Kathleen Hartnett White to head the Council on Environmental Quality. Inside Climate News reports that White, who calls carbon dioxide the “gas of life,” considers the endangerment finding to be a danger to human health and the environment. She has called global warming “a creed, a faith, a dogma that has little to do with science,” according to the New York Times. Well, glad we have all cleared up…


BAECCC Brief: October 12, 2017

The Guardian has an article describing the history of the argument that “climate scientists are just in it for the money.” And the New York Times reviews the history of California’s auto emissions standards, highlighting the important role played by Mary Nichols, who has twice served as the Chair of the California Air Resources Board.

Salon has an excellent article examining the growing pressures for retreat from the coast, how inland regions are not prepared such a migration, and the growing interest changing the National Flood Insurance Program. Slate reports on the recent king tide in Miami.

Bay Nature has a great article about the Labor Day heatwave in San Francisco, noting that despite the accurate forecasts of the heatwave regionally very small meteorological changes produce significant variability in the accuracy of forecasts for specific locations. The New York Times reports on the impact of climate change on the duration and dryness of California’s diablo winds.

An editorial in the Sun-Sentinel in Southern Florida demands that Florida officials get real about climate science. The Los Angeles Times has an in-depth look at the Trump Administration’s efforts to replace and disempower key senior staff at EPA and the Department of the Interior.

The Washington Post reports on the latest major calving event from the Pine Island Glacier in west Antarctica, including evidence that a new calving mechanism is becoming evident based upon intrusion of ocean water under the glacier’s ice shelf.

The Washington Post reports on a study that concludes tropical forests may no longer be acting as carbon sinks and could be releasing more carbon than they store. The authors reach this conclusion by combining the effects of forest degradation and disturbance with the impacts of deforestation. Researchers found nearly 70 percent of the loss is caused by small-scale degradation, the result of selective logging, drought and wildfire. They note that policies to curb deforestation, reduce degradation and restore land could turn forests back into carbon sinks.

And if you have a few extra bucks, Salon reports that Rapper B.o.B has GoFundMe page to support his research to prove the earth is flat. The celebration of ignorance continues.


BAECCC Brief: September 25, 2017

The Mercury News reports on a National Academy of Sciences workshop in San Francisco, the goal of which was to seek engineering, environmental and social solutions to the urban challenges posed by a changing climate. The workshop stressed the expected impact to the Bay Area from sea level rise and storm surges, noting the economy is dependent upon a complex network of roads, power, wastewater treatment facilities and railroads that are vulnerable to sea level rise.

Sherri Goodman, former Deputy Undersecretary of Defense, notes at CNBC that while military leaders and other planners know that extreme storms are increasingly likely as the climate warms, as a nation we have not yet taken the steps we need to prepare ourselves for these events. The Washington Post reviews the ongoing debate about attribution of individual weather events to climate change.

The Washington Post notes that Hurricane Irma demonstrated an impact meteorologists understand in theory but rarely see: strong wind and low pressure changing the shape of the ocean. Eugene Robinson in the Washington Post has an article (one of a hearteningly large number; for example, here, here, here, here, and here) about the need to acknowledge climate science. The Years of Living Dangerously produced a short video about Irma (part of their #ClimateFact video series) that has been seen by 36.3 million people on Facebook and shared 600,000 times. An author from Florida provides a perspective on her state’s relationship with nature in the Washington Post, while also in the Post is a perspective on the retreat and relocation from vulnerable coastal locations.

The New York Times summarizes the effects of one of the worst western fire seasons in history. While total acres burned is unlikely to top the 10 million acres of 2015, the fires have been closer to population centers and have therefore had a larger human impact. Sarah Coefield, an air quality specialist with the Missoula City-County Health Department, provides a first-hand account from Montana. Inside Climate New reports on a recent study projecting the spread of the Southern Pine Beetle along the Atlantic Coast into Maine and the Maritime Provinces of Canada.

The New York Times reviews the Trump administration’s approach to climate change, which they term a “war on science.” In one recent piece of evidence, Scientific American reports that President Trump has disbanded a government advisory committee intended to help the country prepare for a changing climate. NOAA established the committee in 2015 to help businesses and state and local governments make use of the next national climate assessment.

The New York Times has an article that reviews the ecological implications of the impact of climate change on parasites. An article in Eos describes methods for removing carbon dioxide from the air by increasing the alkalinity of the oceans.

The latest segment in the video series Global Weirding with Katharine Hayhoe is an excellent presentation for public audiences of why “natural cycles” are not the cause of the climatic change we are observing today. Dave Roberts has published a great perspective on climate denial in the Republican party, explaining clearly that additional scientific information is not going to hold sway in what has become a tribal phenomenon. And Justin Gillis of the New York Times provides a great perspective on the real uncertainties about climate change, and how these uncertainties support the argument for climate action.

Finally, Should Climate Denial be a Crime? This article at the Outline makes the case that individuals who have the power to advance precautionary policies based upon the probability of impacts, such as the Director of Houston’s Flood Control District, but instead ignore the evidence, are criminally negligent. My lawyer friends tell me, however, that there are legal principles and precedents that protect many such individuals from litigation.


BAECCC Brief: August 23, 2017

Paul Krugman in the New York Times has an excellent article on climate change denial in the Republican party, and an op-ed in the Miami Herald focuses on denial among political leaders in Florida. In contrast, Stanford Professor Noah Diffenbaugh has an op-ed in the New York Times describing California’s efforts to reduce carbon emissions and build resilience to the changing climate. Also in the New York Times, Harvard Professors Geoffrey Supran and Naomi Oreskes summarize their recent research that concludes, based upon a quantifiable discrepancy between Exxon Mobil’s scientific findings and its public statements, that the company misled the public about the state of climate science and its implications.

The Denver Post reports on the President Trump’s new executive order that reverses the Obama administration policy requiring federal agencies and recipients of federal funds to consider flood risk from sea level rise when planning new infrastructure (Washington Post report here). The Years of Living Dangerously produced a short video in response.

The Atlantic has an interesting article about California’s cap and trade system, focusing on its administrative structure as a non-profit Delaware corporation that facilitates international collaboration. The Los Angeles Times reports on the political problems facing the Republican Assembly leader Chad Mayes and other California Republicans who voted to extend the cap and trade program. The Executive Director of the Tahoe Regional Planning Agency writes about the importance of confronting climate change in that region.

Ex-Mayor of New York Michael Bloomberg describes in the Guardian how Donald Trump is actually helping the United States meet its goal pursuant to the Paris Climate Accord. Vox reports on the legal challenges mounting against Administrator Scott Pruitt and the US EPA as it attempts to reverse or delay environmental regulations. An article on Huffington Post notes that media sources like Breitbart are trumpeting the fact that Al Gore’s new movie An Inconvenient Sequel: Truth to Power is grossing much less than An Inconvenient Truth, but this ignores the impact of the film through streaming outlets and other video sources (particularly outside the United States).

The New York Times reports on the growing impact of coastal erosion in California driven by climate change, focusing on the work of Patrick Barnard and his colleagues at the USGS. The Minneapolis Star-Tribune reports on the population explosion of Eastern larch beetles in Minnesota, which have killed or damaged about a third of the state’s tamarack trees. Like with other forest pests, these insects are now surviving winters with more regularity and going through multiple generations in a single summer due to a warmer climate.

The Economist reports on the construction of the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam on the Blue Nile, and its implications for water availability downstream in Egypt as climate changes. Contentious negotiations are underway between Egypt, Ethiopia, and Sudan regarding the waters of the Nile, but many outside observers do not think adequate consideration is being given to the impacts of climate change. An article at the Associated Press describes reductions in projected coal use in India due to increases in energy efficiency and other factors.

The Rocky Mountain Institute’s new report Positive Disruption describes scenarios for rapid transitions in energy, agriculture, and land use and concludes “an energy transformation big enough and fast enough to hold the global average temperature rise to well below 2 C°, although daunting, is both practical and possible.” (h/t Joe LaClair) The RE100 initiative, which consists of global corporations that have publicly committed to using renewable sources for all their energy needs, has now surpassed 100 members. GreenBiz reports that half of these companies are targeting 100% renewable energy by 2020, and some have already achieved that goal. (h/t Tom van Dyck)

And finally, there is the Trump Forest: Where Ignorance Grows Trees. The goal of this effort is “…to plant a global forest to offset Trump's monumental stupidity.”


BAECCC Brief: August 11, 2017

Chris Mooney at the Washington Post summarizes a recent interview of Jerry Brown, describing how Brown’s international stature has grown in response to Trump’s withdrawal from the Paris Accord. Mooney also reviews a recent paper that adds to the growing evidence that the melting of the Arctic ice cap will have important influences on the Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation, resulting in significant cooling in the northern Hemisphere.

Meanwhile, the New York Times reports on extreme heat in the South that is a hazard for those who work outdoors and another issue that is fueling a growing movement for environmental justice. The Times also reports on the recent heat wave in the Northwest, which is driving the installation of air conditioning in communities that have never needed it before (Time Magazine describes the growing global importance of air conditioning, a technology presently based upon using greenhouse gases [HFCs]). And the Washington Post describes new research suggesting that even if earth’s climate is stabilized at 1.5°C higher than preindustrial, El Niño events will increase in frequency for a subsequent 100 years.

The Atlantic reports on recent research that calculated the carbon reduction impact of Americans switching from eating beef to eating beans, a change that is estimated to meet half of the US emission reduction commitment under the Paris agreement. The New York Times summarizes a recent study that suggests recent higher rates of sea level rise along the south Atlantic coast are tied not to changes in the Gulf Stream, but rather shifts in the Atlantic Decadal Oscillation and El Niño conditions. The evidence at this point is correlative, and the physical mechanism is still uncertain.

Joe Romm describes the growing housing bubble in Miami, where according to a recent survey 64% of property buyers did not ask their real estate agents about sea level rise. Indeed, as the Washington Post points out, flooding in Miami Beach is no longer big news. Scientific American has an excellent article about the growing evidence of changes in the real estate market in the Miami area, as property elevation becomes more important, and how discriminatory laws and practices dating back to the Jim Crow era caused these higher elevation properties (farther from the shore) to be owned by people of color.  

Kathleen Rest, Executive Director of the Union of Concerned Scientists and a public health expert, has an excellent blog post documenting how the Trump administration has put public health at risk through delays and rollbacks of science-based health standards. The Hill reports on the resignation of long-time EPA scientist Elizabeth Southerland, who stated in her resignation letter "the truth is there is NO war on coal, there is NO economic crisis caused by environmental protection, and climate change IS caused by man's activities."

Bill McKibben in the Guardian reminds us of the foolishness of the policy of not talking about climate change, this time surfacing at the US Department of Agriculture as described by Inside Climate News. The San Jose Mercury urges Congress to reject as unqualified Trump’s nominee for Undersecretary of Agriculture for Research, Education, and Economics, profiled here in the LA Times.

The Climate Solutions Caucus in the House of Representatives, which Democrats can only join in tandem with a Republican colleague, has now grown to 50 members.


BAECCC Brief: July 28, 2017

Inside Climate News reports on the long-anticipated calving of a Delaware-sized iceberg from the Larsen C ice shelf in Antarctica. More info on the berg (which has a volume twice that of Lake Erie), is available here from Project Midas, where project scientists note that this is a natural event without a known link to climate change. An op-ed in the New York Times (Warnings From Antarctica) places the calving in the context of global changes in the cryosphere.

Inside Climate News reports on a recent study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences suggesting we have been underestimating carbon emissions from thawing arctic soils. Given that there is presently twice as much carbon in these soils as in the atmosphere, this is not welcome news. Investigators focused on assessing emissions for October - December, a period the year not previously examined in IPCC models. The authors determined that emissions from October through December have increased by 73 percent since 1975, suggesting that global climate models are underestimating carbon emissions from arctic soils by not accounting for respiration during the fall season.

2017 is already shaping up to be an extreme fire season; Inside climate News reports that as of April two million acres had burned, which is nearly the annual average for fire seasons in the 1980s. In 2015, the Forest Service spend more than 50% of its budget fighting fires for the first time in its 112-year history. This new normal for wildfires has been called the “pyrocene” by fire historian Stephen Pyne, and has started an important debate regarding how to alter our fire prevention strategies.

New York Magazine has a sobering article (The Uninhabitable Earth) that describes the severe, destructive impacts to civilization of the business as usual scenario where emissions growth continues unabated (and the earth’s climate sensitivity turns out to be very high). The author describes possible changes from an average temperature rise of 6 – 8°C. The Washington Post reviews critiques from climate scientists who suggest the article is a bit “over the top” by focusing on such a scenario without considering its probability. However, I agree with Dave Roberts, who points out that asking the question “how bad could it get?” is useful, and it is “weird for journalists and analysts to worry about overly alarming people regarding the biggest, scariest problem humanity has ever faced.”

The agricultural sector is becoming a more important participant in greenhouse gas reduction as recently noted by Inside Climate News. This happening as the sector becomes more aware of its need for resiliency, and through the recognition that farm practices like soil carbon sequestration through cover cropping can make farmland more productive and efficient.

The Union of Concerned Scientists has published a national assessment of sea level rise impacts (When Rising Seas Hit Home) that focuses on chronic inundation, based on the rationale that “there comes a threshold of sea level rise–induced flooding that makes normal routines impossible and drives hard choices.” The authors established an indicator of chronic inundation for coastal communities as flooding at least every other week that covers 10 percent or more of its land area (excluding wetlands and areas protected by federal levees). Co-author Kristy Dahl published a blog post that examines the implications of their findings for the Bay Area. In related coverage, the Washington Post reviews the status of National Flood Insurance Program.

The extension of California’s cap and trade program further solidifies California’s global leadership in achieving Paris Accord targets and beyond, as noted by the New York Times editorial board. And don’t miss the latest short video about Bay Area wetlands restoration from the SF Bay Joint Venture.

Finally, Michael Lewis has an in-depth article about the Department of Energy in Vanity Fair. Lewis demonstrates the risks being created for the country by the Trump Administration’s distain for science and its ignorance of the role of government in American society.


BAECCC Brief: July 7, 2017

Glen Martin has a great piece in the California Magazine asking big questions about how California adapts to sea level rise and other climate change risks. He interviews Berkeley professors Robert Bea, Kristina Hill, and Mark Stacey about the physical changes coming, and the types of changes we need to think about making in order to prepare for this altered future. (h/t Doug Wallace) And don’t miss Glen Martin’s superb 2006 article The Great Thirst.

Climate Central reports on recent research investigating the carbon storage capacity of desert basins and how this might change as these areas warm further. The New York Times reports about the continued rise of atmospheric carbon dioxide concentrations despite a leveling of human emissions, suggesting that sequestration of carbon from the atmosphere has slowed.

The New Yorker has an excellent article from coal country in eastern Pennsylvania, profiling the work of a local activist seeking to move the regional beyond coal and the realities she and her neighbors face as economic forces beyond their control impact the coal industry. In the light of the recent heat wave in the Southwest that grounded airplanes in Arizona, Time Magazine reviews the impact of future heatwaves on aspects of infrastructure and human health.

In 2015, Stanford Professor Mark Jacobsen and colleagues published an article in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences concluding it is feasible to power the US grid with 100% renewable energy by mid-century. Recently, another article in PNAS refuted Jacobsen’s findings, claiming that there were unrealistic assumptions and analytical errors that make Jacobsen’s conclusions incorrect (these authors strongly support the aggressive expansion of renewable energy, but suggest that Jacobsen’s analysis “oversells” renewables ability to contribute by mid-century). Jacobsen and colleagues have responded, both in a version for general readership and in the journal itself. An analysis of the two sides of this debate in the New York Times suggests Professor Jacobsen was overly optimistic about the scaling up of electricity storage and the capacity to increase hydroelectric generation (Inside Climate News also analyzes the debate here). In looking at this rather bruising debate, how anybody concludes that scientists would collude to perpetrate a hoax is beyond me.

UC Davis Professor Mark Lubell has published an analysis of how our nine counties and over 100 jurisdictions might collaborate to address the regional challenge presented by climate change. Funded by the National Science Foundation, the study is based on many interviews, surveys and workshops, and offers a wide range of recommendations.

Why is Exxon-Mobil supporting a carbon tax? Dave Roberts at VOX has a great analysis of Exxon’s position in the context of coming changes in fossil fuel markets. Christiana Figueres and colleagues set out a six-point plan in Nature for the vital task of turning the tide of the world’s carbon dioxide emissions by 2020.

John Abraham at the Guardian reviews recently updated satellite temperature measurements, which show a definite warming trend. He also examines the history of cherry-picking satellite data by climate contrarians. Ben Santer’s op-ed in the Washington Post makes it clear that our leading climate scientists are willing to resist the Trump Administration’s parade of lies, “alternative facts,” and flat-out nonsense. I added in my two cents in a blog post for the Union of Concerned Scientists.


BAECCC Brief: June 23, 2017

Inside Climate News reports on a new study of flood frequency for the East Coast that concludes current 100-year floods could increase in frequency 40 times by 2050. The study used updated estimates of sea level rise and return frequencies for different conditions. Instead of approximating the frequency of flooding using the same multiplier for different flood types (as done by the IPCC), which they conclude had the effect of overestimating certain flood risks in some areas and underestimating them in others, this study used probability distributions for both historical flood frequency and projected SLR to project a range of flood frequency changes in the future. They conclude that while “some places can expect disproportionate amplification of higher frequency events and thus primarily a greater number of historically precedented floods, others face amplification of lower frequency events and thus a particularly fast growing risk of historically unprecedented flooding.”

San Francisco and eleven other cities have joined Chicago in hosting information about climate change on their websites that has been removed from the EPA’s website (and now South Bend, Indiana, has joined this group). The Guardian reports on greenhouse gas reductions and climate change resilience efforts in four US cities: New York, San Francisco, Miami, and Houston. Senator Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) has an op-ed in The Hill calling for political action by major corporations to support climate action and counter the misinformation efforts of the fossil fuel industry.

The Argus Leader has an interesting story about a wind turbine citing ordinance in Lincoln County, South Dakota. A recent decision to require a half-mile setback from residences, which will limit the number of turbines in the region, may be the subject of a county-wide referendum with farmers and energy developers seeking to overturn the ordinance. The Hill reports that the wind industry has undertaken a major advertising campaign regarding the economic benefits of their industry in rural America. They are producing video ads, with the goal of influencing members of Congress and the Trump Administration (right on cue, the President recently was bashing wind power in Iowa, where it employs over 7,000 people).

The Los Angeles Times reports on NASA research to develop more precise ways to measure snowpack than the manual methods that have traditionally been used in the Sierra Nevada. Long-time Chronicle environmental reporter Jane Kay has a wonderful retrospective in National Geographic on the restoration of San Francisco Bay (h/t Warner Chabot).

Even the German government felt the need to fact-check Trump’s inaccurate speech in which he withdrew the US from the Paris Accord (here is the take from The Economist). Meanwhile, Inside Climate News reports that Germany and California will collaborate as part of the Under 2 MOU, and the Washington Post describes the results of a new study that concludes the Mississippi delta is subsiding at a faster rate than many previously thought.

The New York Times reports on climate change resilience in Rotterdam, a city that has embraced the concept that one needs to “live with wet feet” now and then. Previous articles in this series focused on Mexico and China. The Guardian reviews flooding in Houston, where growth of the city has greatly expanded the amount of impervious surfaces, contributing to increased urban flooding. Of great local concern as well is the chance of a major storm surge in the Houston Ship Channel, which would likely cause the release of large quantities of crude oil and refined products.

Tangier Island in Chesapeake Bay is disappearing under the sea, having lost two-thirds of its landmass since 1850. CNN recently aired a great piece about Tangier, in which the Mayor asks President Trump (who received 87% of the local vote) for “whatever you can do, we welcome any help you can give us.” The Washington Post reports that President Trump responded to the Mayor by telephone, and told him not to worry about sea level rise. Trump said “your island has been there for hundreds of years, and I believe your island will be there for hundreds more,” an example of ignorance posing as leadership that would be funny if it wasn’t so tragic. The Corps of Engineers has estimated Tangier will be underwater in a few decades, but that “a major storm event could cause abandonment much sooner.”

And more ignorance from the Trump administration is on display as Secretary of Energy Rick Perry stated on CNBC that carbon dioxide is not the primary driver for climate change. Perry said the changes are caused by “the ocean waters and this environment we live in.” The American Meteorological Society (AMS) responded immediately to say that Mr. Perry lacks a “fundamental understanding of the science” behind climate change, noting that his statement makes it “impossible to discuss potential policy changes in meaningful ways.” Perry was questioned more about his position by Sen. Al Franken (D-MN), calling himself a “skeptic” and saying “I don’t believe it” and “I don’t buy it,” but not providing an alternate testable hypothesis as a true skeptic would do, so I just call him a denier. AMS was more polite, noting in their letter that “skepticism that fails to account for evidence is no virtue.”


BAECCC Brief: June 9, 2017

I consider Jeff Goodell to be our finest science journalist writing about sea level rise, as evidenced by his articles on Miami and New York. He has a new article about the implications of recent science regarding ice sheet stability for the West Antarctic Ice Sheet and subsequent sea level rise. This mechanism underlies the H++ scenario contained in the recent Ocean Protection Council sea level rise report, which produces 10 feet of sea level rise by 2100. Climate Central reports on the detection of solitary waves moving through the Rink Glacier in Greenland in 2010 and 2012, which appear to be linked to extreme melting.

The Atlanta-Journal Constitution story on status of the expansion of the Vogtle Nuclear Power station in Georgia underscores the economic challenges facing the American nuclear power industry. The project is currently $3.6 billion over budget and almost four years behind the original schedule, under which the reactors were supposed to be finished by now. Westinghouse Electric, the company that designed the new reactors and eventually became the primary contractor on the project, has just filed for bankruptcy.

The Chronicle reports that Lake Tahoe is warming faster in the spring due to climate change, which is causing the lake to stratify sooner and this is reducing summer water clarity. An article in the Atlantic describes recent research documenting the migration of eastern trees over time. Most of the deciduous trees are following moisture and moving westward, while the evergreen trees are primarily moving northward.

An interesting article in Bloomberg explores the development of consensus in the history of science, and concludes scientific consensus is worth taking seriously because of how hard it is to get scientists to agree in the first place (Meanwhile, the New York Times documents how the Koch brothers and other conservative activists took the Republican party from their 2008 support for climate solutions to their current stance of denial). Bloomberg also reports on how local governments in coastal New Jersey are raising revenue selling bonds that receive AAA ratings, but the rating agencies are not considering if climate change could impact the jurisdiction’s capacity to repay the bonds in the future. Meanwhile, more than four years after Sandy, there is much resistance to a managed retreat scenario in coastal New Jersey. Many towns are building walls (with federal money) rather than buying out owners of the most vulnerable homes.

President Obama has a piece in the Guardian that discusses climate change and food production, with a focus on engaging young people to bring about change. The Guardian reports that Perth, Australia, is greatly expanding is groundwater recharge capacity, using treated wastewater to replenish aquifers in anticipation of a drying climate.

UC Irvine is holding a coastal resilience workshop on Wednesday, July 19th and Thursday, July 20th. A save-the-date notice is attached.

The New York Times reports on how Michael Bloomberg, ex-Mayor of New York City, is coordinating a group of cities, states, and corporations that will attempt to deliver the carbon emission reductions committed to by the United States despite the Trump administration’s withdrawal from the Paris Accord. Bloomberg Philanthropies has committed $14M to the United Nations Framework on Climate Change to cover the US contribution to the treaty organization should the US decline to provide its share of the organization’s operating expenses.

With regards to Paris, Alden Meyer, the Director of Strategy and Policy at the Union of Concerned Scientists, is the most knowledgeable person on international climate negotiations that I know. Alden has participated in this process for over twenty years, and I found his recent blog post on the topic most informative. A friend of mine has posted some of my personal thoughts on the matter, and it is my hope Trump’s decision will actually galvanize more activity from climate action supporters (for example, don’t miss this joint op-ed from the Mayors of Pittsburgh and Paris in response to Trump’s speech). Let’s remember what California’s legislative leaders said after Trump’s election, “California was not a part of this nation when its history began, but we are clearly now the keeper of its future.”


BAECCC Brief: May 26, 2017

For those who cannot make our April 20 meeting, a detailed written summary of the presentations has been posted on the website.

The New York Times reports on the Trump Administration’s delaying their decision on whether to leave the Paris Accord. Inside Climate News reports on the recent appeal court decision turning down the Chamber of Commerce claim that the California Cap & Trade Program (CTP) is a tax pursuant to Proposition 13. Dave Roberts at VOX reviews (very positively) the new proposal for CTP post 2020 that is being debated as SB 775.

Chris Mooney reviews recent projections for sea level rise, noting how there is a continued trend for projections to increase as scientists learn more about the potential behavior of the great ice sheets in Antarctica and Greenland. In a separate report, he describes recent work documenting accelerated growth of moss in Antarctica over the last several decades that scientists think is due to temperature increases from global warming. Inside Climate News reports on the early melt of ice in the Chukchi Sea, a clear indicator of the warming arctic, and its implications for the northwest Alaskan coast and its inhabitants.

The Los Angeles Times reports on a group of Republicans in the California Legislature that are seeking to engage with Democrats on California’s cap and trade program. Assembly Republican Leader Chad Mayes (R-Yucca Valley) notes that “What they’re doing back in Washington D.C., is not what we’re going to do be doing in California.” Inside Climate News reports on a recent paper by Ben Santer and colleagues that documents climate change is responsible for a portion of the 10-20% decline in western snowpack since 1980. The snowpack is projected to decline about 30% over the next 30 years, but it could be as much as 60%. Santer and colleagues also took the time to publish an analysis of tropospheric temperature data to document that Scott Pruitt’s testimony before the Senate about a “leveling off of warming” over the past two decades was incorrect.

The New York Times reports on the results of mesocosm experiments of the nearshore marine environment conducted at the University of Adelaide in Australia. Treatments included higher water temperatures and higher CO2 in the water. Researchers determined that higher CO2 stimulated algae growth and resulted in more food for fish, but when combined with higher temperatures this benefit disappeared. Reduced algal productivity, combined with higher predation pressure from fishes in higher temperature water, resulted in collapse of invertebrate populations.

I heard an address recently from the Deputy Mayor of Chicago, who explained that the City of Chicago has now reposted content deleted from the EPA’s website under this banner: “The City of Chicago wishes to acknowledge and attribute this information to the United States Environmental Protection Agency and other federal agencies for the decades of work that they have done to advance the fight against climate change. While this information may not be readily available on the agency’s webpage right now, here in Chicago we know climate change is real and we will continue to take action to fight it.” You can now go to their website to find the information, and read more in the Chicago Sun-Times.

Clive Hamilton reflects in the Guardian on the rejection of climate science and other signs of environmental damage as we begin the Anthropocene Epoch. Elizabeth Kolbert’s recent article in the New Yorker (Why Facts Don’t Change Our Minds) reviews cognitive science that explains the adaptive value of some habits of mind that seem mal-adaptive by causing us to reject information that is true (e.g., confirmation bias). These traits might have been quite valuable for promoting constructive social behavior when we were on the savannah, but they could limit our ability to apply reason to issues such as climate change or vaccination.

Finally, the New York Times reports on the international influence of California’s climate change policies, particularly since the presidential election. “As President Trump moves to reverse the Obama administration’s policies on climate change, California is emerging as the nation’s de facto negotiator with the world on the environment.”

So let’s keep at it!


BAECCC Brief: May 9, 2017

The Coastal Conservancy has produced a short summary of the impacts of President Trump’s budget proposals on the California Coast. Wired reviews a recent paper that concludes California’s quick return from drought was a 1/100 year event, and John King of the San Francisco Chronicle has a profile of the successful Napa River flood control project. Nexus Media reports on a recent study about how migration from coastal cities in the face of sea level rise/storm surges will impact inland cities that are migration destinations.

Meanwhile, Quartz notes that for a few hours on March 11 more than half the power needs of California came from solar power (in the SF Chronicle here). Bloomberg has a great article (The Cheap Energy Revolution is Here, and Coal Won’t Cut It) full of data demonstrating the enormous advances made in the last ten years by renewable power (and natural gas), and another article describing the remarkable drop in price of offshore wind as economies of scale are realized.

The Washington Post reports on the dropping morale at the Environmental Protection Agency, including a critical letter to new EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt written by a long-term staffer who just resigned. The National Center for Atmospheric Research reports on a new paper that projects increased frequency of extreme downpours, in some areas by 400%, by the end of the century. These projections, which also demonstrate increased intensity of events, were developed by running a model at a 4-km resolution in order to simulate individual storms, which took a year of supercomputing time.

Dana Nuticelli has a well-written piece in the Guardian that describes the need for the March on Science, including a link to an eloquent short film on the topic starring Neil deGrasse Tyson. University of Minnesota Physics Professor James Kakalios describes his reasons for marching in Salon, and notes that “The physics that makes TV remote controls possible does not magically stop functioning when applied to infrared-absorbing molecules in the atmosphere.” Quartz has a collection of signs from the March for Science.

In The Conversation Kevin Trenberth and Reno Knutti present why our understanding of physics has allowed the construction of climate models that can project future conditions. Environment News Service reports that EPA celebrated the People’s Climate March by removing decades worth of climate science from its website.

And in case you missed this installment from the Irony Department, the Kentucky Coal Museum in Benham, KY, has gone solar in order to save money on operating costs (a more detailed story here).


BAECCC Brief: April 24, 2017

The New York Times reviews a recent study about the impact of a 2°C rise in earth’s average temperature on the extent of permafrost. Using empirical methods, this study concludes that about 20% more permafrost than previously thought will melt in response to this temperature rise (keeping the rise to 1.5°C reduces melting by 30%).

The New York Times Magazine Climate Issue (April 23), which is worth reviewing in its entirety, has article that describes the impacts of climate change that are forcing human migration and engendering social unrest and conflict. Another article describes SCOPEX (Stratospheric Controlled Perturbation Experiment), an investigation underway at Harvard regarding the feasibility (including the ethical challenges) of geoengineering by release of particles to the atmosphere. And another reviews the history of mosquito borne illness in the US and the recent evidence that climate change will be exacerbating this phenomenon.

An article in Yale Environment 360 examines the growing conservative movement for climate action (the bi-partisan Climate Solutions Caucus is expanding). Axios reviews corporate positions on climate change, noting that the corporate sector is supporting the Paris agreement and distancing itself from the stance of the Trump administration. The Christian Science Monitor reports on the how conservative California farmers are thinking about water conservation and efficiency of use (just don’t talk about climate change).

Brad Plumer at VOX has an excellent discussion of why we need to be concerned about the Trump administration’s lack of action on climate change. While it’s true renewables are growing and states and local governments are taking action, we need the federal government to be planning for the deep decarbonization that is required to meet the 2°C goal. Should we seek decarbonization using 100% renewables (as suggested by Professor Mark Jacobson with The Solutions Project at Stanford), or also plan for using nuclear and fossil fuel with carbon capture and storage? Dave Roberts at VOX has an overview of this debate.

The budget proposed by President Trump would eliminate the National Estuary Program at US EPA, and almost completely eliminate the Chesapeake Bay Restoration Program (I expect we can count on drastic proposed reductions in federal funding directed toward San Francisco Bay). The New York Times has a short video describing the kinds of work in the Chesapeake that will be eliminated if this budget is adopted.

The talented communicators at the Years of Living Dangerously have produced a video to encourage you and your friends to participate in the People’s Climate March. Please take a look and distribute the link far and wide. Realclimate now has a page devoted to comparisons of model prediction with predicted temperature measurements.

The Ocean Protection Council and Ocean Science Trust released of a new report entitled Rising Seas in California: An Update on Sea-Level Rise Science. This report summarizes recent sea-level rise science, including recent scientific advances on the role of polar ice loss, and presents probabilistic projections for sea level rise in California. The Atlantic has an interesting article about the presence of surface water in Antarctica, and the growing understanding that there are active hydrologic networks that play a role in the resiliency of the ice sheets to warming temperatures.

The Mid-Peninsula Open Space District has an opening for a Climate Resiliency Fellow. Bay Nature is seeking an Executive Director.

If you count on the information contained in the BAECCC Brief, remember that I am just compiling the work of some of our country’s leading news publications. Please consider becoming a subscriber to the publications you find most valuable, as this will make sure they can continue to do their important work.


BAECCC Brief: April 10, 2017

The New York Times reports on recent research demonstrating a link between climate change and reduced winds over northern China, contributing to the severe air pollution in Chinese cities in the region. The Times also had a detailed article about the Chinese response to the Trump administration’s decision to reverse Obama’s climate change policies. The article notes that the United States’ abdication of leadership on this issue creates a global political opportunity for China. This is only enhanced by the lack of scientific and technical capabilities at the White House given that the Trump administration has ignored the Office of Science and Technology Policy.

Brad Plumer at VOX reviews what EPA Administrator Pruitt can do to slow down or reverse climate policy gains made during the Obama administration. Meanwhile, the American Meteorological Society and a group of distinguished climate scientists have forcefully rebuked Mr. Pruitt’s unsupported (and unsupportable) claim that carbon dioxide does not exert a controlling influence on climate. John Abraham in the Guardian describes the important 19th Century science that Pruitt ignores (demonstrating why he is a denier rather than a skeptic).

In the Guardian Victoria Hermann (the Managing Director The Arctic Institute and a Gates Scholar at Cambridge University) writes about seeing data on the arctic, painstakingly gathered over decades by her and her colleagues, disappearing from US Government websites. She notes that this represents “an effort by the Trump administration to deliberately undermine our ability to make good policy decisions by limiting access to scientific evidence.”

Do you worry that nature seems “out of whack?” You may have phenology anxiety. High Country News reports about experiments investigating the response of desert soil bio-crusts to climate change. Chris Mooney reports in the Washington Post on the latest research paper investigating how rising arctic temperatures could alter the jet stream and contribute to more extreme weather events.

Dr. David Gorsky has penned very detailed blog post about renewed calls for use of DDT to combat zika virus, why this is likely an ineffective strategy, and how these calls are linked to a long-term, inaccurate political narrative regarding Rachel Carson and environmentalists who “care more about birds than people.” It is fascinating to see the clear links between this narrative and the current denial of climate science.

Professor Jane Lubchenco of Oregon State, the previous Administrator of NOAA and Special Envoy for Oceans of the US State Department, has written an article about environmental science in a “post truth” world. The Times Picayune reports about the Governor of Louisiana’s $50 billion, 50-year master plan for coastal resilience, which contains a variety of approaches including marsh creation, sediment diversion, and levee construction.

Michael Bloomberg argues in the New York Times that the US will meet its commitments under the Paris climate agreement, despite the Trump administration’s anti-science efforts, due to actions by states, businesses, and consumers. Brad Plumer at VOX reviews the documented slow-down in global CO2 emissions, and an article in the New Yorker asks When is it time to retreat from climate change?


BAECCC Brief: March 24, 2017

The Trump Administration draft budget eliminates funding for cleaning up estuaries, including the major effort ($73M) to reduce nutrient input to Chesapeake Bay (Washington Post editorial here) and the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative (a change Republican Governor Scott Walker of Wisconsin has pledged to fight). I am quite confident the smaller San Francisco Bay Water Quality Improvement Fund is slated to be eliminated as well (related SF Chronicle op-ed by David Lewis here).

The Guardian has a story about the ecological changes unfolding in the arctic triggered by the loss of sea ice and warming temperatures. Also in the Guardian is an article comparing sea level rise problems and planning in Atlantic City and Miami Beach (this article is accompanied by an excellent 7 minute video). Meanwhile, the arctic just passed through the peak of annual sea ice extent, and there was less than any other year during the satellite record.

The New York Times reports that huge sections of the Great Barrier Reef, stretching across hundreds of miles of its most pristine northern sector, were recently found to be dead, killed last year by overheated seawater that has been attributed to climate change. For a second year in a row a mass bleaching is underway, something unheard of in the past, accelerating reef damage beyond what coral scientists had predicted. The “Great Barrier Reef is Dying” is a narrative that is appearing in editorials (such as here in the Washington Post).

The New York Times reports on the devastation to ranchers from the wildfires that burned in Kansas, Oklahoma, and Texas. These were the largest fires in the history of the state of Kansas. The Atlantic reports on the likely coming fight between California and the EPA regarding the waiver granted to California pursuant to the Clean Air Act to set tailpipe emissions for automobiles.

The Conversation has an excellent article about the how and why of the social cost of carbon (SCC), written by Joseph Aldy of Harvard University, who was a member of the working group that developed the first government-wide estimate of the SCC for the Obama administration. An op-ed in the New York Times presents the idea that the carbon emissions must drop in half each decade starting in 2020 to meet the 2°C target, a simple framing of a very challenging proposition.

The Emmy-winning first season of TV series the Years of Living Dangerously is now available for free on youtube. National Geographic will be re-airing all of Season Two as a block on Earth Day (April 22nd), so if you didn’t catch the second season the first time around, here’s your chance to watch. In addition, the DVD release of Season Two will occur on April 18th (DVDs of Season Two are already available for pre-order on Amazon).

Bloomberg Businessweek reviews a new novel Kim Stanley Robinson has just released a new novel, New York 2140, that is set in New York City with 50 feet of sea level rise.

UC Irvine is hosting a workshop on Coastal Resilience in California on July 20th. The Save-the-Date notice is attached. The New York Times has an interesting piece (The Seasons Aren’t What They Used to Be) that ponders the meaning of Spring as climate change impacts phenology.

The Conversation has an article entitled Should Scientists Engage in Activism? This is an important issue for all scientists, and those who support the use of scientific evidence as a foundation of public decision-making, to consider as the March for Science approaches. The article has many links to articles offering different perspectives, including the story of the scientists at Virginia Tech who uncovered the drinking water crisis in Flint, MI.

Finally, most of us are likely aware that EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt has stated publicly that carbon dioxide does not exert a controlling impact on the earth’s climate, discarding a century of scientific evidence (and changing his tune from his confirmation hearing). Of course, he offers no explanation for what is causing the observed rise in temperatures, nor does he explain how carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases are not causing the temperature rise we are observing. Many refutations have been published (here in Forbes, for example). Dave Roberts at VOX notes that more important than Pruitt’s denial of the role of CO2 is the institutional rejection by the Republican party of science as a way of knowing truth. Pruitt and other conservative Republicans are rejecting the authority the scientific enterprise has earned based upon the application of the knowledge it has created over the last three centuries, and this can have profound impacts on our society. As Thomas Jefferson said, “Freedom (is) the first-born daughter of science.”

So…everybody out of their chairs! Nobody is allowed to sit this one out.


BAECCC Brief: March 7, 2017

The San Jose Mercury reports on recent flooding of transportation infrastructure, projections for flooding in the future, and planning underway to make this infrastructure more resilient to sea level rise. The Almanac has an article about the planning work underway by the San Francisquito Joint Powers Authority as part of the SAFER Bay project

Fusion reports on the case of Ken Ward, who was arrested and tried for trespassing onto Kinder Morgan property and closing the valve on an oil pipeline. Ward argues that when individuals put their freedom and safety at risk for a cause it makes others think much harder about the issue that reports and articles. His first trial resulted in a hung jury, and he is now facing new charges.

Dave Roberts at Vox notes that the bi-partisan support for renewable power coming from the National Governor’s Association could lead to changing positions about climate change as people and states begin to identify with climate solutions for purely economic reasons. Bloomberg reports on how grid-scale battery storage is growing as large lenders become more comfortable with the technology, the stability of manufacturers, and the growing market demand.

There is a lot of current news about the arctic climate. InsideClimate News reports on the robust predictions of NASA scientist Clare Parkinson, the first researcher to project the impact of a doubling of atmospheric carbon dioxide on the arctic ice cap. She and her colleagues predicted in 1979 that such a rise in carbon dioxide concentrations would leave the arctic ice free in the middle of the 21st Century. Given the fact that January 2017 had the lowest ice cover for any January on record, Parkinson’s predictions appear to be holding up. The New York Times reports on the altered timing of the emergence of arctic plants in Greenland. One sedge species is initiating spring bloom 26 days earlier than a decade ago. The change corresponds to nearly an entire growing season, and breaks the record for the greatest shift in spring-bloom timing that the scientists have observed in the Arctic. InsideClimate News also reports on recent research documenting melting and slumping of permafrost soils in large areas of northern Canada and other arctic regions. The Washington Post reports on expanding acidification of the Arctic Ocean, including discussion of a variety of oceanographic processes that may be enhancing this impact of carbon dioxide. reports on a recent paper (abstract only) in Water Resources Research about the future of the Colorado River this century. The paper notes that measured declines in flow cannot be attributed solely to reduced precipitation, suggesting that the drying of the watershed is playing a role and this will grow as temperatures climb this century.

An article in Salon (Lawn and Disorder) reviews the cumulative environmental impacts of American’s infatuation with lawns, and Climate Central has an article about a California farmer capturing stormwater flows to recharge a groundwater aquifer. Think Progress reports on the remarkable sales of electric vehicles in Norway, where the transportation minister says it is “realistic” that sales of new fuel-burning cars could end by 2025. Reuters reports on the deployment of renewable energy by the military, and the continued commitment of the Department of Defense to this practice under President Trump.

Mother Jones has published a wonderful essay from an anonymous EPA employee about why this person (and others at EPA) remain committed to their agency’s public health mission, and former EPA Administrator William Ruckelshaus describes why the chemical industry wanted him to rebuild a strong EPA in 1983 after the agency was damaged during the first two years of the Regan presidency. Meanwhile, the Washington Post notes that President Trump has yet to nominate someone to lead the Council on Environmental Quality, but his administration is forcing CEQ to move after decades in the same location. The San Francisco Chronicle reports on the potential impact of EPA budget cuts on wetlands restoration in San Francisco Bay. The Washington Post reports on initial actions by the Trump administration with regards to NOAA’s budget, which include elimination of the Sea Grant program, and major cuts to satellite data management and “coastal resilience” efforts.


BAECCC Brief: February 22, 2017

The San Francisco Chronicle reports that the Bay Area Resilient by Design Challenge will be moving ahead due to a grant from The Rockefeller Foundation of New York. Congratulations to all of our Bay Area colleagues who worked hard to make this idea a reality.

Climate Central reports January temperatures in the arctic were 35°F above normal, with sea ice at all-time lows for this time of year, and temperatures reaching the melting point of ice at the North Pole in December. As of February 10th the arctic was experiencing its third “heat wave” of the winter, as opposed to a previous frequency of once or twice per decade. Climate Central reports on a major calving event has been documented on the Pine Island Glacier (great slider in this article showing before and after photos), while a “watch” is in effect for a major calving event on the Larsen C ice shelf.

The Washington Post reports on a new study that synthesized vast amounts of data to detect a decline in the oxygen content of the ocean. This long-predicted change was attributed to warmer ocean temperatures (15 percent of the total oxygen loss) and other factors, such as enhanced thermal stratification that suppresses vertical mixing. The New York Times reports on the decline of seagrasses worldwide, the ecosystem services they provide, and recent research that suggest sea grass beds provide a valuable service by removing toxins that impact humans and coral reefs.

Nexus media has a portion of an interview with Professor Lynn Ingram of UC Berkeley regarding the history of catastrophic floods in California. A 2013 piece in Scientific American by Ingram (California megaflood: lessons from a forgotten catastrophe) is worth the read, as is the article (behind a paywall) co-authored with Michael Dettinger (Megastorms Could Drown Massive Portions of California).

Noah Diffenbaugh of Stanford has an op-ed in the New York Times that notes the issues facing Oroville Dam are partially a function of California’s changing climate, and he argues for a set of “climate-smart” water policies to make California more resilient to its new climate. The Times also has an excellent article reviewing the implications of climate change on dam maintenance in California. On the California Water Blog Megan Nguyen reviews the structure and function the Yolo Bypass, which is in full operation at present.

Wendy Palen of Simon Fraser University has an interesting op-ed in the New York Times about how scientists can respond to the anti-science/truth/reality attitude of the Trump administration, based upon her experience with the Harper administration in Canada. How scientists, and the broader fact-based community, respond to these developments has been a subject of discussions among my colleagues (and I'm sure yours as well). We will all need to be ready to act as we are comfortable; Yes Magazine is encouraging scientists to speak out, and the public to support them. John Oliver has taken an interesting (and amusing) action, while the Atlantic reports the views of scientists who support President Trump.

Wired has an article that discusses sea level rise planning in California, including the new scientific panel convened by Governor Brown to review recent literature to determine if sea level rise projections for California need to be changed. Scientific American summarizes a forum at the Woods Institute on adaptation to climate change that included discussion of managed retreat. Patrick Barnard of USGS and colleagues have published an analysis of coastal erosion in response to the strong El Niño in 2015-16, noting that shorelines in many areas retreated beyond previously measured landward extremes, particularly along the California coast (summarized here in the Christian Science Monitor).

An op-ed in Glamour (the first citation for this magazine in the BAECCC Brief!) by model (and Oklahoma native) Amber Valletta makes the case for why Scott Pruitt should not be appointed to lead the EPA. The New York Times reports on the remarkable open opposition of EPA employees to the Pruitt nomination. Despite these efforts, Pruitt’s nomination was approved by the US Senate.


BAECCC Brief: February 9, 2017

InsideClimate News posts about a new study in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (here) that suggests a strong relationship between outbreaks of Pseudo-nitzschia (producer of damoic acid) and ocean temperature going back to 1991. The Washington Post has an article reviewing the impact of sea level rise in the Bay Area, focusing on Highway 37 and the airports.

The New York Times has an excellent review of the use of batteries for energy storage on the grid, including the latest on developments in southern California that will be leading the nation in testing this technology. Jay Lund reviews the status of California’s drought and recovery, and the value of different drought indicators, at the California Water Blog.

The Washington Post reports on the growing unease in the scientific community that the Trump administration is not interested in scientific facts as part of policy development. A Scientists’ March on Washington is now it the planning stages. Nature Magazine describes four ways Trump can unravel Obama’s legacy on science, and the Atlantic has a profile of 500 Women Scientists, a group that has sprung up to protest against the Trump administration. Chris Mooney of the Post notes that scientists appear much more prepared to counter the manipulation of scientific evidence by the administration than during the Bush years.

The National Park Service (NPS) will not be silenced! After the main Twitter account for the Service has stopped posting after being criticized by President Trump for re-tweeting photos comparing his inaugural crowd to that of President Obama’s in 2009, Scientific American reports that Badlands National Park started tweeting out climate facts like the concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere (leading many to suggest Badlands NPS is Badass). These were deleted later the same day, but then anonymous NPS employees created the AltUSNatlParkService twitter account and announced “Mr. Trump, you may have taken us down officially. But with scientific evidence and the Internet our message will get out.” Salon reports about this action spreading to other national parks, including the Golden Gate NPS twitter account. Park Rangers to the Rescue, writes Tim Egan in the New York Times.

The New York Times reviews at how Scott Pruitt might approach reducing EPA’s workforce and scope (“using a scapel not a meat cleaver”). Climate Central reports on the possible closing of the Navajo Generating Station in Arizona, the largest coal-fired plant in the west, and about other coal plants closing due to the combination of plentiful natural gas and the cost of modern emissions controls.

The lies being told by President Trump are a serious attack on science and democracy, and will undermine the effectiveness of BAECCC and other science-based organizations in the public sphere. This article in the Guardian from Lawrence Douglas at Amherst College (my alma mater!), which points out that Trump lies are directed not to his opponents but his supporters, really hits the nail on the head. The Guardian describes the latest “fake news” about climate science regards NOAA’s ongoing effort to eliminate bias from their global temperature data set. RealClimate has a great post about how climate scientists have a lot to teach others about dealing with fake news.

And with sadness I note the passing of Art Rosenfeld, one of California’s great scientists and a global leader in the field of energy efficiency.


BAECCC Brief: January 24, 2017

The New York Times reports on a massive increase in the death of moose in the northeast due to the impact of ticks. The insects, much more prevalent due to warm winters, have been identified as the cause of death for about 70% of moose calves based on tagging studies in certain regions. Scientists also note that the problem is enhanced by a rise in the abundance of moose, which provides more hosts for the growing tick population.

The Washington Post summarizes a new study suggesting that in existing climate models the Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation (AMOC; also know colloquially as the “ocean conveyor belt”) is represented to be less sensitive to climate change than it actually might be. This bias, also discussed at Real Climate here, suggests a tipping point at which this current slows or stops is closer than we might have thought. The new study applies a correction for freshwater fluxes into the Atlantic Ocean to better represent actual salt concentrations, and then investigates ocean circulation with a doubling of CO2 in the atmosphere. While the circulation is relatively stable in the uncorrected model, only declining by about 20% in response to a CO2 doubling, in the corrected model the AMOC breaks down completely in the centuries following a CO2 doubling.

The policy forum in Science Magazine (January 9, 2017), entitled The Irreversible Momentum of Clean Energy, was authored by President Obama (editorial comment: Is this cool or what? Have fun by selecting the “+” icon to display “author affiliation”; and read here about his other recent publications in academic journals). Dave Roberts at Vox takes issue with Mr. Obama’s use of “irreversible,” noting that the new administration can take many steps to halt a transformation in the energy sector that is only just getting underway. Senator Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) has a great op-ed explaining the political power of the fossil fuel industry in Congress. (“Talking to my Senate Republican colleagues about climate change is like talking to prisoners about escaping. The conversations are often private, even furtive.”)

Scientific American has an interview with Friederike Otto, deputy director of the Environmental Change Institute at the University of Oxford, regarding attribution science; how we can test the role of climate change in extreme events. In the context of the major storm events in January, Salon has an excellent article that reviews recent developments regarding understanding atmospheric rivers now and in the future as climate changes. An excellent op-ed by Michael Greenstone and Cass Sunstein in the New York Times reviews the rationale and legal precedents for a social cost on carbon, an essential component of federal rule-making for climate policy.

The Washington Post reports on a new study (in Nature here )that revealed a massive peat-filled wetland in Africa’s central Congo Basin. The area is now believed to be the largest peatland system in the global tropics, estimated at 145,500 square kilometers (56,000 square miles). In Kenya, Reuters reports that a commercial farm has become Africa's first electricity producer powered by biogas to sell surplus electricity to the national grid, cutting the carbon emissions associated with oil-powered generation. The Gorge Farm Energy Park in Naivasha can produce two megawatts of biogas power, which is being sold a 10¢/kwh in comparison to 38¢/kwh for diesel-generated power. The Guardian reports that Dutch trains are now powered 100% by wind energy.

Jeff Goodell has an interesting interview in Rolling Stone with James Hansen (Will we Miss Our Last Chance to Survive Climate Change?). Dave Roberts at Vox reviews the latest “upgrade” to the “burning embers” graphic used by the IPCC to describe various risks from climate change. And oceanographers have named an oceanographic sampling station off the coast of the Antarctic peninsula Station Obama.

If you have friends or colleagues who would like to see the BAECCC Brief, please don’t hesitate to forward it along and let them know they can join the BAECCC list serve if they want!


BAECCC Brief: January 11, 2017

The Las Vegas Review-Journal reports that, with the Boulder 1 solar array having come on-line, the City of Las Vegas is now drawing 100% of its power from renewable sources. The City has reduced its energy consumption by 30% since 2008. Last summer 50% of the United Kingdom’s electricity came from low-carbon sources (including wood burning and nuclear power), according to the Guardian.

An article in the New York Times describes the challenges of managing fisheries along the Atlantic coast as fish populations move in response to changing ocean temperatures. Also in the Times, an in-depth look at how Jackson Family Wines (makers of Kendall-Jackson chardonnay and many other well-known northern California brands) is tackling the impacts of climate change as part of their sustainability program.

The Washington post reports on the findings of the Global Carbon Project, as reported in Earth Systems Science Data, that projected emissions for 2016 are similar to those for the last two years. This suggests that economic growth is being decoupled from carbon emissions, and that (for the moment) global carbon emissions growth has been slowed significantly. The Post also has a detailed review of the epidemic of forest pests that are at work in North America. According to an analysis in Ecological Applications, 63 percent of US forest is at risk through 2027, with a projected cost of several billion dollars annually in dead tree removal, declining property values, and timber industry losses.

I found this interview with outgoing FEMA Director Craig Fugate quite interesting. He points to the incentives within the FEMA system that force continued risk taking by the taxpayers, and how some of the basic procedures used in private insurance to encourage less risk-taking by insureds are absent in the federal system.

The British Met Office has projected that 2017 will be slightly cooler than 2016 due to the ending of El Niño. So, remember this article when all the talk of the end of global warming starts up again next year. Meanwhile, a huge crack in the Larsen C ice shelf on the Antarctic Peninsula continues to expand; experts are watching for a major calving event this winter.

Dr. Benjamin Santer of Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory has penned an eloquent op-ed for CNBC that is a letter to the President-elect about the need for him to understand and act on the conclusions of climate science he wants America to be “great.” Dr. Astrid Caldas of the Union of Concerned Scientists has a blog post that captures the issues discussed and general tenor at the American Geophysical Union meeting last month for those who could not attend.

A side note: While there has been much focus recently on the appointment of climate change deniers by President-elect Trump, and the threat this poses to our ability to reduce the impacts of climate change on future generations, we should all recognize that other critical threats also demand our efforts if we are to ensure public safety. One is the likely unwillingness of a Pruitt-led EPA to enforce existing health-based air quality regulations (as discussed here by Andy Rosenberg). For another, I encourage all to take a few minutes to read Eric Schlosser’s World War Three By Mistake in the New Yorker. The threat of accidental launch of missiles, or purposeful launch due to mistaken warnings, is an existential threat that receives little attention but is being recklessly enhanced by Trump and Vladimir Putin. Both of these men have recently made public statements about enhancing their respective country’s nuclear capabilities, an action that brings us closer to a war with no victors, particularly given the insistence of keeping our weapons on hair-trigger alert in this new age of cyber attacks. Schlosser quotes General George Lee Butler, previous head of US Strategic Command: “We escaped the Cold War without a nuclear holocaust by some combination of skill, luck, and divine intervention, and I suspect the latter in greatest proportion.”


BAECCC Brief: December 29, 2016

Bloomberg Technology reports on the falling costs of solar in emerging markets. It has now reached parity with wind power, and a recent solar power deal in Chile came in at $29.10/MWh, roughly have the price of competing coal power (it should be noted that in at least some of these low-cost solar bids governments are providing leases of public land at very low prices).

At the American Geophysical Union meeting in San Francisco scientists took to the streets (video here). Governor Brown also spoke at AGU, and he was really fired up. He received a standing ovation from the scientists in the audience when he walked on stage, and he gave a feisty speech supporting climate science in particular and science in general as a way of knowing truth (Sacramento Bee article here, video here). I recommend this for chasing away the Trump blues.

In The Nation Mark Hertsgaard reviews Obama’s climate legacy and how to move it forward under a Trump administration. On Salon Paul Edwards ponders the implications of Trump’s request for the names of individual scientists at the Department of Energy who have been engaged in climate science (including those representing the US at the Conference of Parties for the UNFCCC treaty to which the US is a signatory).

Michael Klare considers the implications of what would happen if Trump’s vision of expanded use of fossil fuels in the future actually came to pass. In addition to damaging (and likely irreversible) climate impacts, Trump’s plan to return to belching smokestacks as a sign of progress would actually bankrupt many fossil fuel companies due to downward pressure on fuel prices.

Scientific American interviews Obama’s Science Advisor John Holdren, who has served in this position longer than any other American. Holdren founded the Energy and Resources Group at UC Berkeley in 1973. Climate Central reviews the ten biggest climate change stories of the year.

A recent editorial in the New York Times concludes that “State governments will serve as an important bulwark against any attempt by President-elect Donald Trump to roll back the progress the United States has made in addressing climate change.” There is no doubt in my mind that California (and by extension, all of us in the BAECCC community) have an important role to play in making this happen (and the Times subsequently reports on California’s leadership on climate action and the willingness of our political leaders to challenge the Trump administration).

Happy New Year to everybody!


BAECCC Brief: December 14, 2016

The New York Times reports on the largest coral die-off on record for the Great Barrier Reef. The die-off hit the northern part of the reef the hardest, the region that sees less anthropogenic impacts in general. The southern part of the reef was spared due to lower water temperatures caused by the remnants of cyclone Winston. A die-off of Yellow Cedar is being documented throughout the coastal northwest and into Alaska, with mortality exceeding 70 percent in many areas according to an article on that summarizes recent research. Researchers link the decline to reduced snow cover, which exposes the shallow root system of the cedars to colder temperatures.

Ecosystem Marketplace reports on the signing by Governor Jerry Brown of AB 2480, which declares that “source watersheds are recognized and defined as integral components of California’s water infrastructure.” This now makes it possible to apply billions of dollars in infrastructure finance towards the restoration of forests and the maintenance of meadows, streams and rivers (although there are many details to be worked out).

Hakai magazine reports on research that concludes coastal wetlands prevented up to $625 million in additional property damages during Hurricane Sandy. The modeling study, conducted by a team from UC Santa Cruz, The Nature Conservancy, and others, found that census tracts in the storm region experienced an average of 10% reduction in property losses, with some areas as high as 30%. The Ventura County Star reports on a partnership between The Nature Conservancy and the Navy to prepare Naval Base Ventura for rising sea levels.

The Washington Post reports on a new study published in Nature that provides empirical support for the hypothesis that warming soils will release carbon (as methane or carbon dioxide), creating a positive feedback loop that will drive global warming independent of human emissions. The authors compiled the results of 49 studies of emissions from research plots around the world. While in some areas carbon actually accumulated in the soil over time, overall carbon was released to the atmosphere with these losses generally tracking the degree of warming a region had seen. Extrapolating to 2050 the authors project 200 gigatons of carbon dioxide will be released, despite the fact that the study only examined the top 10 cm of soil.

SPUR has published the Mission Creek Sea Level Rise Adaptation Study, which examines different design concepts for “holding the line” to protect one of the lowest lying areas of San Francisco. Concepts examined include raising seawalls, filling and creating tidal basins through an outboard levee and building a tidal gate that could be closed during extreme high tides. Among the principles guiding the study was that "Nothing is off the table – despite concepts that may seem radical, difficult to implement, or hard to permit."

According to the Guardian a new movie called The Humanity Bureau will begin shooting next month in British Columbia. Starring Nicholas Cage, the story takes place in 2030, when much of the American midwest has been rendered uninhabitable due to climate change. And unfortunately, this is not a movie: Donald Trump’s pick to be head of the US EPA is the Attorney General of Oklahoma, Scott Pruitt, a climate-change denier and well established promoter of the interests of fossil fuel companies.

Lest I leave you on that sad note right before the holidays, Vanity Fair has an interesting article about the political and economic factors that will constrain the Trump administration’s ability to damage progress on decarbonization and other environmental issues. And in the New York Times William Buzbee of Georgetown Law School argues that “Collectively, law, reality and regulatory choices by states would create a bulwark against abrupt changes by Mr. Pruitt and the president.”


BAECCC Brief: November 28, 2016

RealClimate has an article that provides an excellent technical summary for why the sun is not causing the global warming we are observing today.

The New York Times has a detailed report from South Florida about the growing challenge of living with high tides, and another about the impact of sea level rise on the real estate and mortgage markets. Motherboard reports that Vancouver, Canada, has issued a Coastal Flood Risk Assessment that includes discussion of retreat as an option for adapting to sea level rise. Bloomberg View reports on how intense storms and sea level rise are already forcing Americans to relocate, particularly those in public housing. The article discusses the concept of “climate gentrification,” and notes that HUD has "neither a plan for safeguarding the country's stock of public housing from [climate change], nor the funding to carry out such a plan. It has yet to even compile a list of which properties are at risk."

The National Estuarine Research Reserve Association has published a paper (summary here, manuscript here) looking at the resilience of coastal marshes in the US to sea level rise. Looking at 16 marshes in 13 coastal states, the paper concludes that marshes along the Pacific Coast appear more likely to survive than those along the Atlantic. The authors look at five factors (marsh elevation, change in elevation, sediment supply, tidal range, and rate of sea level rise) to provide guidance to managers interested in the future resilience of their marshes.

Brad Plumer and David Roberts review the possible environmental policy actions that can be taken by the Republicans now that they are in power (warning: it is not pretty).

Dan Rather has published an article in Scientific American about the importance of science to American democracy and to the health of the planet. He argues that the media must do much more reporting on science and its value to the country and the world. In case this isn’t already obvious, the Guardian reports that Donald Trump’s staffer overseeing transition issues for NASA has criticized the agency’s earth science mission (work on clouds, climate, ice, and temperature that he wants to eliminate) as “politically-correct environmental monitoring."

The California Water Blog has a post by Brett Milligan of UC Davis regarding restoration of landscapes in the Delta. He summarizes results of research to support an ecosystem reconciliation approach, which seeks synergies between ecosystem needs and the desires of humans. He argues that reconciling human uses with restoration objectives requires a broader view of stewardship, and provides an opportunity to address multiple issues of concern.

The San Francisco Bay Joint Venture has produced a one-minute video that is part of an ongoing effort to educate our region about the benefits of wetlands and wetland restoration. The San Francisco Chronicle has published the fourth part of John King’s excellent series of articles about sea level rise (called Rising Reality).


BAECCC Brief: November 16, 2016

Carbon Brief reports on research regarding the relationship between projected changes in tropical cyclone tracks and sediment loads to the Mekong delta, where 20 million people live. Flooding from tropical cyclones contribute an important fraction of the sediment delivered to the delta, but this is projected to decline.

The San Antonio Express News did not endorse local Congressman Lamar Smith, citing Smith's “…abuse of his position as chairman of the House Science, Space and Technology Committee.”  The paper said Smith is using "bullying tactics" against state Attorneys General and non-profits investigating if ExxonMobil has committed fraud by misleading investors with regard to the impact of the use of their products on the atmosphere and climate.

Elizabeth Kolbert has published a lengthy article in the New Yorker called Greenland is Melting. She notes a wide array of feedback loops, some physical and some social, are already underway as the melting of the great ice sheet accelerates. Climate Central reports on a massive ice avalanche in Tibet. Brenda Ekwurzel of the Union of Concerned Scientists has a blog post summarizing a recent paper providing evidence of submarine melting of glaciers in Amundsen Sea, supporting the hypothesis that the destabilization of the West Antarctic Ice Sheet has begun.

The Conversation reports on how global warming is contributing to the deoxygenation of the world’s oceans, adding to the stress caused by runoff of wastewater and fertilizer. The mechanism for this includes both less oxygen being contained in warmer water, and enhanced stratification that leads to less mixing.

The San Francisco Estuary Institute has recently activated an on-line interactive map where users can view and download watershed sediment supply and dredged sediment volumes for 33 major flood control channels around the Bay. This is a product of the Flood Control 2.0 project.

An article in Nexus Media examines how tree planting can be used to help cool urban areas (using Cleveland as an example). The analysis also demonstrates how such a program can be implemented to produce outcomes that address concerns of economic and environmental justice by considering these goals in program design. The Guardian has an article about the growing movement for the design and construction of floating homes. reports on the recent king tides in Boston, and the Washington Post reports on a project in Hampton Roads, VA, to pump treated wastewater into aquifers to slow land subsidence in this community that is one of the most vulnerable in the nation to sea level rise. The Nation reports on the work of researchers investigating retreat from the shoreline, focusing on two communities impacted by Hurricane Sandy. Inside Climate News has a great article about the rebuilding of Toms River, New Jersey, after Hurricane Sandy. Toms River has a long history of major flood insurance claims. Despite the fact that all projections of sea level rise suggest more flooding in the future, what has emerged in Toms River is "a mentality of fortification, not retreat." FEMA is not allowed to use sea level rise projections to draw flood maps, compounding the problem (It should be noted that here in the Bay Area FEMA has prepared “non-regulatory mapping products” that project inundation due to sea level rise and these have been valuable in discussions of shoreline resilience to sea level rise.)

Salon has gathered the thoughts of several climate experts (including our own Laura Tam at SPUR) regarding the election of Donald Trump. Nature News has also gathered reactions of scientists. There is no doubt that this election result will be a political blow to our efforts to take action to mitigate the impacts of climate change at the national level. However, at the local and state level we have a tremendous amount of momentum and I plan to redouble my efforts for action. I hope you will, too.


BAECCC Brief: October 25, 2016

The second season of the Years of Living Dangerously will premiere on the National Geographic Cable Channel on October 30th (8 PM). For those who are unfamiliar with this series, it is being produced by famed Hollywood producer/director David Cameron, in association with David Gelber and Joel Bach, two highly acclaimed producers who left 60 Minutes after 25 years to focus on climate change (disclaimer: I am an advisor to the show). The first season of the show, which features celebrities as reporters investigating climate change, appeared on Showtime and won an Emmy. The second season will start with David Letterman visiting India and Cecily Strong investigating the fight against solar power by utilities (with a special edition of USA Today). After the October 30th premiere the second season will air Wednesdays at 10 PM from November 2 through December 14. Other celebrity reporters involved include Jack Black, Ian Somerhalder, Don Cheadle, Thomas Friedman, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Gisele Bündchen, Joshua Jackson, Aasif Mandvi, Nikki Reed, Ty Burrell, Bradley Whitford, Sigourney Weaver, and America Ferrera.

In addition, Leonardo di Caprio’s new climate change movie Before the Flood will soon be released (it also will be on National Geographic Television on October 30th). Salon has in interesting interview with the movie’s director Fisher Stevens.

Science Daily reports that this year the Wildlife Conservation Society documented the successful fledging of Caspian terns at the Cape Kursenstern National Monument in Alaska, 1,000 miles farther north than previously recorded. The Sacramento Bee describes a trip in Yosemite to the dying Lyell Glacier.

The New York Times has a profile of Dr. Katharine Hayhoe of Texas Tech, who has become one of the most influential voices on climate change in the nation. Also in the Times is an op-ed from a geology professor about the non-sustainable and expensive approach of constantly rebuilding beaches on the Atlantic coast when they are eroded (as recently occurred due to Hurricane Matthew). And the Christian Science Monitor has an interesting article regarding attitudes about climate change in Colorado. 

The San Francisco Estuary Partnership (SFEP) just released The Comprehensive Conservation and Management Plan for the San Francisco Estuary (Estuary Blueprint). The Blueprint remains true to the intent of the original 1993 CCMP while building on the accumulated scientific knowledge and development of many other key plans and strategies over the past 20+ years.

A recent paper in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (summarized here at and in the New York Times here) concludes human-induced climate change has doubled the area affected by forest fires in the U.S. West over the last 30 years. Key to this conclusion is that 55 percent of the increase in fuel aridity expected to lead to fires could be attributed to human-influenced climate change. The work also does not account for some factors that could be offshoots of climate warming, and thus they may be understating the effect. These include millions of trees killed in recent years by beetles that prefer warmer weather, and declines in spring soil moisture brought on by earlier snowmelt.

Dana Nuccitelli has an nice piece in the Guardian debunking some key current arguments of climate change denialists. And here’s a report from (cited on the New York Times' Dot Earth blogs) on a small article in an obscure New Zealand newspaper about the impact of coal burning on the earth’s climate. The date of the article is August 14, 1912.


BAECCC Brief: October 10, 2016

It is widely known that sea level in the eastern Pacific has been been rising very slowly over the last decade, especially compared to the global average. This has been attributed to wind fields associated with the warm phase of the Pacific Decadal Oscillation. A recent paper (behind paywall) in the Journal of Geophysical Research (summarized here) now suggests that the PDO began oscillation into a cold phase starting in 2011, and that sea level in the western Pacific is rising as a result. Rates of rise of around 1 cm/yr could increase by 5-10 mm/yr in the coming decade, which will have important implications for the Bay Area. (h/t Roger Levanthal)

On September 20, 375 members of the National Academy of Sciences, including 30 Nobel laureates, published an open letter to draw attention to the serious risks of climate change. It includes a specific challenge to the position on the issue of climate action (and adherence to the Paris Accord) taken by “the Republican nominee for President.” Two signatories, Ben Santer and Kerry Emanuel, have penned an op-ed explaining the letter in the Washington Post.

A recent analysis in Nature Climate Change (summarized here) has projected where climate change will most likely drive novel species assemblages. The Washington Post reports on a new study in Science that estimates carbon sequestration rates by soil maybe only half of the rates normally incorporated in carbon models. The new study uses radio-carbon dating to estimate the age of soil carbon, which turns out to be significantly older than the age predicted by modeling studies. So although the soil will still take up carbon, the rate may be much slower, which implies the soil will not remove as much carbon from the atmosphere over the next 100 years as has been previously assumed.

The Washington Post reports on a recent paper in Nature Communications that suggests that the eastern Antarctic Ice Sheet might be less stable than previously believed. The paper developed a novel explanation for the well established observation of fossilized diatoms a mile up in the mountains of the Antarctic. This explanation ties together much existing information, but it relies on concept that ice retreat during the Pliocene in eastern Antarctica was much more significant than previously supposed. The Post also reports on a recent paper that clarifies the importance of methane emissions from water reservoirs as part of the global greenhouse gas budget.

BAECCC (in conjunction with the Climate Readiness Institute at UC Berkeley) convened a workshop entitled Responding to Sea Level Rise in the South Bay: Local and Regional Implications of Alternative Future Shoreline Configurations. The workshop explored the influence of regional and local actions on our efforts to increase South Bay shoreline resilience to sea level rise. Participants helped develop scenarios to be considered in modeling studies, identified the key issues that require regional collaboration, and reviewed the first comprehensive illustration of planned South Bay shoreline projects. More information the goals, objectives, and background for the workshop, the agenda, and the presentations made can be found here

Christian Schwägerl has an interesting op-ed at Yale e360 about the growth of anti-science thinking globally, based on comments and attitudes prevalent in the positions of right wing parties in the US and Europe. He highlights the attacks on fisheries science as part of the Brexit campaign, and notes that German Chancellor Angela Merkel (a trained chemist) recently warned that Western societies are faced with a "post-fact world" in which emotions and ideology threaten to suppress scientific knowledge and evidence. (h/t Lauren Kahn)

An article in the New Yorker discusses how cities (Louisville, KY, is used as the example) are recognizing that the urban heat island effect exacerbates heat waves now and into future. Louisville and other cities have adopted tree planting and cool roof programs to reduce this impact. The Sacramento Municipal Utility District has had such a program in place for many years, focused on using shade trees to reduce air conditioning loads.

John Sutter at CNN has a profile on George Divoky, a scientist who has been studying Black Guillemots in the high arctic for over 30 years. The piece focuses on the biological impacts of arctic sea ice retreat, and the alarm of the scientists studying the region at the rate of change. Divoky notes “'you get very anxious and depressed' watching this unfold. It's like being in an animal shelter where you (thought) the animals were always adopted in the past, and now you realize they have to be euthanized."

The San Francisco Chronicle reports on the progress made since the signing of AB32 at enhancing the production of electricity from renewable sources in California. In PG&E’s service area, another homeowner now installs a rooftop solar array every seven minutes, and the Bay Area has become a national center for electric vehicles. However, we still have a long way to go to meet California’s new emission targets (40% reduction by 2030).

Scientific American has climate denial slide show of Tom Toles' cartoons.


BAECCC Brief: September 9, 2016

John King of the San Francisco Chronicle has a great article about how major developments underway along the San Francisco shoreline are integrating preparation for sea level rise. In many instances we can see the evolution of thinking as the reality of the need to plan for sea level rise is setting in. New Yorker Magazine has a fascinating article about the future of New York City as sea level rises, which explores managed retreat/living with water and what that might mean for the city.

Business Insider summarizes a recent paper by Columbia’s Geoff Heal that estimates the cost of reducing carbon emissions 80% by 2050. While the estimate seems like a lot ($42–176 billion), this is 0.2% - 1% of GDP. Key assumptions that contribute to the variability include the cost of large-scale electrical storage that does not currently exist and the speed with which we can build power lines for sharing capacity across longer distances. The work also assumes a general political agreement that produces policy direction from Congress, which some consider very unlikely.

Justin Gillis of the New York Times has an excellent piece on the sea level impacts that are already apparent on the Atlantic Coast. He notes the Federal government continues to subsidize the building (and rebuilding) of infrastructure in vulnerable areas. Norfolk has installed what are essentially huge vertical rulers at low-lying intersections so people know the depth of floodwaters. The Washington Post reports on the threat of sea level rise and coastal erosion in Barrow, Alaska, where the shoreline is retreating at 30-65 feet per year.

The International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) has released a report (summarized in the Guardian) describing the current and projected impacts of the heat being stored in the ocean by the enhanced greenhouse effect. 

Inside Science reports on a recent paper by Chris Field and colleagues at Stanford that reports on a 17-year experiment conducted at the Jasper Ridge Biological Preserve examining the response of grasslands to four interacting environmental variables -- temperature, precipitation, atmospheric carbon dioxide and nitrogen pollution. They found plant growth in the grassland was highly variable from year to year but that total annual growth declined the further away the experimental conditions veered from the historic average over the last several decades, suggesting sequestration of carbon by natural grasslands would not have a large mitigating impact on carbon concentrations in the atmosphere.

BCDC’s Adapting to Rising Tides program (ART) is partnering with AGU’s Thriving Earth Exchange (TEX) to connect local agencies with volunteer scientists who are willing to offer their assistance with planning challenges. The ART Program has already connected TEX with the Contra Costa Flood Control Agency, and TEX is interested in working with other local agencies and organizations that are ready and able to take advantage of this service. TEX will be hosting a workshop at the Fall AGU meeting (14 December from 8:30am – 1pm) where community leaders can discuss preliminarily scoped project ideas with relevant scientists. 

For those like me who find the continued repetition of the lie “no global warming in the last 15 [or whatever] years” painful and dangerous, I recommend a great short post by Tamino at Open Mind (Deniers: Is this the hill you really want to die on?). He thinks that because the denial community (and political leaders like Ted Cruz) relied heavily on an argument that is now so obviously false, they will have difficulty maintaining their position that the climate is not changing. We can only hope (Dave Roberts reports on recent sociological research that suggests climate change denial will remain as intense as ever in Congress). Joe Romm notes that all major datasets, including the satellite data, now show warming.

The webcomic XKCD has produced A Timeline of the Earth’s Average Temperature that is definitely worth a look.


BAECCC Brief: September 9, 2016

Bill McKibben published an article in the New Republic about the need to mobilize against climate change as we did during World War II. He not only reports on the threats we all know, but provides great detail about the physical and political aspects of the WWII mobilization and reports recent analyses that describe what a new mobilization looks like (building 15 mega-factories a year similar to the SolarCity plant opening outside Buffalo that will produce 1GW of solar panels a year). Dave Roberts has an good review of a critique of McKibben’s article.

The New York Times reports that low flows and high temperatures in the Yellowstone River have resulted in an outbreak of fish disease that as caused the Montana State Fish and Game Commission to close the Yellowstone to fishing at the height of the outdoor recreation season. The Washington Post reviews the latest planning in the Colorado Basin for the initiating of reduced diversions from Lake Mead; it appears this year's wet May will delay the onset of the diversion reductions from January 2017 to January 2018

Nature Magazine reviews Obama’s legacy of action to combat climate change. Bloomberg examines the threat to oil and gas infrastructure due to loss of land in southern Louisiana (600 miles of pipelines could be exposed to open water in the next 25 years), and various ways wetlands restoration activities are being funded in the region. There are major lawsuits seeking more funding from the oil and gas industry for restoration, and recently the State of Louisiana has joined as a plaintiff.

As an alternative to the many items I’ve included in past editions of the BAECCC Brief that highlight the lack of action in southern Florida given the threat sea level rise presents, an article at The Conversation reviews progress in climate change planning in this region. The Southeast Florida Regional Climate Change Compact has produced a unified sea level rise projection (this includes recommendations for infrastructure with an expected lifetime of greater than 50 years), and a Regional Climate Action Plan. The Compact negotiated the creation of Adaptation Action Areas by the State Legislature as part of a local government comprehensive plan’s Coastal Management Element. The intent of such a designation is to address coastal hazards and potential impacts to sea level rise in a specific location, and Fort Lauderdale is serving as a pilot location for this new planning option.

Dave Roberts at VOX has posted a time-lapse video of the construction of a 379 foot high wind turbine with a concrete tower. These taller turbines greatly increase the area in the United States where wind power can be generated effectively. 

An important point I make when I speak about climate change is that climate science was used to make predictions, and these predictions have now been observed. Tamino at Open Mind has a nice post reviewing the predictions that Hansen et al. (1981) made about the world in 2010.

Finally, the New York Times is producing a multi-part series called The Obama Era, and one of the six parts is entitled The Threat to the Planet. This includes a 15 minute interview with the President about climate change.


BAECCC Brief: August 23, 2016

The New York Times has an interesting article about peat bogs, their role in the carbon cycle, and how rising temperatures could increase carbon emissions from these ecosystems through fire and reduce their capacity to store carbon in the future. The Times also reports on World Weather Attribution, a project of Climate Central that is generating relatively fast assessment of the role of climate change in extreme weather events.

The Miami New Times reports on an email discussion among local building officials in south Florida that demonstrates the continued denial of climate change by those who should be planning for it. Meanwhile, the Washington Post has an excellent report on the public planning process underway to reduce the vulnerability of Hoboken, NJ, to storm surges.

An ongoing question among oceanographers is why the expected acceleration in sea level rise has not been apparent, as the rate of rise declined in the 2000s compared to the 1990s. The Washington Post reports on recent research that answers this question by investigating the impact of the eruption of Mt. Pinatubo, which occurred one year before satellite altimeter measurements of sea level rise began in 1992. The eruption actually depressed sea level rise in the few years after it occurred, and the resulting recovery later in the decade created an apparently higher rate of sea level rise in the 1990s than the 2000s. Removing this effect shows the two decades to be much more similar, and the researchers expect that “…barring another major volcanic eruption, a detectable acceleration is likely to emerge from the noise of internal climate variability in the coming decade.”

While in the Bay Area we are working to restore wetlands, the Statesman reports that the wetlands around Houston are being paved over. Fort Bend County outside of Houston showed a 53 percent increase in impervious surfaces between 2001 and 2011. The Guardian has an article reviewing some of the challenges of offshore (floating) wind turbines, such as those proposed by Trident Wind for a site 25 miles offshore of Cambria.

Bloomberg reports on information from NOAA regarding the increased frequency in the US of intense rainstorms (termed “rain bombs” in the vernacular or “microbursts” by meteorologists), and Chris Mooney in the Washington Post also reviews this topic in the light of the Louisiana flooding. The Bloomberg article includes an extraordinary photograph of a microburst taken from a helicopter above Phoenix, AZ. The Sacramento Bee reports on how warm and dry conditions (including less snowfall) are leading to a reduction in the famous clarity of Lake Tahoe, a situation of concern to the editorial board of the Fresno Bee.

The Western Ecological Research Center of the US Geological Survey has just published an Open File Report to support coastal management and conservation efforts in California by examining the projected effects of three recent SLR scenarios produced for the West Coast of North America on tidal marshes. They conclude that California marshes are vulnerable to major habitat shifts under mid or high rates of SLR, especially in the latter part of the century, with a concomitant loss of the ecosystem services these marshes provide. The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports on the reduction in salt marsh extent in coastal Georgia, which has been attributed to higher temperatures and drought.

Joe Romm notes that the Atlantic “major hurricane drought” in recent headlines is simply a function of the specific definition of a major hurricane (maximum wind velocity at the time of landfall), as neither Irene [2011; $8 billion in damage], Sandy (2012; $88 billion), or Ike (2008; $30 billion) qualify (Ike made landfall with a maximum windspeed of 110 mph, 1 mph less than the definition of major hurricane). Many are suggesting hurricanes should be categorized based upon barometric pressure, not windspeed.

Finally, Margaret Hetherman has a great article in Scientific American Are We Feeling Collective Grief Over Climate Change? I recommend this article to all those who (like me) are engaged with the realities of climate change on a regular basis.


BAECCC Brief: August 8, 2016

Michael Klare has written an article about the recent International Energy Outlook produced by the Energy Information Administration of the Department of Energy, which projected an increase in fossil fuel consumption worldwide in the next two decades. Despite the amazing growth of wind and solar, we are still on track to obtain over 75% of our energy from fossil fuels by 2040. This is a depressing trend, but I hope that EIA is under-predicting the rate of expansion of renewable energy as they have done in the past

Here’s a great article from the New York Times about President Obama’s interest in science. I had a chance to talk to John Holdren, the President’s Science Advisor, at Berkeley last year, and he told the same story of a President who is deeply engaged with science and its role in public policy.

The hottest June ever continues the trend that is likely to make 2016 our hottest year ever. This short article summarizes how “the pause in global warming” argument, a red herring to begin with, is not in vogue with deniers anymore due to recent temperature data. The New York Times reviews climate change as an issue in the Presidential election.

Alaska Dispatch News reports on the planning for shoreline resilience in Barrow, Alaska, a region experiencing significant coastal erosion (3 m/yr over the last 60 years). This includes discussion of the Barrow Area Information Database, an on-line system with several tools to support display of spatial information to support planning.

Climate Central reviews a recent study from the National Center for Atmospheric Research (in Geophysical Research Letters) that concludes (as others have) that negative carbon emissions will be required toward the end of this century if global average temperatures are not to exceed 2°C above pre-industrial average. The required amount of negative emissions can be greatly reduced by even small decreases in emission rates over the next few years. 

As part of NOAA’s Digital Coast, there is a new online training entitled How to Consider Climate Change in Coastal Conservation. This is one of seventeen self-guided resources on this site offering training on coastal planning issues and techniques.

A couple of years ago a fantastic series about climate change appeared on the Showtime network called The Years of Living Dangerously. Developed and produced by two TV producers with years of experience working for 60 Minutes, the documentary series (which is available on iTunes, Hulu, Vimeo, and other outlets) used celebrity “reporters” to investigate key aspects of climate change. This fall a second season will be produced for National Geographic Television, a much larger network than Showtime, and you can watch the trailer for the second season here.

The Coastal Conservancy has announced a Proposition 1 grant solicitation. The grant solicitation and application information is posted here.


BAECCC Brief: July 25, 2016

Jeff Goodell at The Rolling Stone has produced another great piece about sea level rise adaption, Can New York Be Saved in the Era of Global Warming? I have often pointed people to his excellent article from 2013 (Goodbye, Miami), and I think he is clearly establishing himself as one of our premier journalists covering the impact of sea level rise on American cities.

The written summary of the May 26th BAECCC meeting is now available. This meeting included presentations about the San Francisco Bay Living Shorelines project, the North End Wetlands Enhancement and Sea Level Rise Adaptation Project in Bolinas Lagoon, Climate Action through Conservation that examined carbon sequestration by natural lands in Sonoma County, and recent state policy developments related to climate change resilience.

Dave Roberts at VOX has an interesting article on why pricing carbon alone is an inadequate policy response to the problem of carbon emissions. Issues of political economy, need for technology development, and opportunities to address related problems (such public health, social justice, and equity) will not be addressed if we only drive change at the margin with a price on carbon.

The Baltimore Sun reports on the National Park Service’s management planning for the Assateague Island National Seashore, a 37 mile long barrier island along the Atlantic shore of Maryland (extending a bit into Virginia). The Park Service is thinking a lot about accepting natural changes rather than fighting them, including the possibility of replacing the auto bridge with a ferry if the bridge is damaged in the future.

The LA Times reports on the declining water levels in Lake Mead and its implications for Arizona and California. The article focuses on incremental actions being taken now by Arizona to keep water in Lake Mead and avoid mandatory cuts in diversions that might trigger a “water war.”

The Washington Post reports on a paper in Nature that documents a shift in the earth’s cloud cover over the last several decades. Cloud cover has shifted northward, and cloud tops are higher, both changes that have been projected by climate models. The Post also has another article reporting on the response of other scientists to this important finding.

The San Jose Mercury News reports that recent research from Humbolt State has documented that redwood forests store vast amounts of carbon, even larger than some previous estimates. Particularly important characteristics include how large the trees get, how long they live, and how resistant they are to degradation.

In Puget Sound kelp farming is being tested as a method for buffering local waters against the impacts of ocean acidification. Kelp uptake of carbon dioxide could influence local ocean chemistry. In kelp farms in Maine’s Casco Bay, the carbon saturation rate of seawater was measured as 25 percent higher than surrounding waters, which would make it easier for organisms such as oysters, clams and mussels to form hard shells.

The New York Times reports about a major landslide on a glacier in southeast Alaska (great photo). These type of landslides are expected to become more common as glaciers melt. A landslide event last October at the Tyndall glacier caused a wave in the Taan Fjord of Icy Bay that sheared off trees 500 feet above sea level, one of the largest such wave events on record.

There are some great products now available on the Climate Commons from the work of the Terrestrial Biodiversity Climate Change Collaborative and Climate Ready North Bay. These include a knowledge-base for regions in the northern Bay Area, a set of factsheets detailing projected impacts of climate on vegetation for select Landscape Units identified by the Conservation Lands Network, and the beta release of the San Francisco Bay Area Climate-Smart Watershed Analyst that allows you to access climate and hydrology information by watershed in the Bay Area.


BAECCC Brief: July 11, 2016

Climate Central has an interactive graphic that allows you to view long-term temperature trends at major national parks. They also review the status of California’s drought, noting how atmospheric high pressure during the El Niño that just finished kept California (and particularly southern California) drier than expected as the storm track stayed north. 

The Davis Enterprise reports on SB 1386 (Wolk, D-Davis), which declares it to be state policy that protecting and managing natural and working lands is key to meeting California’s climate change goals. The bill passed through the Assembly Committee on Natural Resources on June 27. Dave Roberts at VOX reviews the current status of California’s carbon market (cap & trade system), which is facing legal and administrative challenges.

The Los Angeles Times reports on a new study from UCLA projecting future temperatures in the Los Angeles region. The number if extreme heat days (>95°F) in downtown Los Angeles is expected to climb from 6 in the 1990s to 54 by 2100 under a business as usual scenario, but only to 15 under a scenario of aggressive carbon emissions reduction.

PRI has an article about sea level rise adaption in Rotterdam, which includes the worlds largest tidal surge barrier in addition to natural infrastructure as well (check out the Sand Motor). WGBH has a report about adaptation planning and actions underway in Boston, including a living shoreline created as part of a private development. A short summary is available here of a recent assessment by Risk Management Solutions of vulnerable property in San Francisco. An interesting article in Scientific American focuses on the serious efforts in south Florida to prepare for climate change, no matter how much denial is still rampant in the State government. The New Miami Times reports on a proposal to place impact fees on new development to support sea level rise adaptation in Miami-Dade County.

The New York Times has a superb, in-depth article about the island of Tangier, Virginia, one of the towns in the US most vulnerable to sea level rise. The article highlights our struggle to determine where to retreat and where to fortify our coast line. The story focuses on the work of an engineer with the US Army Corps of Engineers, and also describes the major restoration project the Corps is undertaking at Poplar Island, MD, (using dredged material from the Port of Baltimore to rebuild the island as a wildlife refuge). The Times also reports on managed retreat underway on Cape Cod.

The Washington Post reports on a recent research paper that documents the expansion of the Indo-Pacific warm pool over the last sixty years, the vast area of warm ocean water that influences many features of regional and global climate. The authors attribute over 80% of this expansion to warming from greenhouse gases. The Post also reports on an op-ed in Nature Climate Change that suggests the temperature target range in the Paris Accord (1.5 – 2°C increase over pre-industrial level) would avoid some of the tipping points that would induce further climate change (but not others). The authors suggest the target is necessary, feasible, and simple (the latter being vital for developing political will).


BAECCC Brief: June 26, 2016

Newsweek has an article about melting permafrost, focusing on central Alaska with an interesting case study of a homeowner who is watching his house slowly fall into a lake (article has an imbedded This is Not Cool video from Peter Sinclair as a bonus). The Washington Post reports on Alaska’s warmest spring in the 91-year state meteorological record, and Nuuk, the capital of Greenland, recorded its highest June temperature ever on June 9.

Slate reports on the recent extraordinary flooding in Houston, which experienced two 100-year rainstorms in less than a week last month. The problem is exacerbated by land use practices in Houston, which like many cities has replaced wetlands with urban hardscape. The Washington Post reports on the meteorological pattern that contributed to the recent historic flooding in France and Germany.

The Washington Post reports on the changes to the grassland ecosystems of North Dakota. In just six years, North Dakota lost half of its acreage that was protected under the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) as biodiverse grasslands were destroyed to plant commodity crops like corn and soybeans. And another article the Post reports that despite the benefits of street trees for human health and welfare, recent research suggests that in US cities we are removing more trees than are being planted.

I have found that discussing the history of climate science is a very valuable way for encouraging doubtful audiences or individuals to reconsider their opinions (two great resources are The Discovery of Global Warming from the American Institute of Physics and The History of Climate Science from Skeptical Science). The Washington Post has a great article that discusses Senate hearings chaired 30 years ago by John H. Chaffee (R- RI) regarding climate change (these hearings occurred two years before the more famous Senate hearings where Jim Hansen stated that the anthropogenic warming signal had been detected).

Professor Alexander Forrest of UC Davis has published an article at The Conversation (based upon a 2015 paper in Limnology & Oceanography [abstract]) about the potential impact of climate change on large lake ecosystems including Lake Tahoe. Using climate change projections to drive a hydrodynamic model of Lake Tahoe they conclude that increased surface temperatures and decreased wind speeds could enhance eutrophication by interrupting vertical water movements (lake “turnover”).

The City of Carlsbad, CA, has published a sea level rise vulnerability assessment (news report here, full assessment here). The Voice of San Diego reports the vulnerability of the city of Imperial Beach to sea level rise, and the city of Monterey is also conducting a vulnerability assessment.

Clemson University reports that their faculty has collaborated on a habitat connectivity analysis of the eastern seaboard that integrates sea level rise, which demonstrates how rising seas and changed rural land uses will be pressuring key predators in the future (journal paper here). They conclude that using corridors to reconnect fragments of natural habitat is essential for promoting the survival of many species.

The New Yorker has reprinted a wonderful commencement address by Atul Gawande, the author of Being Mortal, delivered at CalTech in June 2016, about the growing mistrust of science.


BAECCC Brief: June 13, 2016

Inside Climate news reports on NOAA’s announcement that greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere continue to increase, with CO2 reaching 399 ppm as an annual average in 2015 (1.5% increase from the previous year). Methane and nitrous oxide concentrations also continue to increase at accelerating rates.

The Christian Science Monitor reports that a new study indicates subsidence rates in New Orleans are accelerating, exacerbating the impacts of sea level rise. Andy Horowitz, a professor of history at Tulane, has an op-ed in the New York Times arguing that the new FEMA flood plain maps for New Orleans underestimate flood risk and lead to residents misunderstanding their vulnerability. Also in the Times, a report on the impact of the drought and related intrusion of saline water on rice production in the Mekong Delta, and how hydropower dam construction upstream is projected to reduce sediment inflows to the delta in coming decades.

Cephalopod populations (squid, octopus, and cuttlefish) are increasing worldwide, according to a new study summarized in the New York Times. It is interesting to see an article such as this from the Business Insider that describes how the rate of global warming has been accelerating (1900-1958 = 0.007 °C per year; 1958 - 2015 = 0.015 °Celsius per year, and February 1998 to February 2016 = 0.025 °Celsius per year). It is important that the business community is receiving accurate information.

Lake Mead has dropped to an all time low elevation (1,074 ft; you can track the water level in real time here). If the Lake remains at this level in January, a first step in rationing supply, and by treaty Arizona, Nevada, and Mexico will have to cut their withdrawals (it is likely that water will be released from Lake Powell to prevent this from happening). Paul Rogers reports in the San Jose Mercury on a Department of Fish and Wildlife Study that documents shifts over time by tree species in the Sierra Nevada. More temperature sensitive species are moving to higher elevations, consistent with predicted response to global warming.

It is clear that we will need to reach negative CO2 emissions this century to keep global average temperature increases to no more than 2°C. Yale e360 interviews physicist Klaus Lackner about the role for air capture technology in achieving this goal by removing CO2 from the atmosphere, and the feasibility of doing this on a large scale. Scientific American has an interview with Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack in which he stresses the importance of carbon sequestration in working lands as a climate solution.

The New Yorker reports on a recent report from the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) and the Union of Concerned Scientists regarding the projected impacts of climate change on UNESCO World Heritage sites.

Andrew Revkin reports in the New York Times that Donald Trump signed a letter with other business people in 2009 urging action in Copenhagen ("If we fail to act now, it is scientifically irrefutable that there will be catastrophic and irreversible consequences for humanity and our planet.”) Now, of course, he has a very different position, and ThinkProgress recently reported on the implications of Mr. Trump’s energy plan by interviewing some leading climate scientists.


BAECCC Brief: May 23, 2016

The Washington Post summarizes a recent study that describes the potential for de-oxygenation of parts of the world’s oceans at a faster rate than previously estimated. Another article in the Post summarizes recent research supporting the contention that sea ice declines are a major factor in the frequency of blocking events over Greenland. Such a blocking event contributed to Hurricane Sandy taking a westward turn over the United States instead of following the more normal path of late-season hurricanes into the north Atlantic.

The Guardian has an article about sea level rise in the Bay Area, with a focus on the vulnerability of Facebook and Google (h/t Anne Morkill). An article from the Long Beach Press Telegram discusses sea level rise planning underway in Long Beach. Newsweek reports on flood control planning in Honolulu, which is focused on the interaction of fluvial and tidal flooding. And National Geographic reports on coastal resilience efforts in Atlantic City, New Jersey, a community hard hit by Hurricane Sandy that is still suffering from its effects.

Meanwhile, there is appears to be a slow awakening to the scale of the problems sea level rise poses for south Florida. The Charlotte Observer reports about the efforts of some Republican members of Congress from the region to build momentum for addressing the problem. Climate Progress has an article about the challenges of action at the City level that focuses on two mayors from south Florida, and this includes an interactive graphic from Climate Central that presents sea level in Miami in 2100 under differing emission scenarios. I recently spent an afternoon with Henry Briceno, a professor at Florida International University who has documented that king tides in Miami are forcing polluted groundwater to the surface that greatly exceeds federal health standards. After a year of frustration getting government officials to pay attention, Henry reluctantly shared his results with the Miami Herald to call attention to this issue.

Stefan Ramsdorf at RealClimate reviews multiple lines of recent data which suggest the Atlantic Meridional Overturning Current (AMOC) slowed down in the later part of the 20th century, and again recently, contributing to cold waters in the north Atlantic and warmer waters in the Gulf of Maine and elsewhere. An article in Yale’s environment360 reviews the growing evidence that dynamic ice sheet processes could greatly increase projected rates of sea level rise from those published by the IPCC.

The New York Times reports about the factors, including global warming, that have increased fire danger in Canada and contributed to the massive fire burning in the area of Fort McMurry, Alberta. A subsequent article reviews the increase in fire frequency and severity across the entire boreal region, including Russia, Canada, and Alaska. A guest post at Carbon Brief by Professor Richard Betts reviews the carbon fertilization effects for plant growth in a higher-CO2 world.


BAECCC Brief: May 10, 2016

The California Ocean Science Trust has released a report about ocean acidification on the west coast (news report with Puget Sound focus here). The report highlights the importance of additional “co-stressors” in the environment, such as biological oxygen demand that drives respiration and CO2 production, as important to understanding the impacts of acidification in the field.

The Washington Post reports on the Danish Meteorological Society announcement of a record-breaking melt of the Greenland Ice Sheet. Likely due to the warm weather conditions that have brought rain, nearly 12 percent of the ice sheet’s surface is covered with a layer of meltwater at least a millimeter deep, a condition never before seen in April.

An article in Environment 360 considers the question of what constitutes a native plant in a changing world, and how horticulture is serving as a mechanism for the movement of plant species north.

Here’s a good article from The Desert Sun summarizing information suggesting that transitioning away from fossil fuels will not lead to economic ruin, and Hal Harvey has a great summary of policy solutions to the climate problem as an op-ed in The Hill. The Washington Post reports that EPA has increased its estimate for methane emissions in the United States, due primarily to increasing the estimate for emissions from the oil and gas sector.

Reuters has an interesting article about how drought and dam operations are contributing to salt water intrusion in the Mekong Delta, an area that is an important producer of rice and seafood for Vietnam and is home to 20 million people. Saltwater has penetrated 56 miles inland, and the saltwater intrusion is exacerbated by subsidence due to groundwater withdrawals. An article in Forbes (search on Mekong Delta) notes the implications of these impacts in the Mekong for political conflict in the region.

The Miami Herald reports on sea level rise planning effort for the Southeast being started by the US Army Corps of Engineers, and the New York Times reports on one of our nation’s first efforts to move a community in Louisiana due to the impacts of sea level rise. Here’s a brief report on how higher sea levels during El Niño helped southern California scientists study shoreline impacts. The Texas Monthly poses the question of sustainability in Houston, which has experienced historic floods in each of the last two years.

And finally, Jimmy Kimmel talks about Sarah Palin, climate change, and shows a video with scientists who tell it like it is.


BAECCC Brief: April 21, 2016

RealClimate has an excellent post that tracks how the myth that volcanoes produce more greenhouse gases than human activities developed and propagated through the media. A speculative paper about HCl emitted in a volcano 700,000 years ago is the progenitor of statements claiming greenhouse gases from volcanoes compare to all industrial emissions in a year, 100 years, or since the industrial revolution.

The Washington Post and the New York Times report on the longer and more intense fire season that is the new normal in the United States.

Climate Progress reports on the first pilot effort to generate carbon offsets for rice farmers through alternative growing techniques that reduce emissions of greenhouse gases. Bloomberg has an interesting article about the early career of Charles David Keeling, including his discovery of the seasonal cycle in atmospheric concentrations of carbon dioxide and his determination that annual average concentrations were rising. 

While coal company bankruptcies and coal plant retirements are a hopeful sign that the world is moving away from this fossil fuel, Carbon Brief reports that new coal plant construction is still very large in China, and vast numbers of plants are on the drawing board. If constructed, these facilities would siphon away capital that would support the transition away from fossil fuels, and would make meeting the 2°C target very difficult.

The Washington Post reports on how new bathymetric maps of the coast of Greenland are influencing models of ocean/ice sheet interactions in the region. The new maps, now only available for part of the coast, show that many fjords are actually much deeper than previously thought.

The Desert Sun has published an interesting interview with Don Cameron, for 35 years the vice president and general manager of Terranova Ranch near Fresno, about the need for California growers to take proactive steps to prepare for climate change. Among the activities underway at Terranova Ranch is a project to capture floodwaters for groundwater recharge (1,000 acre-ft per day when the project is complete). The Christian Science Monitor reports on a new study published in Nature that documents how changing agricultural practices can result in sequestration of carbon from the atmosphere. These practices will also produce benefits in terms of healthier soils, and ecosystem services such as less runoff, less soil erosion, and less nitrate leaching into waterways.

John Sutter at CNN has an in-depth look at British Columbia’s carbon tax, which has been in place since 2008. Citizens in the State of Washington will be voting on a carbon tax this year.

The Los Angeles Times reports on carbon sequestration in the desert mangroves of the Baja Peninsula (research conducted by scientists at Scripps Institution of Oceanography). Measurements suggest that despite their smaller areal extent, these ecosystems can sequester carbon at rates that exceed their tropical counterparts.

The San Francisco Chronicle has endorsed Measure AA (The San Francisco Bay Clean Water, Pollution Prevention, and Habitat Restoration Measure), joining a long list of Bay Area organizations and elected officials that are supporting the measure that will be on the June ballot.


BAECCC Brief: April 11, 2016

James Hansen and colleagues have published a paper identifying the potential for much more significant sea level rise in the coming century than previous studies, based mainly on feedbacks triggered by cold surface meltwater in Greenland and Antarctica. They conclude global climate models (including their own) are less sensitive to surface meltwater than the real climate system because the models have too much surface mixing. In an interesting development for climate communications, Hansen narrates a video abstract here. Chris Mooney reviews the paper here for the Washington Post; Joe Romm for Climate Progress here.

RealClimate has a post about the many different sources of uncertainty when planning for sea level rise beyond just the physical uncertainty of future tidal heights. The New York Times has an update on NASA’s approach for protecting the launch facilities at Cape Canaveral from sea level rise and storm surge.

The NASA Earth Observatory has published comparative images of the Sacramento Valley from March 2015 and March 2016. Using the “View Image Comparison” button below the second photo, you can swipe back and forth to compare the images. Not only does this show the difference in the abundance of water, but also the huge burn scars from the Valley and Rocky/Jerusalem fires and the smaller Wragg fire SE of Lake Berryessa. (h/t David Asbury)

The Washington Post reports that maximum winter arctic sea ice was likely reached on March 24th. At 5.607 million square miles, this is the smallest maximum ever recorded for the arctic ice cap. Climate Central reports on the impact of climate change on the maple syrup industry (It was reported to me that altered maple syrup production was a key climate change impact that caught the attention of President Clinton during a scientific briefing on climate change in the mid-1990s).

Venkat Srinivasan, a San Francisco based writer, has a guest blog in Scientific American about the need for sediment to restore wetlands in San Francisco Bay.

Senator Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), one of the great climate champions in the US Senate, has asked the Department of Justice to investigate if certain oil companies are guilty of racketeering for fraudulent statements about climate science. This request has led to the Senator being compared to Spanish Inquisitors on the pages of the Wall Street Journal. The Senator has responded to these accusations. Professor Michael Mann, whose work was also attacked by the WSJ, has responded as well.

The New York Times reports on the world-wide coral bleaching event now underway due to elevated ocean temperatures, and Brad Plumer at Vox also reports this event with a focus on the Great Barrier Reef.

The San Francisco Bay Clean Water, Pollution Prevention, and Habitat Restoration Program, known as the “Clean and Healthy Bay Ballot Measure,” will be on the June ballot as Measure AA in the nine-county Bay Area. The measure would raise $500 million over 20 years, administered by the San Francisco Bay Restoration Authority, to fund critical Bay restoration and flood protection projects. The funds would be derived from a parcel tax of $12/yr. The passage of this measure would be an extremely valuable step in preparing the Bay Area for sea level rise. More about the measure is on the Save The Bay website here.


BAECCC Brief: March 21, 2016

The New York Times has an article and video about the partial decommissioning of offshore oil platforms in California waters. The submerged portion of oil rigs can support rich assemblages of native species, causing some to suggest that leaving the deeper part of rig structures in place (below 80 feet) will benefit the coastal environment.

An article at Inside Climate News focuses on resiliency planning in Fort Lauderdale, and documents the current expectation for enormous growth in the City despite the clear and growing impacts of sea level (there are “no wake" signs in certain neighborhoods that are meant for drivers on flooded streets to limit the creation of waves that force water onto nearby properties). The Miami Herald has a recent article and great video about sea level rise adaptation in Miami. The Mayor of Pinecrest (in South Florida) demands climate action in a recent op-ed. Ahead of the Tide, a coalition of groups in Florida, has produced an excellent 10-video video series about sea level rise.

The Bismarck Tribune reports on shifts in agricultural productivity due to climate change, and quotes the North Dakota State Climatologist that the average temperature in North Dakota has increased at a pace exceeding all of the other states in the country since 1890. From the unusual impact department, the BBC reports that flooding in the Cumbria region of England from Storms Desmond and Eva has resulted in a shortage of popular tea biscuits (h/t Robert Blizzard).

Climate Central reports on the sediment management in San Francisco Bay as an important component of wetlands restoration and building resilience to sea level rise. The article references the Baylands Ecosystem Habitat Goals Update, and quotes many eloquent BAECCC participants as well! The Contra Costa times has published an editorial supporting the parcel tax on the June ballot that will provide funding for the San Francisco Bay Restoration Authority.

Climate Central also has a nice review of promises and problems for nuclear power as a climate change solution, and Newsweek has a feature article on the evangelical movement for climate action.

The Washington Post reports on the significant increase in average atmospheric carbon dioxide concentration in 2015, driven in part by impacts of El Niño. Also in the Post is an article about how New Yorkers ate a storm surge barrier over the last 400 years (hint: oysters are tasty).

Reuters reports on a coastal bloom of micro algae that is decimating portions of Chile’s salmon-farming industry. Higher ocean temperatures driven by El Niño is likely a key driver of the bloom. The New York Times reports on the spread of the Southern Pine Beetle into New England. As with the spread of the Mountain Pine Beetle in the West, warmer winter temperatures due to climate change are a key driver of these infestations.

And from the not climate-smart department: The Provincial Government of the Northwest Territories increased the weight limit on a key ice road after the warmest February in history (oops).


BAECCC Brief: March 7, 2016

Science Daily reports on a recent study in Nature Climate Change (preview here) suggesting that salt marshes may be more resilient to sea level rise than previously thought. The lead author notes that "simple models that don't simulate the dynamic feedbacks that allow marshes to adapt not only to present rates of sea-level rise but the accelerated rates predicted for coming decades.” This leads to the conclusion that salt marshes with restricted sediment supplies are particularly vulnerable to sea level rise, a finding of importance to the marshes in San Francisco Bay.

The New York Times has an interesting article about how the notion of “invasive species” is evolving given our advancing knowledge of historic distributions and the rate of change in the present-day environment. This is an issue that I expect will be revisited frequently in coming decades as change accelerates and decisions such as relocation or assisted migration become more common.

Here is an interesting article from a Cairo-based writer (Peter Schwartzstein) about sea level rise in Alexandria, Egypt, with a focus on the historic cultural sites that are being damaged. Alexandria, which is located in the Nile delta, is suffering from the combination of sea level rise and loss of sediment inputs from the Nile. 40 million people live in Alexandria and the Nile delta (half of Egypt’s population), and many parts of the delta are already up to 5 meters below sea level.

John Sutter of CNN interviews Susanne Torriente, Chief Resilience Officer for the City of Miami Beach, about adapting to rising sea level. Here’s an interesting article from the Williston Herald (N. Dakota) that describes the results of a regional climate change impact study on agricultural productivity in eastern Montana and western North Dakota. Clearly, across the country more and more people are taking the time to understand the regional impacts of climate change, and the results of these studies are influencing how Americans think about the issue.

The Atlantic has a nice summary of issues surrounding the Aedes mosquitos, zika virus, and climate change. Bloomberg reports on the drought in South Africa, which is escalating the price of corn and other staples. Joe Romm reports on recent developments regarding satellite measurements of tropospheric temperatures. RSS has published corrections to their satellite dataset that increase the rate of warming by 60%, and UAH has announced that February 2016 was the hottest month ever recorded in their dataset, 1.5°F above their baseline.

The Los Angeles Times reports on a recent study that has found a strong correlation between the type of forage fish consumed by adult female sea lions and the weight of sea lion pups. The data (from the Channel Islands) indicate that the abundance of sardines and anchovies is positively correlated with the weight of sea lion pups, while the opposite is true when rockfish and squid are plentiful in adult diets. The more nutritious fish are less available in the foraging region of the adult sea lions during El Niño years, although there may be other explanations as well for the observed changes in fish populations.

Al Gore delivered the latest version of his 20-minute presentation as a TED talk in Vancouver last month in which he talks about his optimism for our ability to address the climate crisis.


BAECCC Brief: February 26, 2016

The California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) has just produced a Climate Change Vulnerability Assessment of California’s Terrestrial Vegetation. This study, which highlights the relative vulnerability to projected climate impacts of all vegetation communities in California, was conducted by UC Davis as part of CDFW’s State Wildlife Action Plan 2015 update.

The Washington Post reports on harmful algal blooms in the north Pacific and Alaska that are likely driven by warmer water temperatures, and the apparent impact of the toxins from these alga on marine mammals. Another Washington Post report summarizes recent research linking sea star wasting and lobster shell diseases to warmer oceans.

New research on carbonate metabolism in mussels suggests a mechanism by which these organisms may be able to adapt, in a limited fashion, to ocean acidification. This interesting interview with Harvard geophysicist Jerry Montrovica summarizes how the gravitational changes due to mass loss as ice sheets melt can produce some counter-intuitive changes to sea level. You can also learn why geophysicists are interested in eclipses recorded by the Babylonians. (h/t Lauren Kahn)

Inside Climate News has a perspective on how the death of Justice Scalia will impact climate related decisions of the Supreme Court. Ken Kimmel, President of the Union of Concerned Scientists, blogs that many people are over-reacting to the Supreme Court’s decision to stay implementation of the Clean Power Plan (among other points, he notes that 21 states are already on target for surpassing the Plan’s requirements due to their own policies).

Senator Ted Cruz’s (R-TX) held a hearing (Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation) on December 8, 2015 “Data or Dogma: Promoting Open Inquiry in the Debate over the Magnitude of Human Impact on the Earth’s Climate.” At this hearing he made a point (as he repeatedly does on the campaign trail) of claiming the satellite measurements of atmospheric temperatures show “no global warming” in the last 18 years. Lawrence Livermore scientist Ben Santer, and Carl Mears of Remote Sensing Systems (RSS is the curator of one of the two satellite temperature records), have prepared a joint blog post explaining why Senator Cruz’s interpretation of these data is incorrect and misleading. Phil Plait at Slate reviews why bias-correction of land-based thermometer data make the dataset more accurate, not less accurate as many deniers claim.

Several papers recently appeared in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences regarding sea level rise in the past (last 2,500 years) and future. Among other interesting findings is that sea level has risen more during the 20th century than during any previous century. A post on RealClimate by Stefan Ramsdorf reviews these papers (New York Times summary of one paper here).

A former Congressman and Attorney General from Kentucky is calling for developing renewable energy in his state. Andy Revkin of the New York Times reports on his recent interview with Bill Gates regarding the new investment fund for transition to nonpolluting energy sources called the Breakthrough Energy Coalition that Gates and several other wealthy individuals have created (an interview of Gates by Revkin is here).


BAECCC Brief: February 12, 2016

Newsweek’s Nina Burleigh produced a excellent article last month about the politics of sea level rise in south Florida. As we are all aware, without state and federal leadership the local governments of south Florida have been left to deal with the current and impending problems, and some panic is beginning to set in. The article notes that Presidential candidate Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) has been missing in action, and suggests that climate denial in Florida will become a growing political problem for the the Republican party.

Andy Revkin at the New York Times reports on the emergence of a bi-partisan Climate Solutions Caucus in the House of Representatives, founded by a Democrat and a Republican from south Florida. The Miami Herald reports that the Mayors of 12 cities in Southern Florida have sent a letter to Presidential candidates Marco Rubio and Jeb Bush asking them "to meet with local leaders to "discuss the risks facing Florida communities due to climate change and help us chart a path forward to protect our state and the entire United States.”

The Chronicle reports on the rising Folsom Lake (with a great comparative photo of lake levels), but notes we’ve got a ways to go to alleviate the drought.

NBC-TV in the Bay Area reports on the horizontal levee demonstration project at Oro Loma. The Chronicle also reports on a major Forest Service study (Effects of Drought on Forests and Rangelands of the United States). The report describes how hotter, drier and more extreme weather will spark massive insect outbreaks, tree and plant die-offs, bigger and more costly wildfires, and economic impacts to timber and rangeland habitat.

The Washington Post has an interesting article summarizing the arguments suggesting that the Atlantic Meridional Overturning Current (AMOC) is weakening, as evidenced by the cold water off of southern Greenland and warming along the US East Coast. These arguments imply that the northwest Atlantic will be a place of significant climatic change in the future, that this could include more precipitation (including major snow storms) on the east coast of North America.

The IUCN has produced a video about Marine Protected Areas in the Mediterranean Sea, highlighting their role in providing ecosystem services, mitigating the impacts of climate change and increasing ecological and socioeconomic resilience of biodiversity and surrounding coastal communities. (h/t Sara Hutto)

The blog It’s OK to be Smart by Joe Hanson has two useful videos for climate communicators: Why People Don’t Believe in Climate Science and Climate Science: What You Need to Know.

I think it’s always great to pause now and then and reflect on progress we’ve made. I found time to do that this week when I watched the President’s weekly address (Doubling Our Clean Energy Funding to Address the Challenge of Climate Change). In a decade we’ve gone from this issue being “off the radar" to the agreement in Paris and having the President of the United States routinely remark about the climate crisis and our capacity to address it. We have a long way to go, but there is no doubt we started the journey.


BAECCC Brief: January 26, 2016

The Mercury News reports on the impact of El Niño driven storms on beach and bluff erosion in Monterey and Pacific Grove. High waves in combination with high tides are removing a lot of sand from beaches along the coast. And it is good to remember that El Niño is a global phenomenon: Reuters reports on the impact of drought on livestock and people in Zimbabwe, and on agriculture in Zambia affected by El Niño.

The Carbon Brief has an interesting interview with Myles Allen and Friederike Otto of Oxford University about the attribution of extreme events. They point out how varied their results are (about half show no influence of increased concentrations of greenhouse gases), and that climate change is making some extreme events less likely (e.g., springtime flooding in England driven by snowmelt).

Inside Climate News reports that the Omnibus budget bill passed by Congress and signed by the President included the administration’s new policies about flood protection that call for preparation for more frequent and intense floods in the future. The new policies are based on the President’s Executive Order No. 13690. The California Water Blog has a short article describing the restoration of the Consumnes River floodplain. And here’s a great op-ed in The Hill from Rep Cohen (D-Tenn) using the recent flooding in the midwest to argue for the need to mitigate carbon emissions.

I’ve noted recently how the retreat of specific glaciers are serving as iconic indicators of a changing climate for specific communities where these glaciers have been fixed components of the environment. These include Lyell Glacier in the Sierras, Walker Glacier in Nevada, and now the AP reports on the retreat of the Arikaree Glacier in the mountains above Boulder, CO.

The New York Times reports what is no surprise I’m sure to BAECCC participants: 2015 was the hottest year on record. Here’s a brief addendum from AP has a concise story about the difference between ground-based thermometer measurements and high-altitude temperature estimate from satellites. The latter dataset is receiving a lot of attention recently as Senator Cruz is using these data to claim there “has been no global warming in the last 18 years."

The Washington Post reports on the mass death of Common Murres in Prince William Sound from starvation. There is much speculation that the unusually warm water in this part of Alaska is impact the bird’s food resources. And Reuters reports that a warm Indian Ocean also appears to reducing phytoplankton productivity and contributing to less productive fisheries.

Jeff Goodell has written an interesting analysis in Rolling Stone of the Paris Accord based upon his experience at the meeting, that includes the “play-by-play” of the final edits and adoption. BusinessGreen reports on the influence of corporate/business voices in Paris.

VOX has a video about sea level rise that focuses on the recent king tides in San Francisco (starring our own Marina Psaros and David Behar). And The New York Times has published an article about the San Francisco Estuary Institute’s Resilient Landscapes program, which focuses on the restoration of the Napa River.

On January 13th the San Francisco Bay Restoration Authority voted to place the San Francisco Bay Clean Water, Pollution Prevention, and Habitat Restoration Program, known as the Clean and Healthy Bay Ballot Measure, on the June 2016 ballot in all nine Bay Area counties. Passage of the measure will require approval by 2/3 of the total voters casting ballots cumulatively across all nine Bay Area counties in the June 2016 election.

The measure would raise $500 million over 20 years to fund critical Bay restoration and flood protection projects. This is a very exciting and important opportunity to further the goals of the BAECCC Strategic Plan, and related goals of many other organizations in the region.

The Press Release announcing the action indicates the broad support the measure enjoys among elected officials, business leaders, and environmental organizations around the region.


BAECCC Brief: January 13, 2016

The New York Times reports on flooding in Northern England, which follows last year’s major flooding in the southern part of the country. Flood defenses were overwhelmed, the Army has been brought in to protect life and property, and a public debate about adapting to a world with more extreme storm events is underway. Meanwhile, USA today reports that the cost of the flooding along the Mississippi will exceed $1Billion according to NOAA. This El-Nino driven flooding is highly unusual for this time of year, with the Mississippi River at Cape Girardeau, Mo., setting an all-time flood record of 48.86 feet last week (breaking the record set during the floods of 1993). And here’s a perspective from St. Louis on the need to re-think river policy in that region in light of recent flooding, and an editorial about The Great Holiday Week Flood from the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.

The AP reports on land subsidence in the Central Valley due to groundwater pumping that is costing California billions of dollars.

The Washington Post reports on the impact hardening shorelines on wildlife habitat and ecological productivity in Chesapeake Bay. Grist reports on the shift in the Pacific Decadal Oscillation and the likelihood that the planet has entered a period more rapid heating than in the previous 20 years.

Climate Change News reports on the major impact the California drought is having on the state's forests. Using remote sensing techniques Stanford researchers have documented a loss of water content in the canopy of California forests that is “extremely threatening” to their long term health. In addition, the same article reports on the results of analysis by University of Delaware scientists that suggest under business-as-usual carbon emissions, 72% of the evergreen forests of the Southwest will be dead by 2050, with nearly 100% mortality by 2100. And the US Forest Service has announced (reports by Ecowatch here) that 2015 was the most severe fire season on record (as USFS had previously predicted), with over 10 million acres burned (approximately the combined acreage of Connecticut and Massachusetts). Half of this acreage burned was in Alaska, and the past season also saw the Olympic rainforest burn in the Paradise fire (Washington Post report here). The Vancouver Sun reports on the record fire year in Canada.

Robert Brulle of Drexel University has published an op-ed that does a great job summarizing the misinformation campaign about climate change that has been waged over the last 30 years. Brulle suggests that the coordinated efforts by conservative foundations and fossil fuel corporations to mislead the public has not only delayed action in an unethical manner, but undermined the functioning of our democracy. This piece in the Washington Post explores evolving Republican attitudes towards climate action.

Bloomberg reports that Arch Coal, the second largest coal-miner in the US, filed for bankruptcy on January 11, becoming the fourth major coal company to do so in the past year (others are Patriot Coal Corp., Walter Energy Inc. and Alpha Natural Resources Inc). The EIA credits climate policies targeting emissions and low natural gas prices for coal’s decline.