In school, most students learn to measure acidity or pH with a litmus test. Unfortunately, monitoring the acidity of the ocean is not as simple as dunking a small piece of paper in liquid and waiting for the color to change, and the impacts of acidity changes to marine life are more complex than a simple change in color. Atmospheric carbon dioxide is absorbed by the ocean, which makes it difficult for marine calcifiers (a group comprised of many different organisms, such as molluscs, crustaceans, and corals) to make their own shells and skeletons. Ocean acidification doesn’t just harm these creatures. It threatens our nation’s economic stability, from our $7.3 billion seafood industry to our $101.1 billion recreation and tourism sector. But it doesn’t stop there – it also affects our homeland security. Ocean acidification increases risk to coastal communities by altering the near shore ecosystems that provide shoreline protection, such as coral reefs and aquatic vegetation. Between direct economic effects and decreased protection for our shores, ocean acidification threatens the $26.8 trillion contribution of coastal areas to the global economy and the 164 million Americans living in coastal watershed counties. Why is the chemistry of seawater changing? Increasing amounts of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere are being absorbed by the ocean. COL, in conjunction with Representatives Sam Farr (CA-20) and Suzanne Bonamici (OR-1) hosted a briefing of ocean experts speaking about these changes generated by ocean acidification and the associated impacts on both marine and human life, including effects on the economy and homeland security.
For residents of Maryland and Virginia, the Chesapeake Bay is a hallmark of family vacations, weekend getaways, adventures in crabbing or clamming, or even part of their backyard. The bay is the largest estuary in the U.S., with a watershed spanning over 64,000 miles into which 150 rivers and streams flow. In the expanse of the bay’s watershed, agriculture reigns dominant with over 80,000 farms bringing in billions of dollars in sales every year. However, the agriculture industry can have a profound impact on the estuary by releasing runoff, sediments, and nutrients into water. When waters become overloaded with nutrients such as nitrogen and phosphorous, harmful algal blooms can occur that kill seagrasses, fish, and shellfish. Therefore, science-based conservation, restoration, and rehabilitation have been important practices to improve water quality and overall ecosystem health for numerous aquatic organisms that inhabit the estuary. On September 22, the House Agriculture Subcommittee on Conservation and Forestry held a hearing to review the rehabilitation practices that have been implemented in the Chesapeake Bay watershed in recent years.
Students in Alaska take a field trip to a local salmon stream. An artificial reef is built off the coast of Florida. A duck hunter cleans his gear in Wisconsin. A lifeguard in Delaware explains rip currents to a family on their beach vacation. Even though these differing coastal activities take place over the entire continental U.S., they all have the National Sea Grant College Program (Sea Grant), in common. Sea Grant is comprised of a network of 33 programs along the nation’s coasts that support “research, education, outreach, and extension activities that provide communities with the tools to increase their resiliency capacities.” Sea Grant and the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation held a briefing on the necessity of economic resiliency in coastal communities in the U.S. and featured three speakers who attested to the importance of resiliency and of Sea Grant’s support.
When you hear the words ‘climate change,’ images of the proverbial greenhouse, global thermometer, or clouds of air pollution may come to mind, but they may not be accompanied by thoughts of various federal...
“Merit review is the lifeblood of NSF. It is how we identify the best science to fund. It is the core of promoting the progress of science and the reason taxpayers give the NSF and the research community so much independence,” said John Anderson, Chair of the National Science Board’s Committee on Audit and Oversight.
Launching New Public-Private Partnership And Announcing Joint Declaration On Leveraging Open Data For Climate Resilience
Even as the United States and the international community act to curb the carbon pollution that is driving climate change, citizens and communities need to prepare for the current and future impacts of a changing climate and work with partners around the world to do the same. That is why, over the last seven and a half years, the Obama Administration has worked to advance the development and provision of data, information, tools, and technical assistance to support climate preparedness and resilience efforts both domestically and internationally.
Today, to continue these efforts, the Administration is launching the Partnership for Resilience and Preparedness (PREP), a public-private collaboration among Federal agencies, non-governmental organizations, private-sector companies, and civil-society organizations. The partnership will identify priority-information needs, reduce barriers to data access and usability, and develop an open-source platform to enable sharing and learning on the availability and use of data and information for climate resilience. PREP emerged out of the work of the Climate Data Initiative (CDI), when a diverse group of organizations and private companies working with the CDI data decided to focus on the power of collaboration to address gaps they saw in the CDI and enhance access to climate data and information worldwide. It is being pursued in coordination with the Global Partnership for Sustainable Development Data that was launched last year.
To further strengthen global collaboration to enhance access to actionable information for climate resilience, the Administration, along with 13 other nations and organizations from the private sector and civil society, is releasing today a Joint Declaration on Harnessing the Data Revolution for Climate Resilience. The Joint Declaration is being released by the governments of Bangladesh, Belgium, Canada, Colombia, Germany, Ireland, Japan, Kenya, the Marshall Islands, Mexico, Peru, the Republic of Korea, the United Kingdom, and the United States, as well as by Amazon Web Services, IBM, Economic Commission for Latin America and Caribbean, Future Earth, the Group on Earth Observations, Google, Microsoft, World Bank, and World Resources Institute. The Joint Declaration calls for concrete actions in order to increase international climate resilience through improving accessibility and usability of data.
In 2015, the New York and Massachusetts attorneys general and nine non-profit organizations subpoenaed ExxonMobil for their documents and data about climate change. They were acting on evidence from a report by the Union for Concerned Scientists (UCS) showing that ExxonMobil scientists studied and knew about the negative effects of greenhouse gases since the 1970s. Despite this knowledge, the report showed that the public was provided with disinformation to protect the financial interests of the large oil and gas company. Those subpoenas weren’t the last ones issued in this saga – Chairman of the House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology Lamar Smith (TX-21) and other lawmakers have claimed the attorneys general investigations violated ExxonMobil’s First Amendment rights and have issued subpoenas to the New York and Massachusetts attorneys general and the nine organizations, demanding cooperation and relegation of all documents related to their investigations. The attorneys general and NGOs have not complied, arguing that federal subpoenas are unconstitutional, violate states’ rights, exceed the legal authority of the committee, and are a threat to the NGOs First Amendment rights.
Starving polar bears and bleached coral reefs are often the face of climate change today, but what many people do not realize is that climate change also threatens national security. Members of the U.S. national security community have been studying the impacts of climate change, namely sea level rise, and the associated threats to our military installations and missions. The results of their studies were compiled into three reports that were discussed at this week’s first annual Climate and National Security Forum. The forum consisted of three panels with several authors from each report serving on the respective panels.
On September 14, Representatives Jared Polis (CO-02) and David Jolly (Fl-13) launched the U.S. House of Representatives Earth and Space Science Caucus. A reception celebrating the caucus’ formation was held in conjunction with the American Geophysical Union (AGU) and was sponsored by the Earth and Space Science Caucus Alliance.
We could not live without the simple chemical compound H2O. Known as water in layman’s terms, it is a vital part of our bodies, our food, our lives, and our planet. But there are serious, catastrophic problems when water inundates communities as a flood event or disappears during drought conditions. These issues, in addition to increasing resource demand, create challenges for water managers. Water resource experts met this week at a University Corporation for Atmospheric Research (UCAR) congressional briefing, sponsored by Senator Richard Shelby (AL-7), to discuss the collaboration between government agencies, industry, and academia on the management and development of our nation’s vital water resources. This collaboration is no small feat – Mr. Edward Clark (Director, Geo-Intelligence Division, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)) told the audience there are 26 different federal agencies that work on water prediction, science, and data services.