Climate Change Coalition

Early Bird Registration Ends Soon!

Don’t forget to register for the 5th Annual Climate Change Forum! We have a great program lined up for you all and its coming up fast. Early bird registration ends on May 10th and you don’t want to miss it; after May 10th, registration increases to $30 per person.

We would also like to thank our sponsors and supporters

Crossroads at Big Creek

Ecology Sports

Going Garbage

Innovative Printing, LLC

Stone Harbor Resort

Synergy Heating & Cooling

 

Visit our events page for more information on our presenting sponsors.

Gulf Stream current at its weakest in 1,600 years, studies show

Warm current that has historically caused dramatic changes in climate is experiencing an unprecedented slowdown and may be less stable than thought – with potentially severe consequences

Scene from The Day After Tomorrow

 Scene from The Day After Tomorrow showing the Statue of Liberty covered in ice. In the film a rapid shutdown of the Amoc current causes the temperatures to plummet overnight. In reality the change will be much slower, but still dramatic.
Photograph: 20th Century Fox/Kobal/REX/Shutterstock

The warm Atlantic current linked to severe and abrupt changes in the climate in the past is now at its weakest in at least 1,600 years, new research shows. The findings, based on multiple lines of scientific evidence, throw into question previous predictions that a catastrophic collapse of the Gulf Stream would take centuries to occur.

Such a collapse would see western Europe suffer far more extreme winters, sea levels rise fast on the eastern seaboard of the US and would disrupt vital tropical rains. The new research shows the current is now 15% weaker than around 400AD, an exceptionally large deviation, and that human-caused global warming is responsible for at least a significant part of the weakening.

The current, known as the Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation (Amoc), carries warm water northwards towards the north pole. There it cools, becomes denser and sinks, and then flows back southwards. But global warming hampers the cooling of the water, while melting ice in the Arctic, particularly from Greenland, floods the area with less dense freshwater, weakening the Amoc current.

Scientists know that Amoc has slowed since 2004, when instruments were deployed at sea to measure it. But now two new studies have provided comprehensive ocean-based evidence that the weakening is unprecedented in at least 1,600 years, which is as far back as the new research stretches.

Screenshot 2018-04-16 21.13.11.png

“Amoc is a really important part of the Earth’s climate system and it has played an important part in abrupt climate change in the past,” said Dr David Thornalley, from University College London who led one of the new studies. He said current climate models do not replicate the observed slowdown, suggesting that Amoc is less stable that thought.

During the last ice age, some big changes in Amoc led to winter temperatures changing by 5-10C in as short a time as one to three years, with major consequences for the weather over the land masses bordering the Atlantic. “The [current] climate models don’t predict [an Amoc shutdown] is going to happen in the future – the problem is how certain are we it is not going to happen? It is one of these tipping points that is relatively low probability, but high impact.”

The study by Thornalley and colleagues, published in Nature, used cores of sediments from a key site off Cape Hatteras in North Carolina to examine Amoc over the last 1600 years. Larger grains of sediment reflect faster Amoc currents and vice versa.

They also used the shells of tiny marine creatures from sites across the Atlantic to measure a characteristic pattern of temperatures that indicate the strength of Amoc. When it weakens, a large area of ocean around Iceland cools, as less warm water is brought north, and the waters off the east coast of the US get warmer.

The second study, also published in Nature, also used the characteristic pattern of temperatures, but assessed this using thermometer data collected over the last 120 years or so.

Both studies found that Amoc today is about 15% weaker than 1,600 years ago, but there were also differences in their conclusions. The first study found significant Amoc weakening after the end of the little ice age in about 1850, the result of natural climate variability, with further weakening caused later by global warming.

The second study suggests most of the weakening came later, and can be squarely blamed on the burning of fossil fuels. Further research is now being undertaken to understand the reasons for the differences.

 

However, it is already clear that human-caused climate change will continue to slow Amoc, with potentially severe consequences. “If we do not rapidly stop global warming, we must expect a further long-term slowdown of the Atlantic overturning,” said Alexander Robinson, at the University of Madrid, and one of the team that conducted the second study. He warned: “We are only beginning to understand the consequences of this unprecedented process – but they might be disruptive.”

A 2004 disaster movie, The Day After Tomorrow, envisaged a rapid shutdown of Amoc and a devastating freeze. The basics of the science were portrayed correctly, said Thornalley: “Obviously it was exaggerated – the changes happened in a few days or weeks and were much more extreme. But it is true that in the past this weakening of Amoc happened very rapidly and caused big changes.”


Click Here for original article posted on The Guardian

Celebrate Earth Week 2018

The Climate Change Coalition is proud to be a part of this earth inspired series of events. Please visit http://www.facebook.com/earthweekdoorcounty for more information. Click through the following images for entire series of events!

CEW18.CalOfEvents.FINAL+.4.1.18 JPEG.jpg

CEW18.Movies..All.3.30.18 JPEG.jpg

REGISTRATION IS OPEN!

CCCDC_Forum Invitation 2018forum response form 2018

New Report Predicts Rising Tides, More Flooding

“Including tidal inlets, Virginia has a 3,315 mile ocean coastline with one of the world’s largest naval complexes on that coast.  Both are soon to be awash in tidal flooding but the “why” of the flooding can only be discussed within the military, not in Virginia state offices.” – Mary Smythe, CCCDC Co-Chair

Some of the worst flooding during this past weekend’s East Coast storm happened during high tides.

Shoreline tides are getting progressively higher. A soon-to-be-published report obtained by NPR predicts a future where flooding will be a weekly event in some coastal parts of the country.

“The numbers are staggering,” says oceanographer William Sweet, at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. “Today’s storm will be tomorrow’s high tide,” he says, referring to how high coastal water rises. “A storm [such as we experienced] along the East Coast of the United States this weekend, that will be a high tide at some point in the future, whether that’s two or three decades or eight decades, we’ll see, but it’s coming.”

This new report sets out to give communities a clear guide to prepare for coastal flooding. “We find that minor flooding starts on average about a foot and half above high tide,” says Sweet. “Moderate flooding starts about 2 1 /2 feet above high tide, and major flooding starts about 4 feet.”

That’s what people can expect now; it gives them a margin of safety, and for the most part communities have been built to handle that. But here’s the thing: As high tides get higher, that is inexorably reducing the margin of safety.

In fact, even without a storm, high tides already are flooding cities like Miami and Norfolk, Va. And now NOAA’s latest calculations portray a future where this kind of “sunny day” flooding will become a lot more frequent.

NOAA’s calculations of future high tides assumes two “intermediate” forecasts of how much sea level will rise — from 1 1/2 feet to 3 feet by 2100. It by no means assumes some of the more severe scenarios should the ice sheets in Greenland or the Antarctic melt. Even with intermediate rise, by 2050 cities on the Atlantic would see high tides flooding the streets 25 to 130 times a year. By 2100, it could happen almost every day. These frequencies will be influenced by weather patterns like El Nino and prevailing winds, but over time they’ll occur more often from rising tides alone as sea level gets higher.

NOAA has also found the rate of increase in tidal flooding is accelerating in about a third of the places it has tracked. “The problem is going to become chronic rather quickly,” says Sweet. “It’s not going to be a slow, gradual change.”

It’s already becoming chronic in Norfolk. Emily Steinhilber studies coastal issues at Old Dominion University in Virginia. She also lives close to flood zones. “It’s definitely a topic a conversation,” she says. Steinhilber says, for example, that the city’s largest hospital is hardening its campus against flooding. The city just passed an ordinance requiring new construction to be built higher off the ground.

But Steinhilber says the root cause of all this — global warming — isn’t always discussed. “For the most part, everyone is aware that sea level is rising and they know that we’re kind of in the bull’s-eye,” she says, “and the background of ‘Why’ is not really part of the conversation.”

Others are having that conversation, such as the U.S. military. Retired Navy Rear Adm. Ann Phillips says military leaders are aware that warming means sea level rise. That’s especially worrisome for the Navy. “We can’t use historical data to plan what’s coming because it won’t work,” she says.

Well over 100 military installations that are close to coastlines have reported flooding recently. According to a report from the Center for Climate and Security (which Phillips helped write), tidal flooding will increasingly threaten equipment, fuel depots, ammunition warehouses, housing and docks. Now, Phillips says, these new tidal flooding numbers from NOAA lay out a difficult future for the Navy, which can’t just retreat from coastlines. “Yet another report that sea level rise is accelerating [with] recurrent flooding just makes the sense of urgency that much more acute,” she says.

Cities like Norfolk and Miami, as well as the military, are planning on building sea walls, raising buildings and fortifying themselves, but they’re in a long race with a relentless rising tide that is picking up speed.

The NOAA report, titled “Patterns and Protections of High Tide Flooding Along the U.S. Coastline Using a Common Impact Threshold,” is due to be released this week.


Click Here for original article

 

Image: Flooding in Boston’s North End during a nor’easter storm on Friday. A new government report suggests floods will become more common over the next century.

David L. Ryan/Boston Globe via Getty Images

Mission of the Climate Change Coalition

Save the Date! 5th Annual Climate Forum

Swallowed by the Sea

As CCCDC Steering Committee member Dick Smythe always says, it is the poorest nations and their people who will suffer most from the changing climate.  When poverty is coupled with low-lying land bordering oceans, tragedy becomes inevitable.

You doubt climate change? Come to this island — but hurry, before it disappears.

By 

merlin_132063260_867c93ed-d908-46a8-ab4b-fd601e3abe33-superJumbo.jpg

Zainal Abedin stands near the spot where remnants of his family home on the Bangladeshi island of Kutubdia sit underwater. CreditThomas Nybo/Redux, for Unicef

KUTUBDIA, Bangladesh — Anyone who doubts climate change should come to this lovely low-lying island, lapped by gentle waves and home to about 100,000 people.

But come quickly, while it’s still here.

“My house was over there,” said Zainal Abedin, a farmer, pointing to the waves about 100 feet from the shore. “At low tide, we can still see signs of our house.”

Already much of Kutubdia has been swallowed by rising seas, leaving countless families with nothing. Nurul Haque, a farmer who lost all his land to the ocean, told me that he may have to pull his daughter, Munni Akter, 13, out of eighth grade and marry her off to an older man looking for a second or third wife, because he has few financial options left to support her.

“I don’t really want to marry her off, because it’s not good for girls,” he said glumly. “But I’m considering it.” He insisted that if it weren’t for the rising waters and his resulting impoverishment, he wouldn’t think of finding a husband for her.

Nurul Haque, a farmer whose land was consumed by the ocean, is considering marrying off his 13-year-old daughter, Munni Akter, because he’s running out of ways to support her. CreditThomas Nybo/Redux, for Unicef

One of the paradoxes of climate change is that the world’s poorest and most vulnerable people — who contribute almost nothing to warming the planet — end up being most harmed by it.

Bangladesh is expected to be particularly badly hit by rising oceans because much of the country is only a few feet above sea level.

“Climate change is destroying children’s futures,” noted Justin Forsyth, the deputy executive director of Unicef. “In Bangladesh, tens of millions of children and families are at risk of losing their homes, their land and their livelihoods from rising sea levels, flooding and increased cyclone intensity.”

Forsyth said the average Bangladeshi produces just one-tenth of the global average in annual per-capita carbon emissions. In contrast, the United States accounts for more than one-quarter of cumulative carbon emissions since 1850, more than twice as much as any other country.

If Munni is pulled out of school and married off, she’ll have plenty of company. Unicef data suggest that 22 percent of girls in Bangladesh marry by the age of 15, one of the highest rates in the world.

“Climate changes appear to be increasing the numbers of girls who are forced to marry,” a three-year academic study in Bangladesh concluded.

On the mainland, gravel is carried to cement mixers, to be used in concrete blocks that will be placed along the coast to hold back the rising sea. CreditThomas Nybo/Redux, for Unicef

A year ago in Madagascar I met a family ready to marry off a 10-year-old girl, Fombasoa, because of a drought linked to climate change. And there are increasing reports that poverty linked to climate change is leading to child marriage in Malawi, Mozambique and other countries.

In Kutubdia, climate change is not the only issue. The seas are rising, but in addition, Kutubdia itself seems to be sinking.

The upshot is that the island’s shoreline has retreated by about a kilometer since the 1960s, farmers say. Even when land is mostly dry, occasional high tides or storm surges bring in saltwater that poisons the rice paddies. Thousands of climate refugees have already fled Kutubdia and formed their own neighborhood in the mainland Bangladeshi city of Cox’s Bazaar.

A similar injustice is apparent in many poor countries. “Climate change contributes to conflict,” noted Neal Keny-Guyer, the C.E.O. of Mercy Corps, the aid group. He observed that a drier climate is widely believed to have caused agricultural failures, tensions and migrations that played a role in the Syrian civil war, the Darfur genocide and the civil war in northeastern Nigeria.

Mokbul Ahmed, standing on a Kutubdia beach fortified by concrete blocks, points to where he had lived and farmed. CreditThomas Nybo/Redux, for Unicef

Aside from reducing carbon emissions, Keny-Guyer said, Western countries can do much more to build resilience in poor countries. That can include supporting drought-resistant or saltwater-resistant crops, and offering microinsurance to farmers and herdsmen so that a drought does not devastate them. Mercy Corps is now developing such microinsurance.

The evidence of climate change is increasingly sobering, with the last four years also the hottest four years on record since modern record-keeping began in the 1880s.

We’re also coming to understand that climate change may wreak havoc, changing ocean currents, killing coral reefs and nurturing feedback loops that accelerate the warming. It turns out that 99 percent of green sea turtles hatched in the northern Great Barrier Reef are now femalebecause their sex is determined by temperature.

Most of the villagers I spoke to both in Madagascar and in Bangladesh had never heard of President Trump. But the outlook for their descendants may depend on the actions he takes — and his withdrawal from the Paris climate accord is an unhelpful surrender of American leadership.

Americans were recently horrified by a viral video of a starving polar bear, whose condition may or may not be linked to climate change. Let’s hope we can be just as indignant about the impact of climate change on children like Munni.

Structures were recently added along the island’s coastline in an attempt to prevent the further encroachment of the ocean. CreditThomas Nybo/Redux, for Unicef


Click Here for original article

Climate Change Is Altering Lakes and Streams, Study Suggests

By: Carl Zimmer

16SCI-ZIMMER1-master768.jpg

The Sorpe reservoir in northwest Germany, one of four freshwater reservoirs observed in a recent study that found that carbon dioxide absorbed in lakes, rivers and streams can affect entire ecosystems.CreditMauritius Images GmbH/Alamy

To scientists who study lakes and rivers, it seems humans have embarked on a huge unplanned experiment.

By burning fossil fuels, we have already raised the concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere by 40 percent, and we’re on track to increase it by much more. Some of that gas may mix into the world’s inland waters, and recent studies hint that this may have profound effects on the species that live in them.

“We’re monkeying with the very chemical foundation of these ecosystems,” said Emily H. Stanley, a limnologist (freshwater ecologist) at the University of Wisconsin — Madison. “But right now we don’t know enough yet to know where we’re going. To me, scientifically that’s really interesting, and as a human a little bit frightening.”

Scientists began taking continuous measurements of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere in the 1950s, and today they have more than six decades of consistent readings. In the 1980s, oceanographers followed suit, developing carbon dioxide sensors and deploying them across the planet.

Over the past three decades, they’ve chronicled a steady rise of carbon dioxide in seawater. The increasing concentration can harm marine life in many ways.

It lowers the pH of seawater, for one thing, making it more acidic and interfering with the chemistry that coral, for instance, use to build their calcium skeletons. Ocean acidification also thins the shells of oysters and other animals.

Many marine organisms rely on chemical changes in water to find food and avoid danger. “Many fish are not able to detect their predators anymore,” said Linda C. Weiss, an aquatic ecologist at Ruhr University Bochum in Germany. “They can even get more bold.”

Dr. Weiss first came to appreciate the impact of ocean acidification in 2010, when she spent time at a marine research station in Australia. The experience left her wondering if lakes and rivers might face a similar threat.

Her first step was to look for historical data about carbon dioxide levels in fresh water. But a literature search brought her to a surprising conclusion. “I discovered there was no information,” she said.

Traditionally, scientists who have studied inland waters have focused on different questions. They’ve been more concerned, for example, with sulfuric acid and other pollutants in acid rain, along with the impacts of runoff from farms and yards.

Now that researchers have grown concerned about carbon dioxide levels, they’ve been developing ways to reconstruct their history.

The level of carbon dioxide in a lake depends on such variables as its temperature and how much organic carbon it contains. If those factors have been tracked in the past, scientists can use them to get an estimate of a lake’s carbon dioxide level, too.

Dr. Weiss and her colleagues used this method to figure out the carbon dioxide levels in four reservoirs in Germany from 1981 to 2015. They reported Thursday in the journal Current Biology that the amounts tripled in that time.

“We didn’t really know what to expect,” said Dr. Weiss. “But the speed of acidification we find is quite fast.”

The researchers wondered what effects this fast rise in carbon dioxide might have on freshwater life in decades to come. So they ran experiments on the humble water flea.

At top right, a water flea with its protective crest; at bottom right, a water flea with “neckteeth.” These defenses may be blunted  by chemical changes in the water. Credit:Linda Weiss and Sina Becker.

At top right, a water flea with its protective crest; at bottom right, a water flea with “neckteeth.” These defenses may be blunted by chemical changes in water. CreditLinda Weiss and Sina Becker

These tiny, shrimplike creatures filter algae and microbes from water. They are devoured in turn by small fish, which are eaten by bigger fish. If rising carbon dioxide were to affect water fleas, Dr. Weiss reasoned, it could influence the entire lake ecosystem.

Water fleas use a bizarre but sophisticated defense to escape predators. They can sense chemicals given off by fish in their vicinity, and in response they make themselves harder to eat.

Some species grow a massive crest on their head, while others sprout spikes. Dr. Weiss and her colleagues found that high levels of carbon dioxide caused water fleas to make smaller crests and shorter spikes.

Rather than the acidity of the water, carbon dioxide itself seems to be affecting the water fleas. When the researchers lowered the pH with hydrochloric acid, the water fleas responded normally to predators.

Dr. Weiss hypothesized that carbon dioxide interferes with the nervous system of the water fleas, blunting their ability to look out for predators.

Caleb T. Hasler, a biologist at the University of Winnipeg, said that the new research addressed an unanswered question: the amounts of carbon dioxide that might harm freshwater life.

“This paper is really important because it starts to show where those levels might be,” he said.

Dr. Hasler’s own recent research hints that water fleas may not be the only freshwater animals to be altered by carbon dioxide. He and his colleagues studied minnows swimming in water rich with carbon dioxide and found that the fish don’t respond as quickly to alarm signals released by other minnows.

In another study, the team studied two species of mussels. One species relaxed its muscles in water high in carbon dioxide, so that its shell gaped open. The other species clamped its shell shut, so that it could no longer filter food.

These sorts of changes may send ripples out across entire freshwater ecosystems. Mussels are vital for filtering food and keeping water clear, for example. If water fleas do a worse job of escaping predators, their population may decline, leaving less food in the long run for fish.

But it’s not certain that inland waters around the world are building up carbon dioxide at the rate that Dr. Weiss and her colleagues observed in the German reservoirs.

In November, Dr. Stanley and her colleagues published a study of carbon dioxide levels in lakes in Wisconsin. Between 1986 and 2011, they detected no significant change at all.

The mismatch points to the complex chemistry varying from one lake to the next. While lakes and rivers all absorb carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, some also draw in the gas from surrounding soils.

The chemistry of some inland waters causes a lot of carbon dioxide to be converted into other compounds. Some lakes and streams may support a lot of underwater plants that take up the gas, for instance, while others may have microbes can release more of it.

Making matters even more complicated, the carbon dioxide levels in any particular body of freshwater can change drastically over time with swings in temperature and other conditions.

“You can have lakes where the carbon dioxide increases tenfold at night,” said Dr. Hasler.

In decades to come, as carbon dioxide levels continue to climb in the atmosphere, Dr. Stanley speculated, the picture will only get more nuanced.

“I honestly don’t know where we’re going,” said Dr. Stanley. “I’ll probably put my money on increased variability from lake to lake. They’re just going to be more extreme.”

Dr. Weiss agreed that it wasn’t possible to draw big lessons from the preliminary data. “I think this study we’re publishing is like a door-opener,” she said. “I hope there will be other scientists who will follow.”


Click Here for Original Article

CCCDC January 2018 Clearing Class Announcement.jpg