Thursday, December 01, 2011

World Bank report: Caribbean at risk with global sea level rise

From: Guardian Media  by Arthur Snell

The launch of this interesting report (available online at the CEPAL Web site http://www.eclac.org/publicaciones/xml/8/39188/LCARL.250.pdf)  helps us understand the risks and opportunities that climate change will have on key economic sectors in the Caribbean.

We know these are likely to be considerable: The World Bank has listed small island developing states as most at risk from sea level rise and recent modelling indicates that the northern Caribbean may exceed global average sea level rise by up to 25 per cent.  Studies have already shown that inaction or failing to adapt could cost an average of five per cent of GDP across the region by 2025, more in some countries, and worsening with time. The time for action is now. We want this report to help decision-makers target their preventative and mitigating efforts. 

Crucially, we also have here a collation of the main findings to share with the public, helping drive regional awareness and resilience-building among ordinary citizens.   This programme was locally driven, because its findings matter locally. It brought together a high level group, involving key policy-makers from across the region to provide advice and momentum. 

The technical group that undertook the assessments and helped build local knowledge in use of the methodology was also from the region.  This is vital local expertise to nurture and continue to build.  

There are some key points to highlight:  Negative impacts are not inevitable: There is a great deal that can be done to prepare and reduce the impacts of climate, as long as we act quickly and decisively. 

In some cases, the impacts of climate change may be positive. We need to prepare to take advantage of them. With a high regional dependency on imported oil products for power generation and some of the world’s highest electricity costs, win-win outcomes are possible, for example, with renewable energy and energy efficiency measures that would actually result in lower energy costs to the ordinary consumer.

We know that any action taken will have a cost. Measures which are premature, or not cost effective, risk a trade-off with growth by diverting resources from more productive uses. It is important to include cost benefit analysis—a critical part of this report—and consider the uncertainties before decisions are made. 

The best solution will be to build in flexibility, keeping options open, for example, new seed varieties that do well now and will continue to do well whether rains are good or not. Adaptation and resilience-building is a process, and we must continue to learn as we progress.  

World Bank report: Caribbean at risk with global sea level rise

From: Guardian Media  by Arthur Snell

The launch of this interesting report (available online at the CEPAL Web site http://www.eclac.org/publicaciones/xml/8/39188/LCARL.250.pdf)  helps us understand the risks and opportunities that climate change will have on key economic sectors in the Caribbean.

We know these are likely to be considerable: The World Bank has listed small island developing states as most at risk from sea level rise and recent modelling indicates that the northern Caribbean may exceed global average sea level rise by up to 25 per cent.  Studies have already shown that inaction or failing to adapt could cost an average of five per cent of GDP across the region by 2025, more in some countries, and worsening with time. The time for action is now. We want this report to help decision-makers target their preventative and mitigating efforts. 

Crucially, we also have here a collation of the main findings to share with the public, helping drive regional awareness and resilience-building among ordinary citizens.   This programme was locally driven, because its findings matter locally. It brought together a high level group, involving key policy-makers from across the region to provide advice and momentum. 

The technical group that undertook the assessments and helped build local knowledge in use of the methodology was also from the region.  This is vital local expertise to nurture and continue to build.  

There are some key points to highlight:  Negative impacts are not inevitable: There is a great deal that can be done to prepare and reduce the impacts of climate, as long as we act quickly and decisively. 

In some cases, the impacts of climate change may be positive. We need to prepare to take advantage of them. With a high regional dependency on imported oil products for power generation and some of the world’s highest electricity costs, win-win outcomes are possible, for example, with renewable energy and energy efficiency measures that would actually result in lower energy costs to the ordinary consumer.

We know that any action taken will have a cost. Measures which are premature, or not cost effective, risk a trade-off with growth by diverting resources from more productive uses. It is important to include cost benefit analysis—a critical part of this report—and consider the uncertainties before decisions are made. 

The best solution will be to build in flexibility, keeping options open, for example, new seed varieties that do well now and will continue to do well whether rains are good or not. Adaptation and resilience-building is a process, and we must continue to learn as we progress.  

World Bank report: Caribbean at risk with global sea level rise

From: Guardian Media  by Arthur Snell

The launch of this interesting report (available online at the CEPAL Web site http://www.eclac.org/publicaciones/xml/8/39188/LCARL.250.pdf)  helps us understand the risks and opportunities that climate change will have on key economic sectors in the Caribbean.

We know these are likely to be considerable: The World Bank has listed small island developing states as most at risk from sea level rise and recent modelling indicates that the northern Caribbean may exceed global average sea level rise by up to 25 per cent.  Studies have already shown that inaction or failing to adapt could cost an average of five per cent of GDP across the region by 2025, more in some countries, and worsening with time. The time for action is now. We want this report to help decision-makers target their preventative and mitigating efforts. 

Crucially, we also have here a collation of the main findings to share with the public, helping drive regional awareness and resilience-building among ordinary citizens.   This programme was locally driven, because its findings matter locally. It brought together a high level group, involving key policy-makers from across the region to provide advice and momentum. 

The technical group that undertook the assessments and helped build local knowledge in use of the methodology was also from the region.  This is vital local expertise to nurture and continue to build.  

There are some key points to highlight:  Negative impacts are not inevitable: There is a great deal that can be done to prepare and reduce the impacts of climate, as long as we act quickly and decisively. 

In some cases, the impacts of climate change may be positive. We need to prepare to take advantage of them. With a high regional dependency on imported oil products for power generation and some of the world’s highest electricity costs, win-win outcomes are possible, for example, with renewable energy and energy efficiency measures that would actually result in lower energy costs to the ordinary consumer.

We know that any action taken will have a cost. Measures which are premature, or not cost effective, risk a trade-off with growth by diverting resources from more productive uses. It is important to include cost benefit analysis—a critical part of this report—and consider the uncertainties before decisions are made. 

The best solution will be to build in flexibility, keeping options open, for example, new seed varieties that do well now and will continue to do well whether rains are good or not. Adaptation and resilience-building is a process, and we must continue to learn as we progress.  

UNH scientists to provide sea level rise data for next IPCC report

From: EurekaAlert

DURHAM, N.H. – Scientists at the University of New Hampshire's Institute for the Study of Earth, Oceans, and Space (EOS) have been funded by NASA to improve estimates of how melting mountain glaciers around the globe will contribute to sea level rise in the future. The data, which are currently poorly understood, will be a critical new element in the next assessment by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).

"Our role in this project is to plug new meltwater estimates into the global water balance/river transport model we developed here at UNH and move it all downstream to gauge potential sea level rise," says co-investigator and lead UNH scientist Richard Lammers of the Water Systems Analysis Group. "It's an accounting of the world's water under changing conditions."

The multi-institution project also involves scientists from the University of Alaska, Fairbanks and Ohio State University who will, respectively, run glacier mass balance models to determine how all this ice will change under different climate scenarios, and improve estimates of all the global mountain glaciers by means of "remotely sensed" satellite maps.

For decades, the massive ice sheets in Greenland and Antarctica have been the subject of intense scientific investigation to assess their potential contribution to sea level rise, but a full assessment and study of the smaller and scattered population of mountain glaciers around the globe has not been factored into climate models. This is due in part to a scarcity of data; while some 131,000 mountain glaciers have been cataloged, twice that number are thought to exist worldwide.

Says Lammers, "While there are large parts of the world where small glaciers have been identified and mapped, such as the Himalayas, in other regions they are neither well mapped nor sufficiently investigated with respect to what a warming climate will do to them."

The hydrological resource implications of continuing glacial melt will affect more than 1.1 billion people living in glacier or snowmelt-fed river basins around the globe. Moreover, glacial meltwater often provides the only source of water for humans and biodiversity during dry seasons. Increased melt due to climate change has the potential to substantially alter both the magnitude and timing of freshwater discharge.

The three-year study will estimate and predict the contribution of mountain glaciers to sea level for the last decade and out to the end of this century. The interdisciplinary work combines glaciology, meteorology, hydrology, satellite remote sensing, and sea-level research.

An important aspect of UNH's water balance/river transport modeling will be taking into account meltwater that does not make its way downstream to oceans due to human intervention such as dams, irrigation, or because the rivers flow into landlocked or "endorheic" drainage basins.

"We will establish which glaciers are providing water to the oceans and which are sending it to these endorheic basins," Lammers says. Moreover, he adds, because irrigation is a huge factor in the overall equation, even if melting glaciers and icecaps are adding in meltwater that heretofore has not been part of the global hydrological cycle, the vast amounts of water removed for irrigation purposes will not directly contribute to overall sea level rise.

"So human effects may mitigate somewhat the affects of the excess melt and eventual sea level rise, and getting a better understanding of all that is part of our work with the water balance/transport model," Lammers notes.

The principal investigator for the project is Regine Hock of the University of Alaska, Fairbanks. Hock will use climate projections such as temperatures and precipitation amounts from IPCC data in glacier mass balance models on all of the individual mountain glaciers identified for the study. Co-investigator Jason Box of Ohio State University will develop and refine global-scale land ice inventories using satellite remote sensing imagery from a variety of NASA Earth-orbiting satellites.

The University of New Hampshire, founded in 1866, is a world-class public research university with the feel of a New England liberal arts college. A land, sea, and space-grant university, UNH is the state's flagship public institution, enrolling 12,200 undergraduate and 2,300 graduate students.

Contact: David Sims
david.sims@unh.edu
603-862-5369
University of New Hampshire

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Climate change in the Pacific–new report!

From: CSIRO by: Huw Morgan

A new report has the most up to date scientific analysis of climate change in the Pacific region.

The report was released today by the Australian Government’s Pacific Climate Change Science Program (PCCSP).

Climate Change in the Pacific: Scientific Assessment and New Research, presents the most comprehensive scientific analysis to date of climate change in the Pacific region.

Co-editor of the report, the Bureau of Meteorology’s Dr Scott Power, said the findings would be presented at an event during the 2011 United Nations Climate Change Conference being held from next week in Durban, South Africa.

Co-editor, CSIRO’s Kevin Hennessy, said the research indicated future decreases in droughts in most parts of the Pacific and decreases in the frequency of tropical cyclones by the end of the century.

“We also expect widespread increases in extreme rainfall events, large increases in the incidence of hot days and warm nights, increases in the proportion of tropical cyclones in the more intense categories and continued sea-level rise during this century,” he said.