Tagged: Climate Change

An Argo float is deployed in the Southern Ocean. (Credit: Hannes Grobe/AWI)

Experts Agree: Tackle Obstructions to Ocean Observing

A teacher in Boise checks his weather app and packs an umbrella while a Miami businesswoman decides to work from home because the local news announces her usual route to work is flooded. What do these two have in common? The information they rely on for their daily activities depends on observational data from the ocean. Some ocean observations provide real-time results, but others must be continuously collected for years before significant patterns and changes can be detected and analyzed. Due to the vital importance of observing systems to the benefit of our nation’s economy, national security, and scientific enterprise, the National Academy of Science’s Ocean Studies Board ad hoc observations committee held a two-day workshop to hear expert opinions on ocean observation systems as they draft a report prioritizing imperative ocean variables for climate research.

The melting of sea ice in Antarctica has global impacts. (Credit: Wikimedia Commons)

Antarctica: More Than Penguins

Most homebuyers don’t think about Antarctica when buying beachfront property. But maybe they should. The 5.4 million-square-mile Antarctic ice sheet is melting, and scientists estimate that if it disappeared completely, sea level would rise by 200 feet. While no one expects complete melting to happen in the immediate future, competing pressures are increasing the rate of ice melt, whose impacts will be felt in varying ways around the globe – and could even affect that beachfront buy sooner rather than later. In addition to Antarctica’s globally significant role in sea level rise, ocean and atmospheric circulation, and carbon cycling, it has a unique ecosystem that offers myriad opportunities for scientific research. Last week, at a congressional briefing hosted by Columbia University’s Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory (LDEO), scientists discussed the changing Antarctic and research opportunities in light of the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine’s strategic vision for NSF-supported research in Antarctica and the Southern Ocean over the next ten years.

Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation held a hearing on reducing regulatory burdens. (Credit: Kris Krüg/WikiCommons)

Six Years After The Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill

On April 20, 2010, the Gulf of Mexico and the lives and livelihoods of those dependent on it changed after an explosion on the Deepwater Horizon oil rig sent oil gushing from the sea floor for 87 days. Efforts are still being made to understand how the 3.1 million barrels of oil and 1.8 million gallons of chemical dispersant (used to break the oil into smaller droplets) have and will affect life in the Gulf of Mexico – both aquatic and human – and the ecosystem itself. At a congressional briefing sponsored by retiring Representative Sam Farr (CA-20), experts came together to discuss the state of understanding of the effects of the spill and direction for the future.

An aerial view of Norfolk Naval Station, the largest naval base in the world. (Credit: Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Christopher B. Stoltz/Released)

Creating A Game Plan For Resiliency Against Rising Seas

Imagine Naval Station Norfolk, the largest naval base in the world, complete with fourteen piers and eleven aircraft hangars, submerged by seawater. That scenario is not far from reality — Norfolk is located in the Hampton Roads, Virginia area, which has seen the highest rates of sea level rise along the eastern coast of the U.S. Its vulnerable location and vital importance to the nation made the area an ideal pilot project, born out of President Obama’s 2013 executive order for the U.S. to prepare for the impacts of climate change. The two-year Hampton Roads Sea Level Rise Preparedness and Resilience Intergovernmental Pilot Project (IPP) was launched in 2014 and headed by Old Dominion University.

A Goose Point Oyster Co. employee harvests fresh oysters at dawn on the Nisbet family's tidelands in Willapa Bay in 2013. (Credit: Steve Ringman / Seattle Times)

From Bivalves To Blue Crabs: Acidification Brings Challenges To New Marine Life

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.

2015 was the warmest global year on record since 1880. NASA Administrator said "Climate change is the challenge of our generation," but some Congressmen at this hearing felt differently. (Credit: NASA)

Debate On Climate Change Guidelines Heats Up

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 agencies. However, the actions of the federal government can have widespread effects on a host of environmental issues. The National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) of 1969 was signed into law to hold federal agencies accountable for those effects by requiring them to assess the environmental impacts their actions may have before they are carried out and to consider alternative options.

President Trump signs new executive order on public lands protections. (Credit: The White House)

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.

The National Academy of Sciences recommends a new advisory board be established to "root out bad behavior." (Credit: Penn State/Flickr)

Can Congress Issue Subpoenas To Attorneys General? Depends On Who You Ask.

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.

The U.S. Navy base in Norfolk, Virginia, is one of the many U.S. military bases located on the coast. (Credit: Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Ernest R. Scott/Wikipedia)

Military Experts Agree: Consequences Of Climate Change Are Clear

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.

FEMA's Technical Mapping Advisory Council makes recommendations on flood maps. (Credit: Walter Jennings/Wikipedia)

Outdated Flood Maps Fuel Reform

When the 1,000-year-flood event hit south Louisiana last month, an estimated 60,000 structures were damaged, including those both inside and outside of the flood zone. In a hearing last week, Representative John Mica (FL-07) noted that 80 percent of homeowners did not have flood insurance because, based on maps produced by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), they were not in areas that were considered vulnerable to flooding. These floodmaps are in urgent need of updating and were the focus of the Senate Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs Committee hearing to review the recommendations of the Technical Mapping Advisory Council’s (TMAC) 2015 Annual Report for the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP).