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  • richardmitnick 7:59 pm on May 18, 2018 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Climate Change, , NASA GFZ GRACE-FO mission   

    From JPL Caltech: “Just Five Things About GRACE Follow-On” 

    NASA JPL Banner

    From JPL-Caltech

    May 18, 2018
    Alan Buis
    Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, California

    Written by Carol Rasmussen
    NASA’s Earth Science News Team

    NASA German Research Centre for Geosciences (GFZ) Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment Follow-On (GRACE-FO) spacecraft

    Scheduled to launch no earlier than May 22, the twin satellites of the Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment Follow-On (GRACE-FO) mission, a collaboration between NASA and the German Research Centre for Geosciences (GFZ), will continue the work of monitoring changes in the world’s water cycle and surface mass, which was so well performed by the original GRACE mission. There are far more than five things to say about this amazing new-old mission; but here are a few favorite facts.

    1 Percent (or Less)

    GRACE-FO tracks liquid and frozen water by measuring month-to-month changes in Earth’s gravitational pull very precisely. More than 99 percent of our planet’s gravitational pull doesn’t change from one month to the next, because it represents the mass of the solid Earth itself. But a tiny fraction of Earth’s mass is constantly on the move, and it is mostly water: Rain is falling, dew is evaporating, ocean currents are flowing, ice is melting and so on. GRACE-FO’s maps of regional variations in gravity will show us where that small fraction of overall planetary mass is moving every month.

    2 Satellites, One Instrument

    Unlike other Earth-observing satellites, which carry instruments that observe some part of the electromagnetic spectrum, the two GRACE-FO satellites themselves are the instrument. The prime instrument measures the tiny changes in the distance between the pair, which arise from the slightly varying gravitational forces of the changing mass below. Researchers produce monthly maps of water and mass change by combining this information with GPS measurements of exactly where the satellites are and accelerometer measurements of other forces acting upon the spacecraft, such as atmospheric drag.

    3 Gravity Missions, Including One on the Moon

    The same measurement concept used on GRACE and GRACE-FO was also used to map the Moon’s gravity field. NASA’s Gravity Recovery and Interior Laboratory (GRAIL) twins orbited the moon for about a year, allowing insights into science questions such as what Earth’s gravitational pull contributed to the Moon’s lopsided shape. The intentionally short-lived GRAIL satellites were launched in September 2011 and decommissioned in December 2012.

    4 Thousand-Plus Customers Served

    GRACE observations have been used in more than 4,300 research papers to date — a very high number for a single Earth science mission. Most papers have multiple coauthors, meaning the real number of scientist-customers could be higher, but we chose a conservative estimate. As GRACE-FO extends the record of water in motion, there are sure to be more exciting scientific discoveries to come.

    5 Things We Didn’t Know Before GRACE

    Here’s a list-within-a-list of five findings from those 4,300-plus papers. Watch the GRACE-FO website to learn what the new mission is adding to this list.

    •Melting ice sheets and dwindling aquifers are contributing to Earth’s rotational wobbles.

    • A few years of heavy precipitation can cause so much water to be stored on land that global sea level rise slows or even stops briefly.

    •A third of the world’s underground aquifers are being drained faster than they can be replenished.

    • In the Amazon, small fires below the tree canopy may destroy more of the forest than deforestation does — implying that climatic conditions such as drought may be a greater threat to the rainforest than deforestation is.

    • Australia seesaws up and down by two or three millimeters each year because of changes to Earth’s center of mass that are caused by the movement of water.

    Bonus: The Fine Print

    JPL manages the GRACE-FO mission for NASA’s Science Mission Directorate in Washington, under the direction of the Earth Systematic Missions Program Office at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland. The spacecraft were built by Airbus Defence and Space in Friedrichshafen, Germany, under subcontract to JPL. GFZ contracted GRACE-FO launch services from Iridium. GFZ has subcontracted mission operations to the German Aerospace Center (DLR), which operates the German Space Operations Center in Oberpfaffenhofen, Germany.

    See the full article here .

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    NASA JPL Campus

    Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) is a federally funded research and development center and NASA field center located in the San Gabriel Valley area of Los Angeles County, California, United States. Although the facility has a Pasadena postal address, it is actually headquartered in the city of La Cañada Flintridge, on the northwest border of Pasadena. JPL is managed by the nearby California Institute of Technology (Caltech) for the National Aeronautics and Space Administration. The Laboratory’s primary function is the construction and operation of robotic planetary spacecraft, though it also conducts Earth-orbit and astronomy missions. It is also responsible for operating NASA’s Deep Space Network.

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  • richardmitnick 9:41 am on February 8, 2018 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , Climate Change, ,   

    From University of Washington: “University of Washington, other leading research universities form international coalition to speed local climate action” 

    U Washington

    University of Washington

    February 6, 2018
    Michelle Ma

    The University of Washington joins 12 other leading North American research universities in the new University Climate Change Coalition, or UC3, a group committed to leveraging its research and resources to help communities accelerate climate action.

    The coalition, which launched Feb. 6 at the 2018 Second Nature Higher Education Climate Leadership Summit in Tempe, Arizona, includes universities from the U.S., Canada and Mexico that have committed to mobilize their resources and expertise to accelerate local and regional climate action in partnership with businesses, cities and states.

    Researchers working at the UW Clean Energy Institute’s Washington Clean Energy Testbeds.Matt Hagen/Clean Energy Institute/University of Washington.

    For more than a decade, member schools have pursued carbon neutrality in campus operations. The schools are also creating new climate solutions through innovative research and are preparing students to solve the urgent climate challenges of the 21st century.

    “Climate change isn’t a future problem — it is affecting people’s health and well-being right now. Universities have the capability to not only help understand the effects of climate change, but to also develop the technologies and policies to reduce carbon emissions. The University of Washington is proud to be part of the University Climate Change Coalition and to renew our commitment to protecting the health of our planet,” said UW President Ana Mari Cauce.

    At an operational level, the UW is working to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 15 percent below 2005 levels by 2020, and 36 percent below 2005 levels by 2035, in accordance with laws passed by the Washington state Legislature in 2009. The university also is working to achieve carbon neutrality by 2050, as technology developments allow.

    Researcher David Shean uses UW’s terrestrial laser scanner to measure surface elevation at the South Cascade Glacier.Alex Headman/USGS

    The UW is also a leader in climate and clean energy research. The Clean Energy Institute supports the advancement of next-generation solar energy and battery materials and devices, as well as their integration with systems and the grid.

    At the College of the Environment, organizations such as the Climate Impacts Group and EarthLab are tackling climate resiliency and our most pressing climate challenges through continued research, analysis and community partnerships. Hundreds of UW students, faculty and staff conduct research and projects on all seven continents and all five oceans, focusing on critical issues such as ocean acidification, freshwater resources, natural hazards and the disappearance of ice in polar regions.

    “UW scientists are leaders in groundbreaking, collaborative research to advance climate science, understand impacts and build pathways to solutions. We’re excited by the new partnerships and opportunities that the University Climate Change Coalition offers. Working together will strengthen our ability to sustain the health and wellbeing of our communities and our planet,” said UW College of the Environment Dean and Mary Laird Wood Professor Lisa Graumlich.

    In addition to the UW, other coalition members are Arizona State University, California Institute of Technology, Instituto Tecnológico y de Estudios Superiores de Monterrey, La Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México, Ohio State University, the State University of New York, University of British Columbia, University of California, University of Colorado, Boulder, University of Maryland, College Park, University of New Mexico, and University of Toronto.

    Every UC3 institution will convene a climate change forum in 2018 to bring together community and business leaders, elected officials and other local stakeholders. Meetings will be tailored to meet local and regional objectives shared across sectors and will aim to speed the implementation of research-driven climate policies and solutions.

    A coalition-wide report, to be released in late 2018, will synthesize the best practices, policies and recommendations from all UC3 forums into a framework for continued progress on climate change goals across the nation and the world.

    In 2016, the U.S.-based members of the UC3 coalition together performed about one-quarter of the environmental science research conducted by all U.S. institutions, according to data collected by the National Science Foundation. From 2012 to 2017, researchers at UC3 member institutions were responsible for 48,518 publications on climate science-related topics, including environmental science, agricultural and biological sciences, energy, engineering, earth and planetary sciences and more.

    See the full article here .

    See The University of California article here.

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    The University of Washington is one of the world’s preeminent public universities. Our impact on individuals, on our region, and on the world is profound — whether we are launching young people into a boundless future or confronting the grand challenges of our time through undaunted research and scholarship. Ranked number 10 in the world in Shanghai Jiao Tong University rankings and educating more than 54,000 students annually, our students and faculty work together to turn ideas into impact and in the process transform lives and our world. For more about our impact on the world, every day.
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  • richardmitnick 3:03 pm on January 4, 2018 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , Climate Change, Climate Change Will Displace Millions of People. Where Will They Go?, ,   

    From Columbia: “Climate Change Will Displace Millions of People. Where Will They Go?” 

    Columbia U bloc

    Columbia University

    January 4, 2018
    Tiffany Challe

    Islands like Barbuda may seem like paradise now, but they face many challenges from climate change in the future. Photo: Tiffany Challe

    Barbuda, the sister island of Antigua, is a small, low-lying Caribbean island. Most of its 1,700 residents lived in Codrington, the central location for stores and schools. The town is also the location for the Barbuda Research Complex, where I attended sustainability field school in 2013.

    What makes this island so unique? The beauty of the natural beaches untouched by tourism developments, the rich vegetation, diverse wildlife, fascinating archaeological sites and the people of Barbuda. During my three-week stay there, it became clear to me that Barbudans were a proud, happy and resilient people. Their community identity is heavily steeped in their food culture, which forges their intricate relationship with the environment. This entry in my field journal captures their spirit: “I admire how Barbudans respect and use all their resources on the island and understand their environment.” Their livelihoods and culture center on fishing, hunting and farming. However, climate change has altered the island’s food system and therefore their livelihoods. Droughts and rising seas that encroach on freshwater supplies are causing crop yields to decline, and Barbudans must increasingly rely on expensive imported foods.

    Hurricane Irma hit Barbuda in September and decimated most of the island – 95 percent of the buildings and infrastructure were destroyed. One person died and countless animals were killed by debris or separated from their owners. For the first time in 300 years, the island was rendered uninhabitable. All the residents were evacuated and temporarily relocated to Antigua, where they still remain today. Barbudans are eager to return to the island, as they have a strong sense of place-based identity. Rebuilding efforts are currently under way, though funds are sorely lacking and a bitter dispute over land rights has ensued. This story illustrates tragedy for the islanders, who are at the front lines of climate change.

    This Somalian family left their village after a drought killed most of their livestock. Climate change could make droughts like these more common and more severe, causing many to flee their homes. Photo: Oxfam East Africa, Flickr

    And they’re not the only ones. This year, hurricane season hit U.S. coastal communities and islands in the Caribbean at an alarming scale, causing massive infrastructure damage and loss of life. Meanwhile, wildfires are wreaking havoc in Southern California. These natural disasters are influenced by a warming climate. As the sea level rises and average temperatures continue to increase, these disasters will become more frequent and intense. Climate change is expected to displace millions of people in the coming decades, and countries will increasingly have to grapple with this issue.

    When disaster strikes, what happens to the communities in harm’s way? Where do the displaced people stay? Will they be able to return to their homes in areas that climate change may have rendered unlivable? Experts from Columbia University discussed these challenges and more at a recent event hosted by the Earth Institute.

    Climate scientist Radley Horton from the Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory moderated the panel. The speakers included: Lisa Dale, a lecturer in the undergraduate program in Sustainable Development; Alex de Sherbinin, a geographer at the Center for International Earth Science Information Network; and Michael Gerrard, director of the Sabin Center for Climate Change Law at Columbia Law School. The event was part of the Earth Institute’s Climate Adaptation Initiative—a three-year project to enhance Columbia’s impact on sustainability problem-solving. One of the themes of this initiative is climate-induced retreat to safer areas.

    Where Will Climate Migrants Go?

    Some experts estimate that climate change could force between 150 and 300 million people to find a new place to live by the middle of this century, though there is considerable uncertainty about the amount. Finding suitable locations to house them will be a significant impediment. As Michael Gerrard explained, “part of the problem is scale. If we’re talking about millions of people having to be on the move, it just doesn’t work.”

    In the U.S., there are very few habitable places that aren’t already occupied by homes, businesses, or agriculture, or preserved as park lands or forests. Meanwhile, rural areas would provide few opportunities for migrants to find employment and rebuild their lives.

    Instead, Gerrard suggested moving people from high-risk areas to cities whose populations are shrinking, such as Detroit, Michigan. He sees cities’ potential for vertical development, energy-efficient buildings, and public transportation as a way to sustainably host climate migrants.

    The 1951 Refugee Convention defines a protected refugee as someone who leaves his or her home country due to racial, religious, or social persecution, or reasonable fear of such persecution. These refugees have the right to seek asylum and protection from participating members of the United Nations (though these countries are not obligated to take them in). However, people displaced by climate change do not fit this definition. At the international level, there is no legal mechanism in place to protect climate migrants’ rights and to ensure assistance from other countries. In terms of cross-border migration, Gerrard said, “there is no international law that compels a country to take in people from other countries; it’s wholly voluntary.”

    When Should Climate Migration Happen?

    Once a major disaster strikes with little or no warning, victims can become ‘distressed’ migrants—people who have lost their homes and are forced to flee with nothing but the shirts on their backs.

    A better scenario would be to resettle people outside of at-risk areas before disaster strikes. That way, people would have some degree of choice in where to go and what to bring.

    However, Alex de Sherbinin pointed out that the U.S. government has no policy mechanism designed to relocate people before a disaster strikes.

    Not only does relocating people cost money, but governments miss out on tax revenues if land is left empty. “This is why there is an impetus to build up and grow in vulnerable coastal zones,” said de Sherbinin.

    But it’s not impossible to be proactive about climate migration. China has ‘ecological migration,’ a relocation program designed to anticipate future disasters. The government has resettled large communities from rural areas damaged by climate change, industrialization, and other problems. The program is partly an effort to reduce dust storms produced by agriculture. It works out economically because it was no longer financially tenable for the Chinese government to support these communities in rural areas.

    Where Would the Money Come From?

    Michael Gerrard views carbon pricing as an ideal solution to funding climate relocation. Displacement by sea level rise, hurricanes, and wildfires is, as he put it, “a negative externality of burning fossil fuels, so if you were to build that into the price and pay for some of this through a price on carbon, you would generate a whole lot of money that way.” In this scenario, the money paid by carbon emitters could help fund climate relocation while creating a major economic incentive to move away from fossil fuels.

    The panelists agreed that countries also need to be forward-looking. In order to avoid the US’ reactive disaster planning, we must plan ahead for future damage and associated costs from natural disasters when thinking about how to manage the retreat from at-risk areas.

    Unfortunately, U.S. disaster response is typically reactive instead of proactive. Lisa Dale explained how, much like flood planning, the federal fire budget is backward-looking. “The U.S. Forest Service’s annual budget is based on the last 10 years of fire costs,” she said, “so they are always estimating too low.” Meanwhile, the cost of suppressing fire has grown substantially, she added.

    A more progressive approach would lead to better management of funds to add protective measures against climate-related catastrophes, build resilience, and in extreme cases relocate at-risk communities.

    With a lack of finance, policy, and legal frameworks, managed retreat will be a huge challenge in the United States. So it is no wonder that developing nations are not receiving the financial and technical assistance they so desperately need to recover from disasters and to rebuild in a climate-resilient way. Gerrard pointed out that the U.S. is “one of the richest places on the planet and we’re struggling to come up with resources to fund it.”

    Changing Climate, Changing Cultures

    For climate relocation to work, governments need to care and commit to international responsibility and burden-sharing. However, in the current global political context of fear of terrorism, an increased refugee influx into Europe, and an overall rise of xenophobia, countries are more likely to opt for stricter policies on cross-border migration. Rex Tillerson announced on December 3 that the U.S. is pulling out of the Global Compact for Migration, arguing (falsely, in Gerrard’s view) that it was a threat to U.S. sovereignty.

    “There is such an anti-immigrant fervor that it’s hard to imagine the U.S. in the short-term taking in large numbers of people,” Gerrard said.

    According to Alex de Sherbinin, framing migration as a useful adaptation (and life- and cost-saving strategy), rather than a retreat, can encourage governments to take actions to support migration.

    On the other hand, there is a human cost to any kind of permanent relocation: The threat of losing one’s cultural heritage, particularly in native communities on coastal areas and islands such as Barbuda. Many islanders have a deep attachment to their homeland, which is inextricably linked to their culture and traditions.

    Gaston Browne, the prime minister of Antigua and Barbuda, is pushing for tourism development and land ownership to regenerate Barbuda’s economy and reduce the island’s reliance on Antigua. The Barbuda Land Act of 2007 formally recognized that citizens communally own Barbuda’s land—a practice dating back hundreds of years—and must consent to major developments. In its place, Browne proposes to institute a system in which Barbudans can buy their plots for $1, opening up the possibility of securing bank loans for reconstruction. Many people and representatives in the Barbuda Council are opposed to this new system, as it would threaten their culture and would potentially open up their island to foreign investment and development.

    As Alex de Sherbinin noted, “rebuilding homes is one thing, but also rebuilding communities and allowing the tissue of community to reform requires funds to facilitate.”

    There is a lot of work ahead of us to solve the climate migration issue, and as Michael Gerrard pointed out, “it’s really a question of trying to find sufficient humanity.”

    A video of the event, Climate Change Impacts: Relocation to Safer Ground, can be found here [1 hour lecture].

    See the full article here .

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    Columbia University was founded in 1754 as King’s College by royal charter of King George II of England. It is the oldest institution of higher learning in the state of New York and the fifth oldest in the United States.

  • richardmitnick 11:25 am on December 13, 2017 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , Climate Change, , ,   

    From Rutgers University: “Sea-Level Rise Projections Made Hazy by Antarctic Instability” 

    Rutgers University
    Rutgers University

    December 12, 2017
    Todd B. Bates

    Scientists should have a much better understanding in a few decades [too long to be helpful] how high the sea level could rise, Rutgers-led study says.

    Ice loss from the Thwaites Glacier in the Amundsen Sea Embayment, West Antarctica, has doubled since the 1990s. The glacier appears to be collapsing due to marine ice-sheet instability. Photo: NASA.

    The calving face of Helheim Glacier, southeastern Greenland, has lost its protective ice shelf and is vulnerable to marine ice-cliff instability. Photo: Professor Knut Christianson/University of Washington.

    It may take until the 2060s to know how much the sea level will rise by the end of this century, according to a new Rutgers University–New Brunswick-led analysis. The study is the first to link global and local sea-level rise projections with simulations of two major mechanisms by which climate change can affect the vast Antarctic ice sheet.

    Earth faces a broad range of possible outcomes with climate change. At the less severe end, 2 feet of global-average sea-level rise by 2100 would submerge land that’s currently home to about 100 million people. Toward the high end, 6 feet of rise would swamp the current homes of more than 150 million. Either scenario would have drastic impacts in New Jersey and other coastal states.

    But the study, published today in Earth’s Future, finds that scientists won’t be able to determine, based on measurements of large-scale phenomena like global sea level and Antarctic mass changes, which scenario the planet faces until the 2060s. So coastal communities should have flexible contingency plans for a broad range of outcomes by 2100 and beyond, the study concludes.

    “There’s a lot of ambiguity in post-2050 projections of sea-level rise and we may have to live with that for a while,” said Robert E. Kopp, the study’s lead author and a professor in the Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences at Rutgers. “We could end up with 8 feet of sea-level rise in 2100, but we’re not likely to have clear evidence for that by 2050.”

    The world can make lower sea-level rise outcomes much more likely by meeting the 2015 Paris Agreement goal of bringing net greenhouse gas emissions to zero in the second half of this century, the study shows. Scientists may also become able to distinguish between different scenarios sooner by studying the physics of local ice-sheet changes and refining reconstructions of changes during warm periods in geological history.

    Sea-level rise poses a potentially existential risk to Earth’s low-lying cities and coastal areas, so any projected increase needs to be taken seriously by planners, environmental officials, property owners and others, said Kopp, director of Rutgers’ Institute of Earth, Ocean, and Atmospheric Sciences. In addition to permanently submerging coastal land, sea-level rise will make the flood damage from hurricanes and nor’easters worse in the future, he said.

    “You should plan for 2050, while also considering what options to follow under more extreme scenarios after 2050,” said Kopp, who also co-directs Rutgers’ Coastal Climate Risk & Resilience (C2R2) initiative.

    This study combines a well-established sea-level rise projection framework with an Antarctic ice sheet model that simulates two pathways that can lead to ice-sheet instability. The first of these pathways, marine ice sheet instability, has been studied for decades, but the second, marine ice cliff instability, has only recently been considered as an important contributor to future sea-level change.

    Might a process called “hydrofracturing,” implicated in the 2002 breakup of the Larsen B ice shelf on the Antarctic Peninsula, leave broad swaths of the Antarctic coast with 300-foot tall cliffs of ice exposed to the open ocean and subject to collapse under their own weight? If so, the interaction between hydrofracturing and ice-cliff collapse could drive global sea level much higher than projected in the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC)’s 2013 assessment report and in a 2014 study led by Kopp [Earth’s Future].

    “The widespread loss of Antarctic ice shelves, driven by a warming ocean or warming atmosphere, could spell disaster for our coastlines – and there is sound geological evidence that supports what the models are telling us,” said Robert M. DeConto of the University of Massachusetts Amherst, a co-author of the study and one of the developers of the ice-sheet model used.

    “We’re making progress, but we still don’t know exactly when these processes might kick in, and how fast sea level might rise if they do. The ice shelves are the key. They hold back the flow of Antarctic ice toward the ocean, so we don’t want to lose them. The problem is, they don’t last very long when they are sitting in warm water or if they are covered with summer meltwater, so keeping global temperatures in check is critical,” DeConto added.

    “Our previous study, like the IPCC, found that global sea-level rise in a high-emissions future would likely be between 2 and 3.5 feet by 2100. Linking in the physical model with marine ice-cliff instability raises that range to 4 to 7 feet,” Kopp said. “By contrast, marine ice-cliff instability doesn’t have much effect if we meet the Paris Agreement emissions goal. That keeps the likely global rise to about 1 to 3 feet.”

    “If we end up in a world with 2 or 2.5 meters (6.6 to 8 feet) of global sea level rise in 2100, that’s a lot to adapt to,” Kopp added. “That necessitates taking a flexible approach, where possible: building for the half foot to 1.3 feet of sea-level rise that are likely by 2050, while plotting out options that will depend on what we learn in the next few decades and how sea level rises beyond that.”

    Kopp is also a co-author of another study, led by Tufts University researcher Klaus Bittermann and published today in Environmental Research Letters, assessing the sea-level rise benefits of achieving the Paris Agreement’s more ambitious 1.5 degrees Celsius (2.7 degrees Fahrenheit) temperature target rather than its headline 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit) target. That study found that a 1.5 degrees Celsius world would reach a peak rate of sea-level rise about 0.7 inches per decade less than in a 2 degrees Celsius world – a potentially life-saving reduction for some vulnerable coastal ecosystems.

    Kopp, who is a director of the Climate Impact Lab, a multi-institutional collaboration advancing the state of the art in assessing the economic risks of climate change, has authored a Climate Impact Lab Insights post with a more detailed explanation of the Earth’s Future study.

    Climate Central’s new website Surging Seas: Stakes Rising provides interactive global maps of flooding associated with the study’s local sea-level rise projections under different emissions scenarios.

    See the full article here .

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  • richardmitnick 3:45 pm on December 7, 2017 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , C3E 2017 Clean Energy Symposium, , Climate Change, ,   

    From MIT: “A bipartisan message of clean energy progress” 

    MIT News
    MIT Widget

    MIT News

    December 7, 2017
    Francesca McCaffrey

    MIT Vice President for Research Maria Zuber and former U.S. Secretary of Energy Ernest Moniz, the Cecil and Ida Green Professor of Physics and Engineering Systems emeritus at MIT, engaged in a fireside chat at the C3E Women in Clean Energy Symposium, discussing technology, policy, and the importance of women’s leadership in STEM fields. Photo: Justin Knight

    In the face of global challenges, leading women in energy and climate convene at the C3E 2017 Clean Energy Symposium.

    The diverse group of energy leaders who spoke at the 2017 Clean Energy, Education, and Empowerment (C3E) Women in Clean Energy Symposium hailed from different professional, personal, and political backgrounds, bringing many viewpoints on the conference’s theme of transforming energy infrastructure — nationally and internationally — for a transition to a low-carbon future. Though opinions on the best strategies to bring about this transition differed, all agreed on the urgency of deploying strategies and technologies to achieve it.

    “It’s inspiring to be surrounded by so many women at different stages of their careers, approaching clean energy issues from a wide range of perspectives and professions,” MIT Energy Initiative (MITEI) executive director Martha Broad told the audience, which included industry professionals, government officials, and academic researchers, as well as students who were giving poster presentations.


    “MITEI is thrilled to host this event, celebrate our awardees, and hear from thought leaders in this space.” Broad is also a U.S. C3E ambassador — part of a cohort of senior leaders in business, government, and academia who serve as role models and advocates for women in clean energy.

    Now in its sixth year being held at MIT, the C3E Symposium brings women at all stages of their careers together to discuss solutions to the most pressing energy issues of the day and to celebrate awardees from various disciplines. Founded under the auspices of the 25-government Clean Energy Ministerial, the U.S. C3E Initiative aims to advance clean energy by helping to close the gender gap and enabling the full participation of women in the clean energy sector. MITEI and the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) have collaborated on the symposium since 2012, and the Stanford Precourt Institute for Energy joined the collaboration in 2016.

    Inclusive clean energy solutions for the future

    Panels throughout the two-day conference focused on strategies across the technology, policy, and business spheres to address energy challenges both local and global. Nevada State Senator Pat Spearman stressed the importance of forward-looking governance on a panel about innovative policies. For Spearman, innovation means taking advantage of Nevada’s natural energy resources, from an abundance of solar energy in the south to the potential for geothermal in the north. It also means developing progressive policies that facilitate timely regulatory changes in response to new and emerging technologies.

    Spearman is particularly determined to account for low-income constituents with provisions in energy policy measures.

    “We need to always include the fact that those who are on the lower spectrum of the income level are usually the ones who are the least likely to adopt because the price has not come down far enough,” she said. ”So those who can afford it do, and those who can’t, don’t. For me, it’s a matter of environmental and economic justice.”

    On a panel about the future of the electric grid, Marcy Reed, National Grid’s chief of business operations, expanded on the importance of being mindful of customers’ needs.

    “We have 20th-century infrastructure operating in a world with 21st-century demands,” she said, adding that at Massachusetts-based National Grid, and her colleagues take their cue on how to best affect change from their customers. “They’re savvy and passionate and environmentally-minded. They also want their energy delivery system to be modern and responsive to their needs.” She added that having the right tools and information enables customers to make energy-efficient choices.

    Ugwem Eneyo, a Stanford University graduate and co-founder of Solstice Energy Solutions, explained how data are similarly important to her customers in sub-Saharan Africa.

    “With the development and integration of solar and storage into the energy mix, data and connectivity will play a significant role in enabling future distributed energy grids, and will also play a significant role in driving efficiency and productivity of these distributed energy assets,” Eneyo said. Her company’s technology uses a data-driven approach to intelligently manage distributed energy, helping consumers plan for their own cost- and energy-efficient power use.

    As a panelist for a session on international energy infrastructure developments, Radhika Khosla discussed ongoing changes in India’s energy system.

    “Not only is India a very large emitter, but it is also one of the most vulnerable countries to climate change,” said Khosla, who is a visiting scientist at the MIT Tata Center for Technology and Design. Citing rising temperatures, impending infrastructure and demographic transitions, and increased air pollution as a few among several factors, Khosla added, “What happens to India in terms of its growth trajectory matters not only in the global context, but also in the Indian context.”

    Leveraging women’s expertise for the clean energy transition

    Underscoring the bipartisan message of the importance of women’s involvement in the clean energy transition, U.S. Secretary of Energy Rick Perry gave a video keynote address in which he noted the positive effect that gatherings like the C3E Symposium can have in trying to address current energy challenges.

    “Each of you here today helps advance innovation, connect new ideas with existing markets, and use technology to promote clean energy solutions,” Perry said. “But even more importantly, your work will inspire the next generation of women leaders in STEM, and that is sorely needed.”

    Secretary Perry’s predecessor under President Obama, Ernest Moniz, engaged in a fireside chat with MIT Vice President for Research Maria T. Zuber, the E. A. Griswold Professor of Geophysics. Zuber and Moniz, who is the Cecil and Ida Green Professor of Physics and Engineering Systems Emeritus and special advisor to the MIT president, discussed the need for a rapid transition to a low-carbon economy and also highlighted the significance of initiatives like C3E in the mission to support and increase women’s involvement in STEM fields.

    “If you can see it, you can be it”

    Every year, C3E honors mid-career women who have made particular contributions to their area of energy and invites previous awardees to attend the conference. This year’s award-winners were: Anna Bautista, vice president of construction and workforce development for Grid Alternatives (Advocacy Award); Leslie Marshall, corporate energy engineering lead for General Mills (Business Award); Nicole Lautze, associate faculty member at the University of Hawaii Manoa and founder of the Hawaii Groundwater and Geothermal Resources Center (Education Award); Emily Kirsch, founder and CEO of intelligent energy incubator Powerhouse (Entrepreneurship Award); Chris LaFleur, program lead for Hydrogen Safety, Codes, and Standards at Sandia National Laboratories (Government Award); Allison Archambault, president of EarthSpark International (International Award); Sarah Valdovinos, co-founder of Walden Green Energy (Law and Finance Award); and Inês M.L. Azevedo, principal investigator and co-director for the Climate and Energy Decision-Making Center at Carnegie Mellon University (Research Award).

    Senators Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) and Maria Cantwell (D-Washington) were co-recipients of the C3E Lifetime Achievement award for their work on energy issues, including their leadership roles on the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee and their stewardship of the bipartisan Energy and Natural Resources Act of 2017.

    In her prerecorded remarks, Murkowski said “We all recognize [that] women bring a different perspective to problem-solving, so it’s imperative, whether in your fields or mine, if we want to find the best and most innovative solutions to our biggest challenges, the female perspective must be present and active at the decision table.”

    Cantwell, in written remarks delivered by C3E Ambassador Melanie Kenderdine, said, “I am proud to work alongside you as we continue to celebrate the women who are making incredible achievements in clean energy.”

    Carol Battershell, principal deputy director of the DOE’s Office of Energy Policy and Systems Analysis and a U.S. C3E ambassador, noted how meaningful it was for the C3E ambassadors to have the honor of choosing the awardees. Several other speakers also remarked on how it felt to be in the presence of a group of such impactful leaders and diverse practitioners in the clean energy sector.

    Sherina Maye Edwards, energy commissioner for the Illinois Commerce Commission, prefaced her comments by saying, “So often, I am on the road talking to rooms full of people who look nothing like me. It is so nice to see not just such a fantastic group of women, but also such a diverse group of women.”

    Awardee Emily Kirsch, who attended the first C3E conference in 2013, met many C3E ambassadors there who mentored and encouraged her while she was launching her company. Accepting the Entrepreneurship Award, Kirsch said, “C3E is a testament to the idea that if you can see it, you can be it.”

    See the full article here .

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    The mission of MIT is to advance knowledge and educate students in science, technology, and other areas of scholarship that will best serve the nation and the world in the twenty-first century. We seek to develop in each member of the MIT community the ability and passion to work wisely, creatively, and effectively for the betterment of humankind.

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  • richardmitnick 9:53 am on December 6, 2017 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Acoustic Doppler Current Profiler, , At least half of sea level rise from Greenland is from melting ice, Climate Change, , Extreme fieldwork drones and climate modeling yield new insights about Greenland’s melting ice sheet, ,   

    From UCLA Newsroom: “Extreme fieldwork, drones, climate modeling yield new insights about Greenland’s melting ice sheet” 

    UCLA Newsroom

    December 05, 2017
    Jessica Wolf

    A UCLA-led team was the first to measure Greenland’s melting glaciers from the top of the ice sheet. Their discoveries could help scientists better predict sea level rise. Matthew Cooper

    A new UCLA-led study reinforces the importance of collaboration in assessing the effects of climate change.

    The research, published today in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, offers new insights about previously unknown factors affecting Greenland’s melting ice sheet, and it could ultimately help scientists more accurately predict how the phenomenon could cause sea levels to rise.

    Greenland is the single largest melting ice sheet in terms of meltwater runoff contributing to rising sea levels — and at least half of sea level rise from Greenland is from melting ice, said Laurence C. Smith, a UCLA professor of geography. (That’s even more than the amount caused by ice calving, when large blocks of ice separate from the ice sheet, forming icebergs, which eventually melt into the sea.)

    Since 2012, a team led by Smith has visited Greenland’s ice sheet several times, using satellites, drones and sophisticated sensors to track flow rates of meltwater rivers atop the glaciers, and to map their watersheds, which include the surface areas between the rivers.

    In 2015, Smith and a group of UCLA graduate students and collaborators focused on a 27-square-mile watershed, and they discovered an important process that had previously been left out of climate-model calculations. Some of the meltwater from the lakes and rivers atop the region’s glaciers, which end in large sinkholes called “moulins” and barrel down through the glacier, is being stored and trapped on top of the glacier inside a low-density, porous “rotten ice.”

    “Ours is the first independent data-gathering effort to directly measure rates of meltwater runoff from the top of the ice,” Smith said. The team’s research was funded by NASA. “Researchers, including us, have attempted gather information using flows from the edge of the ice, but those measurements are problematic for testing climate models.”

    Smith’s team found a discrepancy between its data and the calculations of meltwater runoff from five climate models. Those models’ estimates were 21 to 58 percent higher than what Smith’s team measured on the ice.

    So Smith invited the scientists who created those models to collaborate with him. Together, they checked real-time statistics from weather stations on the ice to confirm that the data in the climate models were correct — and they found the models’ calculations were accurate. Which meant that the meltwater’s journey over the ice surface was more complex than previously imagined: The scientists recognized that before the water passes through the ice via moulins, it can pool, sit indefinitely or refreeze in porous ice at the surface, Smith said.

    “After eliminating all other possibilities, we deduced that the disagreement in our data is because of sunlight penetrating into the ice, causing subsurface melting and meltwater storage,” said Dirk van As, a co-author of the study and a senior researcher at the Geological Survey of Denmark and Greenland. “And now we know this is happening in the higher reaches of the bare ice zone that cover large regions of the ice sheet.

    “We now know that calculation of meltwater retention in porous ice should be included somehow,” he said.

    To measure river discharge on the ice, Smith and his team adapted a technique normally used on land. Working in shifts, they collected data hourly, around the clock, for three days in July 2015, braving the cold, wind and 20 hours a day of blazing sunshine. The researchers used safety gear to anchor themselves to the ice and protect themselves from the swift-moving water flowing into dangerous moulins, where surface water plummets into the ice sheet interior.

    Among the many logistical challenges was determining how to set up equipment to measure river flow in a way that researchers didn’t need to be positioned on both sides of a river.

    “Unless you have a helicopter, you can’t station people on both sides of a large river on top of the ice,” said Lincoln Pitcher, a UCLA doctoral student in geography, who figured out a way to keep sensors in place after trial and error on land and ice. They needed to come up with a stable and strong system that would stay in place even though the ice surface around them was melting.

    Study co-author, Asa Rennermalm, professor of geography at Rutgers University-New Brunswick was part of the field team.

    “We used a device called an Acoustic Doppler Current Profiler, which tracks discharge based on sound,” she said. “We attached it to a floatable platform, and then attached that to ropes, which were attached to poles on either side of the ice river. We moved the platform back and forth across the river every hour for 72 hours. No one has ever done that before on the Greenland ice sheet.”

    Van As said the project proved that combining expertise from multiple disciplines — among them meteorology, oceanography and hydrology (the study of the properties and movement of water over land) — is essential for fully understanding how glaciers and ice sheets respond to the climate system.

    “It is important that hydrologists like Larry bring their extensive knowledge into the field of glaciology, using approaches that are new to our discipline,” he said.

    In general, glaciologists are not accustomed to thinking about watersheds on top of the ice, Smith said. The irregularities those watersheds impart on the timing and amount of meltwater penetrating the ice are not currently considered in geophysical models of “ice dynamics,” meaning the speed and spatial pattern of sliding glacial ice as it moves toward the sea.

    “We’re taking the very mature field of land surface hydrology, which deals with river flow and watersheds on land, and applying it to the ice sheet, which has typically been the scientific domain of solid-ice geophysics,” he said. “We have to borrow from hydrology because the ice surface is becoming more of a hydrologic phenomenon. And we can take these tools from another discipline and apply them and actually have a conceptual breakthrough.”

    Smith and his team now are working on a study based on data from a 2016 trip to Greenland, when they spent a week tracking watersheds and digging into the rotten ice.

    Led by UCLA graduate student Matthew Cooper, the researchers are attempting to better explain how rotten ice traps water. They have tracked the rotten ice to a depth of nearly 3 feet below the surface — a finding that could help scientists who develop climate models to better understand how ice sheets are losing mass.

    Part of Smith’s mission in Greenland is empowering a new generation of hydrologists who are eager to join the front lines of tracking global climate change.

    “Climate change is not remote news for me anymore,” said Kang Yang, a former UCLA postdoctoral scholar, who was part of the field team for this study. Now a professor at China’s Nanjing University, Yang will continue to work with Smith on mapping the rivers on Greenland’s ice sheet.

    See the full article here .

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    For nearly 100 years, UCLA has been a pioneer, persevering through impossibility, turning the futile into the attainable.

    We doubt the critics, reject the status quo and see opportunity in dissatisfaction. Our campus, faculty and students are driven by optimism. It is not naïve; it is essential. And it has fueled every accomplishment, allowing us to redefine what’s possible, time after time.

    This can-do perspective has brought us 12 Nobel Prizes, 12 Rhodes Scholarships, more NCAA titles than any university and more Olympic medals than most nations. Our faculty and alumni helped create the Internet and pioneered reverse osmosis. And more than 100 companies have been created based on technology developed at UCLA.

  • richardmitnick 9:33 am on December 6, 2017 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: A ridge in the Northern Pacific drove storms and rain north beyond California and into the Pacific Northwest, An iceless Arctic Ocean, , Calamities like the 2012–16 drought may become more frequent as Arctic ice continues to vanish, Climate Change, , Rossby waves led to the formation at midlatitudes of high-pressure systems or “ridges”, , Vanishing Arctic ice could drive future California droughts   

    From Science: “Vanishing Arctic ice could drive future California droughts” 

    Science Magazine

    Dec. 5, 2017
    Eli Kintisch

    Dead almond trees in California’s Central Valley were one sign of an ongoing major drought in 2015. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson

    California’s recent 5-year drought was brutal: Houseboats sat on lakebeds, groundwater supplies dwindled, and thousands of fish literally baked to death. Scientists consider it the worst such event the Golden State has seen in 1000 years. Now, a new study identifies an unexpected suspect, thousands of kilometers to the north: an iceless Arctic Ocean. The finding, a new atmospheric mechanism that links Arctic melting to conditions farther south, suggests that calamities like the 2012–16 drought may become more frequent as Arctic ice continues to vanish.

    “Changes in the Arctic don’t stay in the Arctic,” says Ivana Cvijanovic, an atmospheric modeler at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in California and lead author of the study. She calls the work another example of the interconnectedness of the climate system, and how Arctic melting can have consequences far from the pole.

    Scientists generally think that global warming, driven mostly by rising levels of atmospheric carbon dioxide, will make some regions wetter and others drier. But Cvijanovic and her colleagues wanted to understand the effects of disappearing polar ice, independent of global warming. So they created a set of global climate models to analyze the ocean and atmosphere over a 40-year period, keeping carbon dioxide levels fixed. They ran one set of simulations with Arctic ice coverage typical of recent years and another in which parameters in the model were set so that a much lower amount of sea ice formed each year.

    In modeling runs with the low-ice condition, the Arctic’s global influence quickly became apparent. With less ice, the Arctic reflected less of the sun’s energy out into space, leading to a surplus of heat there. Within just 20 years, that had disrupted the usual flow of energy toward the Arctic from the tropics, leading to warmer-than-normal waters just north of the equator.

    That excess tropical energy fueled rising air in a process known as convection, creating rain, releasing heat, and forming large-scale atmospheric patterns called Rossby waves. Those waves, in turn, led to the formation at midlatitudes of high-pressure systems, or “ridges.” In the simulations, the clockwise-swirling winds of a ridge in the Northern Pacific drove storms and rain north, beyond California and into the Pacific Northwest, the researchers report today in Nature Communications.

    “The two-step tropical connection seems well supported by their simulations,” says Jennifer Francis, a climate scientist at Rutgers University in New Brunswick, New Jersey, who was not a part of the study. Francis, a leading proponent of the theory that the Arctic can wreak havoc on weather elsewhere in the Northern Hemisphere, adds that the proposed mechanism fits “observations of the real world in recent years.”

    Cvijanovic and her colleagues did not use their work to investigate California’s recent megadrought, but she says it is “consistent” with the scenario in her paper. For much of the drought, a large atmospheric ridge sat implacably over the north Pacific and diverted rain past California to the north—even earning the moniker “the ridiculously resilient ridge” from weather wags.

    And Francis notes another ridge is currently forming in the North Pacific. “Looks like we’re headed toward the exact conditions this paper describes,” she says. “A big persistent dry-warm spell for the west.”

    See the full article here .

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  • richardmitnick 4:58 pm on December 4, 2017 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: A new study links extreme heat during early childhood to lower earnings as an adult, Climate Change, , , Global Warming May Harm Children for Life,   

    From MIT Tech Review: “Global Warming May Harm Children for Life” 

    MIT Technology Review
    M.I.T Technology Review

    December 4, 2017
    James Temple

    A baby sits on a Tel Aviv beach on a hot summer’s day. Uriel Sinai | Getty Images

    A new study links extreme heat during early childhood to lower earnings as an adult.

    growing body of research concludes that rising global temperatures increase the risk of heat stress and stroke, decrease productivity and economic output, widen global wealth disparities, and can trigger greater violence.

    Now a new study by researchers at Stanford, the University of California, Berkeley, and the U.S. Department of the Treasury suggests that even short periods of extreme heat can carry long-term consequences for children and their financial future. Specifically, heat waves during an individual’s early childhood, including the period before birth, can affect his or her earnings three decades later, according to the paper, published on Monday in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. Every day that temperatures rise above 32 ˚C, or just shy of 90 ˚F, from conception to the age of one is associated with a 0.1 percent decrease in average income at the age of 30.

    The researchers don’t directly tackle the tricky question of how higher temperatures translate to lower income, noting only that fetuses and infants are “especially sensitive to hot temperatures because their thermoregulatory and sympathetic nervous systems are not fully developed.” Earlier studies have linked extreme temperatures during this early life period with lower birth rate and higher infant mortality, and a whole field of research has developed around what’s known as the “developmental origins of health and disease paradigm,” which traces the impacts of early health shocks into adulthood.

    There are several pathways through which higher temperatures could potentially lead to lower adult earnings, including reduced cognition, ongoing health issues that increase days missed from school or work, and effects on non-cognitive traits such as ambition, assertiveness, or self-control, says Maya Rossin-Slater, a coauthor of the study and assistant professor in Stanford’s department of health research and policy.

    The bigger danger here is that global warming will mean many more days with a mean temperature above 32 ˚C—specifically, an increase from one per year in the average U.S. county today to around 43 annually by around 2070, according to an earlier UN report cited in the study.

    For workers who would otherwise make $50,000 annually, a single day of extreme heat during their first 21 months would cut their salary by $50. But 43 such days would translate to $2,150. Multiply that by the total population experiencing such events, and it quickly adds up to a huge economic impact. A greater proportion of citizens failing to reach their full earnings potential implies lower overall productivity and economic output.

    All of that comes on top of the ways that high temperatures directly hit the economy, mainly by decreasing human productivity and agricultural yields, according to other research. Unchecked climate change could reduce average global income by around 23 percent in 2100, and as much as 75 percent in the world’s poorest countries, according to research by UC Berkeley public policy professor Solomon Hsiang and coauthors in a 2015 Nature paper (see “Hotter Days Will Drive Global Inequality”). Notably, that excludes the devastating economic impacts of things like hurricanes and sea level rise.

    “We know that high temperatures have numerous damaging consequences for current economic productivity, at the time that the high temperatures occur,” Hsiang said in an e-mail to MIT Technology Review. “This study demonstrates a new way in which high temperatures today reduce economic productivity far into the future, by weakening our labor force.”

    The good news, at least for certain nations and demographic groups, is that air-conditioning nearly eliminates this observed effect, based on the authors’ analysis of U.S. Census data that captures how air-conditioning penetration increased in U.S. counties over time. But that could point to one more way that rising global temperatures will disproportionally harm impoverished nations, or perhaps already have.

    “In poor countries in hot climates that don’t have air-conditioning, we could imagine these effects being even more dramatic,” Rossin-Slater says.

    The study explored the results for 12 million people born in the United States between 1969 and 1977, incorporating adult earnings information from newly available data in the U.S. Census Bureau’s Longitudinal Employer Household Dynamics program. The researchers sought to isolate the impact of temperature, and control for other variables, by using “fine-scale” daily weather data and county-level birth information.

    “This study makes it very clear to see how climate change in the next few decades can affect our grandchildren, even if populations in the distant future figure out how to cool things back down,” Hsiang said.

    See the full article here .

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  • richardmitnick 9:28 am on December 4, 2017 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , Climate Change, Climate made scary, , New York magazine - The Uninhabitable Earth   

    From Harvard Gazette: “Climate made scary” 

    Harvard University
    Harvard Gazette

    Magazine article Uninhabitable Earth drives panel debate on best way to get from complacency to action.

    Panelists at the Geological Museum Wednesday debate whether fear is more effective than hope at spurring climate action. From left are Nikhil Advani, Nancy Knowlton, and Campbell Webb. Kris Snibbe/Harvard Staff Photographer.

    In July, New York magazine published its most-read article ever, surpassing a photo spread of Lindsay Lohan. The topic? Doom.

    While defying the belief among author David Wallace-Wells’ editors that climate change would be “traffic kryptonite,” the story, titled The Uninhabitable Earth, presented an apocalyptic vision in which rising seas flood Miami and Bangladesh, heat and drought cut grain yields in half, diseases spread, and wars rage.

    Unfortunately, that vision isn’t fiction, but rather Wallace-Wells’ summation of climate change’s little-discussed worst-case scenario for the year 2100.

    “I think there’s real value in scaring people,” the journalist said Wednesday during a panel at the Geological Museum, sponsored by the Harvard University Center for the Environment.

    The event, “Hope and Despair: Communicating an Uncertain Future,” explored whether doom and gloom are more effective than hope in spurring climate action. Panelists agreed that fear is a potentially powerful lever, but also insisted on the importance of covering success stories. Progress is an important motivator, keeping people from succumbing to despair in the face of bad news.

    Wallace-Wells said he wrote the article because climate change discussion has centered on limiting global temperature rise to 2 degrees Celsius by 2100. While changes due to that level of warming would be bad enough, the projection, he said, is too often treated as a certainty rather than the middle value in a range that, at its high end, would unleash calamitous effects.

    “It just seems so obvious to me that — when you think about the relatively well-off Western world — complacency about climate is just a much bigger problem than fatalism about climate,” Wallace-Wells said. “A majority of Americans … are concerned about climate change, but very few Americans are very concerned about climate change.”

    Nikhil Advani (from left), David Wallace-Wells, Elizabeth Wolkovich, Nancy Knowlton, and Campbell Webb. No image credit.

    The discussion, moderated by Assistant Professor of Organismic and Evolutionary Biology Elizabeth Wolkovich, also featured Campbell Webb of the University of Alaska, who penned a 2005 article calling for hope in conservation biology despite discouraging developments. That hope, he wrote, was needed for the benefit of the biologists themselves even as it faded for the environments and organisms of their research.

    Webb said during the panel that the article was a reflection of the grief he felt at the loss of Indonesian rainforests where he had worked. Today, he said, whether he feels optimistic or pessimistic depends on the day.

    Panelist Nancy Knowlton, Sant Chair for Marine Science at the Smithsonian Institution, began an “ocean optimism” Twitter account over negative predictions for coral reefs. The feed, according to the account page, is aimed at “sharing solutions and creating a new narrative of hope for our ocean.” That optimism, she said, is fueled by success stories that are too often ignored.

    Knowlton recalled a conference in Tampa Bay, Florida, where she asked how many in the audience of 200 knew about the restoration of nearby seagrass beds that had been wiped out by the 1960s. Four people raised their hands.

    Panelist Nikhil Advani, who works with rural communities on behalf of the World Wildlife Fund, agreed with Knowlton on the importance of promoting successes, especially in the case of small-scale entrepreneurs who make a regional impact.

    Wallace-Wells sees cause for optimism in the potential scale of disruption. That humans can drive negative effects, he said, also suggests their potential to be agents of positive change. The question is how to stoke that potential.

    Knowlton said that different audiences demand different approaches. While some people can be motivated by fear of a dark future and others by hope, still others, like the Republican mayor of Georgetown, Texas, which is powered entirely by renewables, are moved by economic arguments.

    It’s crucial to get young people involved in climate action, said Knowlton and Advani.

    While students have the energy and ideas to make a difference, they can also be discouraged by feelings of hopelessness. This group needs to be told not only of the problems we face, but also of strong foundations where they can build, Knowlton said.

    “I’ve had many, many students come up to me after talks about optimism or the Earth optimism summit that we ran in Washington, saying, ‘You know, this was incredibly empowering. I now want to go out and work on solving this problem. I almost left the field of conservation because I thought there was nothing we could do.’”

    See the full article here .

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    Harvard is the oldest institution of higher education in the United States, established in 1636 by vote of the Great and General Court of the Massachusetts Bay Colony. It was named after the College’s first benefactor, the young minister John Harvard of Charlestown, who upon his death in 1638 left his library and half his estate to the institution. A statue of John Harvard stands today in front of University Hall in Harvard Yard, and is perhaps the University’s best known landmark.

    Harvard University has 12 degree-granting Schools in addition to the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study. The University has grown from nine students with a single master to an enrollment of more than 20,000 degree candidates including undergraduate, graduate, and professional students. There are more than 360,000 living alumni in the U.S. and over 190 other countries.

  • richardmitnick 6:07 am on October 25, 2017 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , Climate Change, , Herbivores help protect marine ecosystems from climate change,   

    From ICL: “Herbivores help protect marine ecosystems from climate change” 

    Imperial College London
    Imperial College London

    25 October 2017
    Hayley Dunning

    A limpet on seaweed. Image: Rebecca Kordas

    Plant-eating critters are key to helping ecosystems survive global warming, offering some hope for a defence strategy against climate change.

    An international research team created miniature marine ecosystems and tested how they fared in warmer conditions. They found that in the hottest conditions, ecosystems that included limpets – voracious snail-like marine herbivores – fared the best.

    The study, published in Science Advances, monitored mini ecosystems on rocky shores made up of different collections of organisms. The ecosystems were grown on special hard plastic plates that could be individually warmed. This allowed the researchers to test how the different ecosystems responded to temperature rises while in their natural habitat.

    Ecosystems are in a delicate balance: removing organisms that do key jobs can cause the whole system to deteriorate. If this ecosystem is then put under stress, it is less able to cope and can collapse.

    In these experiments, it was the key job performed by the main herbivore (limpets) that helped the ecosystems stay resilient in the face of warming. Limpets are voracious consumers of algae, and their action prevents algae from building up and using all the available space – a valuable resource on rocky shores.

    Variety needed

    Lead author of the study Dr Rebecca Kordas, who completed this research for her PhD at the University of British Columbia and is now a research fellow at Imperial College London, said: “The herbivores created space for other plants and animals to move in and we saw much more diversity and variety in these ecosystems.

    “We want variety because we found it helps protect the ecosystem when you add a stressor like heat.”

    The experimental plates underwater. Image: Rebecca Kordas

    The research team studied life in the intertidal zone, the area of the shore between the low tide and high tide, on the coast of British Columbia. This area is home to a community of starfish, anemones, mussels, barnacles and seaweed. As the tide moves in and out, the plants and animals must cope with huge variation in temperature every day, sometimes as much as 20 to 25 degrees Celsius.

    Despite dealing daily with these extremes, the ecosystems can be severely damaged by further warming. Dr Kordas said: “When heat waves come through British Columbia and the Pacific Northwest, we see mass mortality of numerous intertidal species.

    “These creatures are already living at their physical limits, so a two-degree change – a conservative prediction of the warming expected over the next 80 years or so – can make a big difference.”

    Making ecosystems more resilient

    The researchers found that in the summer, when temperatures were at their warmest, communities could fare well even if they were heated, but only if limpets were present. Dr Kordas added: “When limpets were part of the community, the effects of warming were less harsh.”

    Plates along the shore in Ruckle Park, British Columbia. Image: Rebecca Kordas

    Senior study author Professor Christopher Harley from the University of British Columbia says that, in general – consumers like limpets, sea otters or starfish are very important to maintaining biodiversity, especially in aquatic ecosystems. Losing these species can destabilize ecosystems, but protecting them can make ecosystems more resilient.

    “We should be thinking of ways to reduce our negative effects on the natural environment and these results show that if we do basic conservation and management, it can make a big difference in terms of how ecosystems will weather climate change,” Professor Harley said.

    See the full article here .

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    Imperial College London

    Imperial College London is a science-based university with an international reputation for excellence in teaching and research. Consistently rated amongst the world’s best universities, Imperial is committed to developing the next generation of researchers, scientists and academics through collaboration across disciplines. Located in the heart of London, Imperial is a multidisciplinary space for education, research, translation and commercialisation, harnessing science and innovation to tackle global challenges.

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