March 1, 2017 (Source: UF) - The Florida Climate Institute at the University of Florida hosted a 3-Minute Thesis/2-Minute Video Competition on February 28 in which graduate students presented their climate-related research. The event included students from several disciplines who all needed to use one slide to create a compelling story about the importance of their research for a lay audience.
The winners of the 3mt/2mv contest were:
3MT: 1st place-- Sinead Crotty, PhD student for Synergistic interaction between sea-level rise and predator depletion drives regional salt marsh loss 2nd place--Jose Rafael Guarin. PhD student for Validating the NWheat crop model with historical extreme events 3rd place--Elliott White Jr. for Quantifying the impacts of chronic, low-level salinity on bald cypress swamps along the northern Gulf of Mexico
2MV: Eduardo Montiero Gelcer for Climate smart agriculture: a tool to monitor crop development and weather to reduce risks in the southeast USA
March 1, 2017 - The Florida Climate Institute is pleased to welcome Nova Southeastern University (NSU) in Fort Lauderdale, FL, as our 10th member university. The NSU FCI branch will be directed by Dr. Bernard Riegl of the Halmos College of Natural Sciences and Oceanography, Department of Marine and Environmental Sciences, and Dr. Thomas Wuerzer of the Huizenga College of Business and Entrepreneurship.
February 22, 2017 (Source: FIU) - Researchers are taking a step back to answer the question whether long-term studies are helping save plants, animals and the places they call home. The global answer is yes. FIU researchers are gathering data in the Florida Everglades that provide critical information needed for restoration and conservation. They’ve been doing this for more than a decade.
The Everglades is made up of different ecosystems, including swamps, hardwood hammocks, mangrove forests, pine rocklands and sawgrass marshes. Their interconnectivity makes them especially susceptible to changes in the environment.
FIU’s long-term approach to studying the Everglades allows scientists to understand how it works, and it allows them to predict how it will respond to changes in the future. For more than 16 years, scientists in FIU’s Florida Coastal Everglades Long Term Ecological Research (FCE LTER) Program have been studying how water, climate and people affect the Everglades. Their efforts have resulted in more than 500 peer-reviewed journal articles to date.
In a new paper, FIU researchers outline the value of international long-term research, how it has played into what is known about the Everglades and other wetlands, and how it can help solve current and future ecological problems. It is part of a four-paper special feature on international long term ecological research published in Ecosphere.
February 15, 2017 (Source: UM/RSMAS) - Last year’s devastating category-5 hurricane—Matthew—may be one of many past examples of a tropical storm fueled by massive rings of warm water that exist in the upper reaches of the Caribbean Sea.
In a study conducted in the region two years prior to when Matthew’s trekked across the Caribbean Sea, the research team in the Upper Ocean Dynamics Laboratory at the University of Miami (UM) Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science (RSMAS) deployed 55 aircraft ocean instruments from the National Oceanographic Atmospheric Administration’s WP-3D aircraft. The purpose of the scientific mission was to measure ocean temperature, salinity, and currents to understand the structure of these warm-water eddies.
The science team obtained vital information about the physical characteristics within one large warm-water eddy, which likely originated from the North Brazil Current, and analyzed its potential influence on sub-surface ocean conditions during the passage of tropical cyclones.
When analyzing the data they found a barrier layer, an upper ocean feature created by the Amazon-Orinoco freshwater river outflow, that makes mixing in the upper ocean waters less efficient during wind events. This feature, and the fact that warm ocean eddies are known to assist in the intensification of hurricanes due to deep warm thermal layers, lead the researchers to theorize that the barrier layer within a warm ocean eddy may result in an even more favorable upper ocean environment for hurricane intensification.
“Our study is important because tropical cyclone intensity forecasts for several past hurricanes over the Caribbean Sea have under-predicted rapid intensification events over warm oceanic features,” said Johna Rudzin, a PhD student at the UM Rosenstiel School and lead author of the study.
February 13, 2017 (Source: FSU) - A Florida State University researcher has drawn a link between the impact of climate change and untreated drinking water on the rate of gastrointestinal illness in children. Assistant Professor of Geography Chris Uejio has published a first-of-its-kind study, “Drinking-water treatment, climate change, and childhood gastrointestinal illness projections for northern Wisconsin (USA) communities drinking untreated groundwater,” in Hydrogeology Journal. The study explores the benefits of additional drinking water treatment compared to the risks created by climate change. “Most people may not realize this, but there are about 20 million people in the country who access drinking water that isn’t treated,” Uejio said. “These households are particularly vulnerable to rainfall events and contamination events where disease causing pathogens can get in their drinking water sources.”
February 13, 2017 (Source: FSU) - A Florida State University researcher is delving into the complexities of exactly how permafrost thawing in the Earth’s most northern regions is cycling back into the atmosphere as carbon dioxide and further fueling climate change. Answer: It has a lot to do with tiny little bugs called microbes and little to do with sunlight.
Assistant Professor of Earth, Ocean and Atmospheric Science Robert Spencer and a team of researchers traveled to Siberia from 2012 to 2015 to better understand how thawing permafrost affected the carbon cycle. They specifically investigated how the vast amounts of carbon stored in this permafrost transferred to the atmosphere as carbon dioxide.
In a paper published in the American Geophysical Union’s Journal of Geophysical Research-Biogeosciences, Spencer along with Aron Stubbins from the University of Georgia explain that bacteria — or microbes — were the dominant consumer of this carbon. They are gobbling up the carbon from the thawing permafrost and spitting it back out as carbon dioxide. This is in contrast to sunlight, which could also break down the carbon and turn it into carbon dioxide. In their study, researchers found sunlight converted little if any permafrost thawed carbon to carbon dioxide, whereas microbes were shown to rapidly convert permafrost carbon to carbon dioxide.
January 23, 2017 (Source: FSU) - A Florida State University researcher is taking a deep dive into the carbon cycle and investigating how carbon moves from the ocean surface to greater depths and then remains there for hundreds of years. Those findings could be critical as scientists work to better understand climate change and how much carbon the Earth’s atmosphere and oceans can store. In a paper published today in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS), FSU Assistant Professor Michael Stukel explains how carbon is transported to deeper waters and why it is happening more rapidly in certain areas of the ocean. “Algae in the surface ocean contribute half of the Earth’s photosynthesis, but most of the carbon dioxide they take up gets released back to the atmosphere when they die,” Stukel said. “The only way for this carbon to stay out of the atmosphere for a long period of time is to get it into the deep ocean. If it’s in the deep ocean, it can stay put for hundreds to 1,000 years. As the climate gets warmer, will the ocean take up more carbon dioxide or less? That’s what we ultimately need to know. But first we have to figure out how this natural process of oceanic carbon storage works.”
January 5, 2017 (Source: UM) - New climate model projections of the world’s coral reefs reveal which reefs will be hit first by annual coral bleaching, an event that poses the gravest threat to one of the Earth’s most important ecosystems. These high-resolution projections, based on global climate models, predict when and where annual coral bleaching will occur. The projections show that reefs in Taiwan and around the Turks and Caicos archipelago will be among the world’s first to experience annual bleaching. Other reefs, like those off the coast of Bahrain, in Chile and in French Polynesia, will be hit decades later, according to research recently published in the journal Scientific Reports. "Bleaching that takes place every year will invariably cause major changes in the ecological function of coral reef ecosystems," said study leader Ruben van Hooidonk of NOAA and the University of Miami. “Further, annual bleaching will greatly reduce the capacity of coral reefs to provide goods and services, such as fisheries and coastal protection, to human communities.”
December 13, 2016 (Source: FSU) - Deep stores of carbon in northern peatlands may be safe from rising temperatures, according to a team of researchers from several U.S.-based institutions. And that is good news for now, the researchers said. Florida State University research scientist Rachel Wilson and University of Oregon graduate student Anya Hopple are the first authors on a new study published today in Nature Communications. The study details experiments suggesting that carbon stored in peat — a highly organic material found in marsh or damp regions — may not succumb to the Earth’s warming as easily as scientists thought. That means if these northern peatlands — found in the upper half of the northern hemisphere — remain flooded, a substantial amount of carbon will not be released into the atmosphere.
November 28, 2016 - Dr. Ni-Bin Chang, FCI executive board member and professor at the University of Central Florida, traveled to Brussels, Belgium, this month to receive the Blaise Pascal Medal in Earth and Environmental Sciences from the European Academy of Sciences. The award recognizes Dr. Chang's outstanding contributions to Environmental Sustainability, Green Engineering, and Systems Analysis. Only three scholars worldwide are selected for this award each year. Details may be found at http://www.eurasc.org/medals/pb_medals_16.asp
November 28, 2016 (Source: Nancy Schneider, Southeast Florida Regional Climate Change Compact) - Engaged. Dedicated. Involved. These three words describe all who participated in the Southeast Florida Regional Climate Change Compact’s Resilient Redesign III on November 14-17 at the University of Miami, School of Architecture. Professionals and experts who came from the private sector, academia, and NGOs, as well as students from University of Miami and Florida Atlantic University, all volunteered their time to collaborate with public sector practitioners on addressing the challenges in three areas of Southeast Florida: Arch Creek (Miami-Dade County), Shorecrest (City of Miami) and Lower Matecumbe Key (Village of Islamorada).
Resilient Redesign began in 2014 when the Dutch Consulate approached the Southeast Florida Regional Climate Change Compact to hold a design charrette addressing the challenges in Southeast Florida related to flooding caused by sea level rise, high(er) tides, and extreme rain events. In the Netherlands, a country where 26% of land area is below sea level and 50% is three feet elevation or less, they have perfected “living with water” over the centuries. This four-day event began with participants donning their flip flops or rubber boots and wading through the brackish water on the tour of the affected areas, which coincided with a King Tide causing the streets to look more like canals. Due to high levels of water on many streets, city services were interrupted, residents were cut off from driving out of their driveways or from taking their usual routes. The teams reunited on the second day to begin discussions on what could be done through design to address flooding, overstressed infrastructure, improve residents’ quality of life, and improve economic opportunities. The teams worked late into the nights, developing ideas with input from experts in hydrology, land use law, infrastructure and natural systems.
In addition to living with water, all teams had a second theme: integrating nature and natural systems into the designs. Unfortunately in the past, nature was considered something to be bulldozed over and forced to disappear with development in Florida. Much of this is what is causing the problems today with developed tracts in what was once wetlands or riverbeds.To allow for greater resiliency over time, charrette leader Sonia Chao, director of the university’s Center for Urban and Community Design, advised designs for the short-term, mid-term and long-term. This helps ensure that short-term solutions don’t get in the way of the mid-term, and similarly for the mid-term considerations to not inhibit the long-term goals. By incorporating legal options into the design choices, short-term considerations become more feasible and creating the opportunity for long-term natural systems solutions.
November 14, 2016 (Source: FIU) - When it comes to storing carbon, scientists have put a price tag on the value of mangroves in Everglades National Park and it’s in the billions. Based on a scientific cost estimate, the stored carbon is worth between $2 billion and $3.4 billion, the researchers found. It is a relatively small price when considering the cost to society if the carbon currently stored in these mangroves were ever released into the atmosphere, according to the researchers at FIU who co-authored the study.
"Although the Everglades National Park is a protected national treasure, the National Parks Service doesn’t have much control over freshwater flowing into the park," said Mahadev Bhat, co-author of the study and professor in FIU's Department of Earth and Environment. “If there isn’t enough freshwater flowing through the Everglades, we may eventually lose some of the mangroves. And once you let stored carbon out, that same carbon can lead to increased global warming and cost society a lot more.”
In addition to removing excess carbon dioxide from the air, mangroves provide a variety of other benefits, including flood control, storm protection and maintaining water quality. The billion-dollar price tag reflects the cost to preserve the park’s mangroves and their ability to hold organic carbon intact by restoring freshwater flow to the areas that need it the most.
November 10, 2016 (Source: UF) - Global climate change has already impacted every aspect of life on Earth, from genes to entire ecosystems, according to a new University of Florida study. The paper appears today in the journal Science.
"We now have evidence that, with only a ~1 degree Celsius of warming globally, major impacts are already being felt in natural systems," said study lead author Brett Scheffers, an assistant professor in the department of wildlife, ecology and conservation in UF’s Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences. "Genes are changing, species’ physiology and physical features such as body size are changing, species are shifting their ranges and we see clear signs of entire ecosystems under stress, all in response to changes in climate on land and in the ocean."
November 2, 2016 (Source: UM/RSMAS) - Severe weather events like Superstorm Sandy are revealing the vulnerability of New York City and other coastal communities, particularly as sea levels continue to rise. In his lab at the University of Miami Rosenstiel School, Ben Kirtman is using one of the world’s largest supercomputers to more accurately predict the risk of severe flooding—in the upcoming weeks and decades. In this ’Cane Talk, Professor Kirtman describes what his research means for cities across the globe.
Ben Kirtman is a professor of atmospheric sciences at the University of Miami’s Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science. He leads UM’s Cooperative Institute for Marine and Atmospheric Studies and the Center for Computational Science’s Climate and Environmental Hazards Program. Known internationally for using complex computer models to bring unprecedented detail to climate change measurement, Professor Kirtman also serves as an advisor to the United Nations and other multinational organizations.
November 2, 2016 (Source: Yale Environment 360) - A steady increase in sea levels is pushing saltwater into U.S. wetlands, killing trees from Florida to as far north as New Jersey. But with sea level projected to rise by as much as six feet this century, the destruction of coastal forests is expected to become a worsening problem worldwide.
A new Yale Environment 360 article features research conducted by University of Florida watershed ecologist David Kaplan and Ph.D. candidate Katie Glodzik in the Withlacoochee Gulf Preserve, on the Big Bend coast of northwestern Florida.
November 1, 2016 - Following the First UNESCO Field Workshop in New York and Miami, and after six months of international coordinated efforts, the organizing parties, The UNESCO CHAIR in Sustainable Urban Quality and Culture, notably in Africa; the Universita’ La Sapienza of Rome, Italy; and the Consortium from Hydro-Generated Urbanism, University of Florida US convened in Rome.
November 1, 2016 - Dr. Jennifer Jurado presented an invited Keynote Talk at the 2016 China-US Joint Symposium entitled, “International Nexus of Food, Energy, Water and Soil” held in Yixing, Jiangsu Province, China on October 26-29. The title of her Keynote address was “Building Community Resilience through Integrated Natural Resource and Urban Planning in Broward County, Florida” and included the FCI-Compact partnership as an example of how communities and academia are working together. Jennifer is one of the Founding Steering Committee Members of Southeast Florida Climate Compact, directs the Broward County Environmental Planning and Community Resilience Division, and was among 12 people the White House identified as "Champions of Change" for preparing their communities for the consequences of climate change. While at the event in China, Jennifer met with Dr. James Jones, the Director of the Florida Climate Institute, who is now serving a 2-year term as the Engineering Director for NSF’s INFEWS (Food, Energy, Water Nexus) Program.
This symposium was sponsored by the US National Science Foundation and the National Science Foundation of China, and was hosted by Nanjing University. One of the goals of that workshop was to explore ways to increase collaboration between scientists and engineers in China and the USA.
October 31, 2016 - Dr. Andrea Dutton (UF) spoke to an audience of mayors and city innovators at the CityLab 2016 summit in Miami on October 24th about considering the longer term future of their cities when planning for adaptations to sea-level rise. CityLab is a venue for Mayors of cities from around the globe to come together to discuss innovative solutions for cities, sponsored by Bloomberg Philanthropies, The Atlantic, and The Aspen Institute. This year’s events featured mayors from Washington D.C., Detroit, Miami, Mexico City (Mexico), Bogota (Colombia) among others. Sustainability and adaptation in the context of ongoing climate change and sea-level rise were hot topics of discussion during the two-day event. A video of Dr. Dutton's talk can be viewed here: https://youtu.be/wbTzdQuSoHM
October 31, 2016 - Dr. O.S. Mbuya was recently invited to India as one of the keynote speakers at the International Conference on Food, Water, Energy Nexus in Arena of Climate Change representing Florida A&M University (FAMU) and the Florida Climate Institute (FCI). Prior to the meeting, he visited the State Government of Gujarat where he met with the high ranking State officials, including the Honorable Chief Secretary of Gujarat (Dr. J.N. Singh), the Honorable Minister of Agriculture of Gujarat (Shri Chimanbhai Saparia). Accompanying Dr. Mbuya to the State Government headquarters were the Vice Chancellor of Anand Agricultural University (Dr. N.C. Patel), the Vice Chancellor of Junagadh Agricultural University (Dr. A.R. Pathak) and the Executive Chairman of NCCSD (Dr. Kirit Shelat. Topics discussed under the umbrella of FCI included Climate Change, ClimateSmart Agriculture and International collaborative research.
The Honorable Minister of Agriculture of the Government of India (Shri Parshottam Rupala) and the Principal Secretary of Ministry of Agriculture of the Government of India (Dr. Sanjay Prasad) attended the International Conference on Food, Water, Energy Nexus in Arena of Climate Change at Anand Agricultural University, and they both echoed the significance of partnership between FAMU/FCI and the Government of India. Currently there are pending MoUs between FAMU and Anand Agricultural University, Junagadh Agricultural University, University of Mumbai and India Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR). ICAR is a federal agency which oversees all 73 agricultural universities in India. The Government of the State of Gujarat and the Government of India are very receptive and supportive of the FAMU and FCI-India Initiative.
Next month, Dr. Mbuya will travel to Marakkesh, Morocco to represent FAMU and FCI at the United Nations Forum for Climate Change Convention (UNFCCC) and COP22. Last year, he presented an FCI poster at the UNFCCC/COP21 in Paris where he highlighted the scientific milestones of FCI. Institutions of the FCI consortium are hereby requested to suggest and/or submit any material they would like to be presented at the COP22 in Morocco.
October 28, 2016 (By Hannah O. Brown, UF/SNRE) - In less than a year, Russell Anderson plans to be working hands-on, surveying coastal planning projects worldwide. Anderson is a second-year master’s student studying sustainable development, and he is one of a number of students who have decided to pursue UF’s Concentration in Climate Science, an interdisciplinary concentration through the School of Natural Resources and Environment and in collaboration with the Florida Climate Institute. “Internationally, everybody is really trying to plan for the population of what will happen by 2050, with 70 percent of people being in low-lying urban areas,” Anderson said. “That’s over 7 billion people, coast-to-coastline, all stuck in urban centers.” Through taking classes within the concentration, Anderson has gained professional skills and insight into climate change issues on a global scale. “It really made sense based on my professional interest long term, and it was also a chance to really get educated about [climate change effects] that we are already starting to see happening in certain areas,” Anderson said.
The idea for the UF Climate Science Concentration was first conceived by faculty who were considering the notion of establishing a certificate program, geared toward professionals. With the basic structure of the concentration already in motion, SNRE Director Tom Frazer suggested FCI and SNRE switch their focus, in the short term, to enhancing the skills of graduate students instead. “I suggested that there was actually a more immediate need to offer those courses to our students rather than the place-based professionals,” Frazer said. “And a concentration, at the time, was a more effective way to start to put a focus on climate in the curriculum.”
The FCI faculty advisory committee, which is made up of professors from biology, geology, SNRE, forestry, Latin American studies and geography, approved the first list of courses for the concentration in the fall of 2014. The concentration is divided into four categories of study: principles of climate science, system-specific climate science, quantitative methods and human dimensions. Students pursuing the concentration are required to take at least one course from each category, for a total of 12 credit hours.
Carolyn Cox, UF coordinator for the Florida Climate Institute, said the human-dimensions component of the program is just as important as the scientific training. “There’s so many people who work in different disciplines who use climate science, and there is always this need for how to talk to people about it,” she said. While it has become increasingly important for researchers to effectively communicate about their findings, Cox believes there is still resistance from many scientists who prefer to focus simply on the science. However, Cox said that the problem with this reluctance is that some of these scientists lack the skillset to see through the tactics that others use to discredit their research. “Even scientists, people that are very pro-climate science and advocate climate science, they still fall into that trap of calling it a debate,” Cox said. “It’s not a debate. A debate is when there are actually two sides to a story. There’s not really two sides here. There’s a manufactured side and a real side.” Cox hopes that the Climate Science Concentration can help teach the skills needed to accurately represent climate-related research even when confronted with skepticism and denial. “People need to know how not to fall into those traps,” she said, “how to stay dignified, not fall into the he-said-she-said garbage and not embarrass themselves.”
For Frazer, it’s particularly important to provide the opportunity for SNRE students to focus on climate science through a concentration, because it gives those students a chance to specialize, making their skills more marketable in the professional world. “There is a real risk in getting an interdisciplinary degree where the emphasis is simply on breadth,” he said, “but one of the ways that you deal with depth and the ability to convince a potential employer, whether it’s in an academic setting, a government setting or some other work-related environment, is that you actually have a focus area.” Frazer said having concentrations is one way for SNRE students to showcase the particular skills they acquire while pursuing their degree. “It provides depth,” he said. “Recognizable, identifiable, demonstrable depth in a subject area that complements the broader interdisciplinary degree.” Future plans for the concentration include the possibility of offering a travel stipend to students who are interested in attending climate-science conferences, workshops and giving presentations. Cox said she is still hoping to expand the program to include a certificate, allowing professionals as well as students to become more aware of the science and better able to communicate it.
October 24, 2016 (Source: FAU/CES) - King Tide brought sunny day flooding to homes and businesses in South Florida this year, and communities want solutions. US Congressman Ted Deutch partnered with Dr. Colin Polsky, director of Florida Center for Environmental Studies at Florida Atlantic University, to bring awareness to the issue. Along with City of Fort Lauderdale commissioners, the Congressman received a briefing on impacts and adaptation strategies from private sector partners First Green Bank, Olive & Judd, and Florida Luxurious Properties, as well as the US Geological Survey, Broward County, Mitigat.com, Hollywood Lakes Civic Association, and Florida Atlantic University. The media were paying attention. Local CBS and ABC television stations covered the story, as did Sun Sentinel. “If standing in this water on a beautiful South Florida morning doesn’t tell us that it’s time we start investing in environmental infrastructure to protect our communities, then I don’t think anything will,” said Deutch. - NPR affiliate WLRN
September 26, 2016 (Source: FAMU) - Today, Florida A&M University (FAMU) announced the receipt of a $15.4 million award over five years from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Educational Partnership Program (EPP) to establish the Center for Coastal and Marine Ecosystems (CCME). The new award will allow the FAMU-led partnership to make profound national impacts on coastal and marine ecosystems education, science, and policy.
FAMU Distinguished Professor Larry Robinson, Ph.D., will serve as the CCME director and principal investigator. The interdisciplinary team at FAMU will include faculty and students from the College of Education, College of Science and Technology, College of Social Sciences, Arts, and Humanities, School of Business and Industry, and School of the Environment.
September 22, 2016 - We are tremendously saddened to inform the Florida Climate Institute community that Dr. James O'Brien, Professor Emeritus of Meteorology and Physical Oceanography at Florida State University and the founder of FSU's Center for Ocean-Atmospheric Prediction Studies (COAPS), passed away on September 20. Dr. O'Brien was a founding member of the Board of Directors of the Florida Climate Institute and a founding leader of the Southeast Climate Consortium. He served as State Climatologist of Florida at the Florida Climate Center from 1999 to 2006. Our memory of him remains as someone who was exuberant, approachable, and deeply committed to the mentorship of young scholars.
September 12, 2016 (Source: UF/IFAS) - Researchers with the University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences are closer to helping producers better meet global food demand, now that they’ve combined simulation and statistical methods to help them predict how temperature affects wheat crops worldwide. A global team of scientists, led by those at UF/IFAS, used two different simulation methods and one statistical method to predict the impact of rising temperatures on global wheat production, and all came to similar estimates. This finding, published in a study in the journal Nature Climate Change, is critical in predicting how much wheat and other crops we’ll need to feed the world, said Senthold Asseng, a UF/IFAS professor of agricultural and biological engineering and leader of this study.
August 25, 2016 - The insights generated by FAU’s Arctic-Florida Sea-Level Rise Summit in May 2016 mark an important stage in the process of community engagement on sea-level rise and coastal erosion. “Adaptation Pathways 1.0” summarizes the 3rd Sea-Level Rise Summit organized by the Florida Center for Environmental Studies at Florida Atlantic University. The event, subtitled “Connected Futures from Alaska to Florida,” was held May 3-5, 2016, at the Ft. Lauderdale Hyatt Pier 66. In recent years, many conferences and meetings have identified the problems we face, and outlined some theoretical solutions. What we lacked was guidance for implementing specific adaptations. The goal of the Summit was to produce a first-generation roadmap for adaptation, by translating our knowledge and ideas into action. Our resulting Adaptation Pathways (see Section III of this report) have emerged as the product of intense and sustained interactions with Summit participants, representing a broad cross-section of society.
August 22, 2016 - A University of Alaska Fairbanks-led research project co-authored by Dr. Jeff Chanton (FSU) has provided the first modern evidence of a landscape-level permafrost carbon feedback, in which thawing permafrost releases ancient carbon as climate-warming greenhouse gases.
The project, led by UAF researcher Katey Walter Anthony, studied lakes in Alaska, Canada, Sweden and Siberia where permafrost thaw surrounding lakes led to lake shoreline expansion during the past 60 years. Using historical aerial photo analysis, soil and methane sampling, and radiocarbon dating, the project quantified for the first time the strength of the present-day permafrost carbon feedback to climate warming. Although a large permafrost carbon emission is expected to occur imminently, the results of this study show nearly no sign that it has begun.
August 19, 2016 - Coastal ecosystems worldwide are feeling the heat of climate change. In the Southeastern U.S., salt marshes have endured massive grass die-offs as a result of intense drought, which can affect everything from fisheries to water quality. Now, new research shows that a mutualistic relationship -- where two organisms benefit from each other's activities -- between ribbed mussels and salt marsh grasses may play a critical role in helping salt marshes bounce back from extreme climate events such as drought.
The results, reported this week in the journal Nature Communications, found that mussels piled up in mounds around salt grass stems helped to protect the grasses by improving water storage around their roots and reducing soil salinity. With the mussels' help, marshes can recover from drought in less than a decade. Without their help, it can take more than a century.
"This is a very good example of how the diversity of life in a salt marsh promotes resilience to climate and environmental change," said David Garrison, program director in the National Science Foundation (NSF) Division of Ocean Sciences, which co-funded the research with NSF's Division of Environmental Biology.
"It's a story of mutual benefit between marsh grass and mussels," said Christine Angelini, a scientist at the University of Florida and lead author of the paper. The mussels, she said, "protect then accelerate the healing of drought-stricken marshes."
August 3, 2016 - A new podcast is now available focusing on climate change adaptation. Learn how America is adapting to this challenge through informative and lively discussions with a mix of adaptation experts. Listen in as Doug Parsons talks to the scientists, planners, NGOs, and elected officials who have something to say about adapting to climate change. The podcast can be downloaded at America Adapts web site via iTunes, Google Play and more.
In Episode #4, Doug Parsons talks with Bob Glazer, research scientist with the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, about how Florida is adapting to climate change.
August 1, 2016 - Dr. Lydia Stefanova (FSU) will be collaborating with biologists from the USGS Wetland and Aquatic Research Center on a project entitled "Developing Weather and Climate-Based Environmental Indices for a Common Framework to Model Survival, Reproductive and Movement Rates of Sea Turtles, Gulf Sturgeon and Manatees in the Northern Gulf of Mexico (GoM)."
The research was funded by USGS to identify specific measures (indices) of climate stressors (extreme cold/heat/drought/flood during key periods of the year) that are pertinent to sea turtles,Gulf sturgeon, and manatees in the northern GoM. These measures in combination with historical data for the species' populations will be used to develop models for their survival, reproduction and movement. Eventually, these models, in combination with climate projections for the climate stressor indices, will be used to make projections for the future species populations under projected climate change.
August 1, 2016 - A study conducted by a research team including members from University of Florida, Texas A&M University, and Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University shows that business vulnerability to flooding will be escalated substantially by sea level rise. The findings show that considerable amount of areas, businesses, and road networks would be exposed to highest flood-risk zones due to sea level rise. To quantify the vulnerability of businesses to environmental hazards, the team established a conceptual framework of business vulnerability index incorporating business characteristics, infrastructure factors, and other indicators. A mapped index was displayed in Bay County, Florida.
August 1, 2016 - With its latest update, NOAA's International Comprehensive Ocean–Atmosphere Data Set Release 3.0 (ICOADS R3.0) now incorporates a wide range of new and improved data and metadata sources. This new release also fosters closer integration with the oceanographic community by extending ICOADS observations to include near-surface variables—like salinity, nutrients, and dissolved carbonate chemistry—for the first time.
The Marine Data Center at FSU's Center for Ocean-Atmopsheric Prediction Studies has contributed to ICOADS R3.0. A manuscript (ICOADS Release 3.0: a major update to the historical marine climate record) detailing the new release and the contributions by the MDC (particularly providing a subset of high-quality research vessel observations from the SAMOS initiative) was just published in early view by the International Journal of Climatology. Mr. Shawn Smith, the Marine Data Center director, is a co-author on this manuscript and is the lead author of the full ICOADS release 3.0 documentation. Jocelyn Elya, MDC lead programmer, developed the software to support submitting SAMOS data into this release of ICOADS.
ICOADS is the world’s most extensive surface marine meteorological and oceanographic data collection. Building on extensive national and international partnerships, ICOADS provides users with easy access to many different data sources in a consistent format. Data sources range from early non-instrumental ship observations to more recent measurements from automatic systems, such as moored buoys and surface drifters.
ICOADS supports a variety of climate products including the global surface temperature record, winds, pressure, humidity, clouds, and estimates of air–sea exchange. We also use it to develop many other well-used sources of marine climate information, including reanalyses and gridded analyses of sea surface temperature.
July 28, 2016 (Source: UM RSMAS) - A new study by an international team of scientists reveals the exact timing of the onset of the modern monsoon pattern in the Maldives 12.9 million years ago, and its connection to past climate changes and coral reefs in the region. The analysis of sediment cores provides direct physical evidence of the environmental conditions that sparked the monsoon conditions that exist today around the low-lying island nation and the Indian subcontinent.
In Nov. 2015, University of Miami (UM) Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science geoscientist Gregor Eberli, along with his co-chief scientist Christian Betzler and an international team of 31 scientists from 15 countries, embarked on an eight-week expedition to the Maldives aboard the research vesselJOIDES Resolution. The scientific team on International Ocean Discovery Program (IODP) Expedition 359, which included UM geochemist Peter Swart and sedimentologist Anna Ling, extracted 3,097 meters of sediment cores that contain the history of the monsoon that is the most intense annually recurring climatic element on Earth. The monsoon system supplies moisture to the Indian subcontinent, which is important for the human population and vegetation in the region, as well as marine ecosystem in the surrounding seas.
July 27, 2016 - The International Commission on Statistical Hydrology of the International Association of Hydrological Sciences (ICSH-IAHS) is awarding the 2016 Statistics in Hydrology (STAHY) Best Paper Award to Jose D. Salas of Colorado State University and Jayantha Obeysekera of the South Florida Water Management District for the following research paper:
This is a new IAHS prize, recently introduced by the ICSH-IAHS Commission, that awards the most promising work in Statistical Hydrology among a large number of papers published in hydrological journals. The STAHY Best Paper Award 2016 will be assigned during the STAHY'16 Conference in Quebec City, September 2016.
July 27, 2016 - The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) has awarded $380,476 for a project led by researchers at FSU and NOAA/AOML titled, "Development of New Drifter Technology for Observing Currents at the Ocean Surface." Drs. Steve Morey, Nico Wienders, Mark Bourassa, and Dmitry Dukhovskoy (all of FSU), as well as Dr. Rick Lumpkin (NOAA/AOML), will develop and test a new satellite tracked drifter design for measuring currents at the very surface of the ocean. Typically, observations of "surface" currents really measure the current over the upper several meters, but these currents may be substantially different than the currents right at the surface. Through field experiments with these drifters together with more traditional upper ocean current observation methods, the researchers will gain a better understanding of the vertical structure of currents near the ocean surface. This work will benefit pollutant and debris tracking, air-sea flux measurements and modeling, and provide a tool for validating surface current measurements from future remote sensing instruments. The new drifter technology is anticipated to become available for widespread use and commercialization.
July 27, 2016 - Dr. Andrea Dutton (University of Florida) has been elected a Fellow of the Geological Society of America (GSA). GSA members are nominated by existing GSA Fellows in recognition of their distinguished contributions to the geosciences through such avenues as publications, applied research, teaching, administration of geological programs, contributing to the public awareness of geology, leadership of professional organizations, and taking on editorial, bibliographic, and library responsibilities.
Nominator Benjamin Horton (Rutgers University) said of Dr. Dutton: "Andrea displays enthusiasm and energy, as well as an encyclopedic knowledge of geology. She quotes the primary geoscience literature at will both historic as well as modern. This plus her creativity to isolate the basic mechanisms of sea level change is a rare and unbeatable combination."
For the study, FIHI developed an innovative public health framework that links socio-economic vulnerability and health risks to climate change effects.
A result of two years of cross-sector research and outreach, the FIHI final report entitled Health and Sea-level rise: Impacts on South Florida includes a detailed discussion of the study’s multiple methodologies as well as a toolkit that can be used to inform adaptation, mitigation and infrastructure planning.
July 7, 2016 (Source: UM RSMAS) - Scientists at the University of Miami (UM) Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science are taking advantage of this year’s dust season to study the aging of these aerosol particles that travel across the Atlantic Ocean from Africa to Florida. The study will take place from 1 July to 31 August and will help improve weather and climate forecasts, including our understanding of the early development of tropical storms.
July 5, 2016 - A new reconstruction of Antarctic ocean temperatures around the time the dinosaurs disappeared 66 million years ago supports the idea that one of the planet's biggest mass extinctions was due to the combined effects of volcanic eruptions and an asteroid impact.
Two University of Michigan researchers and University of Florida colleague Andrea Dutton found two abrupt warming spikes in ocean temperatures that coincide with two previously documented extinction pulses near the end of the Cretaceous Period. The first extinction pulse has been tied to massive volcanic eruptions in India, the second to the impact of an asteroid or comet on Mexico's Yucatan Peninsula.
Both events were accompanied by warming episodes the team found by analyzing the chemical composition of fossil shells using a recently developed technique called the carbonate clumped isotope paleothermometer.
Image caption: The preservation of Cretaceous mollusk fossils from Seymour Island is excellent, with shells preserving original mother-of-pearl material as in these two specimens of Eselaevitrigonia regina. Image credit: Sierra V. Petersen
June 28, 2016 (Source: UM RSMAS) - As Louisiana’s wetlands continue to disappear at an alarming rate, a new study has pinpointed the man-made structures that disrupt the natural water flow and threaten these important ecosystems. The findings have important implications for New Orleans and other coastal cities that rely on coastal wetlands to serve as buffer from destructive extreme weather events. Scientists at the University of Miami (UM) Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science found that man-made canals limit the natural tidal inundation process in roughly 45 percent of the state’s coastline, and disruptions from levees accounted for 15 percent. “This study demonstrates that human infrastructure development along coastal areas have long-term consequences on the ability of coastal wetlands to adapt to sea-level rise and other processes that reduce the size of coastal wetlands,” said Talib Oliver-Cabrera, the study’s first author and a UM Rosenstiel School Ph.D. student.
June 22, 2016 - A major climate event millions of years ago that caused substantial change to the ocean’s ecological systems may hold clues as to how the Earth will respond to future climate change, a Florida State University researcher said.
In a new study published in Earth and Planetary Science Letters, Assistant Professor of Geology Jeremy Owens explains that parts of the ocean became inhospitable for some organisms as the Earth’s climate warmed 94 million years ago. As the Earth warmed, several natural elements — what we think of as vitamins — depleted, causing some organisms to die off or greatly decrease in numbers.
The elements that faded away were vanadium and molybdenum, important trace metals that serve as nutrients for ocean life. Molybdenum in particular is used by bacteria to help promote nitrogen fixation, which is essential for all forms of life.
“These trace metals were drawn down to levels below where primary producing organisms, the base of the ocean food chain, can survive,” Owens said. “This change inhibited biology.”
June 22, 2016 - University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences researchers hope to reduce possible pollutants emanating from soils in Florida cattle ranches by using a $710,000 USDA grant to study soil microbes.
In the new study, UF/IFAS researchers will use lab and field studies to investigate how pasture management and factors such as temperature and rainfall affect soil microbes. They’ll also look for genetic markers to get a glimpse into microbial identity. Genetic markers are genes or short sequences of DNA scientists use to find other genes on a genetic map.
“The goal is to put together a model that can predict the release of greenhouse gases like carbon dioxide and nitrous oxide from soils under a climate that is expected to be warmer and experience more extreme dry and wet periods across the Southeast,” said Stefan Gerber, a UF/IFAS assistant professor in soil and water sciences and one of the investigators on the new study.
June 1, 2016 - The Summer 2016 issue of the University of Florida's Explore magazine is now out and features the Florida Climate Institute at UF Director, co-Director, and several affiliated faculty. See http://explore.research.ufl.edu/ for the online version of several of the stories that the magazine features. The climate-themed issue includes stories on sea-level rise, coastal planning, agriculture, energy efficiency, economics, design, health, coastal forestry, and humanities.
May 24, 2016 (Source: UM RSMAS) - Paquita Zuidema, a scientist at the University of Miami (UM) Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science, is leading an upcoming international research campaign to study a significant contributor to regional climate warming - smoke. The first-of-its-kind research experiment begins on June 1, 2016 from Ascension Island in the southeastern Atlantic Ocean. The experiment, called LASIC (Layered Atlantic Smoke Interactions with Clouds), is part of a broader international scientific collaboration led by the Atmospheric Radiation Measurement (ARM) Climate Research Facility deployment. The broad collaboration is detailed in a new article in the July Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society.
May 2, 2016 - In May 2016, Professor Greg Kiker, Department of Agricultural & Biological Engineering at UF, will visit the University of Oxford Environmental Change Institute (Oxford-ECI) and its research partners, as the first FCI UF-UK fellow, to establish a framework to integrate models from Oxford-ECI and UF into more localized household-scale models for analysis in six countries in Africa and Southeast Asia. This collaboration will help UF, Oxford and the International Livestock and Research Institute (ILRI) to focus research and outreach towards sustainable livestock systems. Dr. Kiker will work with Drs. John Ingram, Steven Lord, Joost Vervoort and Ariella Helfgott (Oxford-ECI) to translate recently developed climate change scenarios and household vulnerability research into both conceptual frameworks and computational models for west and east Africa. This effort is part of the newly established Feed the Future Innovation Lab for Livestock Systems at UF to focus research and outreach towards sustainable livestock systems.
Food systems exist in an increasingly unpredictable and inequitable world as climate drivers and market dynamics do not often align for the benefit of local livelihoods. Livestock sectors also share this challenge as increasing international demand for livestock products does not translate to increased growth opportunities at the household level.
April 25, 2016 - With a $5,000,000 grant from the National Science Foundation, Florida International University will establish the Center for Aquatic Chemistry and the Environment (CREST). The 5-year project will be led by Todd A. Crowl. Additional researchers are Rudolf Jaffe, Rene M. Price, Shu-Ching Chen, Laird H. Kramer.
Human-derived environmental contaminants consist of antibiotics and pharmaceuticals, mercury, black carbon, and fossil fuels. These stressors are recognized as having significant effects on ecosystems and biota as well as on human wellbeing. It is critical to understand the biogeochemical processes that govern the fate of these compounds and their impacts on the ecosystem. Center for Aquatic Chemistry and the Environment research will address the sources, transport, transformation and ecosystem responses to contaminants, pollutants and other natural stressors, under changing land-use and environmental conditions.
The Center for Aquatic Chemistry and the Environment will generate significant new knowledge regarding contaminants and pollutants in aquatic environments, as well as produce innovative methodologies for detecting and assessing contaminant quantities and impacts, including the use of molecular detection techniques. The proposed research will advance current efforts on the biological effects, transport, transformation and distribution of contaminants in the environment into new collaborative research areas that investigate the sources and transport of contaminants and pollutants in aquatic systems.
The Center articulates three research subprojects organized around environmental chemistry, biogeochemistry, ecology and data synthesis and modeling as they pertain to regional water resources. The first subproject will advance the effectiveness of approaches for the analysis of traditional pollutants, develop methodologies for the characterization and quantification of previously unknown contaminants and extend the applicability of molecular biology methodologies to assess environmental stressors to aquatic organisms across land-use boundaries. The second subproject uses new sensing techniques to determine biogeochemical cycles including contaminant sources, storage, transport and transformations. The third research subproject develops data analytic methods to enable synthesis across large, complex data sets to allow holistic effects assessment for understanding South Florida's aquatic ecosystem.
The Center for Aquatic Chemistry and the Environment will establish innovative opportunities for students to experience authentic and socially relevant environmental research and foster their development as future STEM professionals.
April 20, 2016 - The University of Miami's University Communications has released a Climate Change Special Report showcasing the work of the University's scientists, researchers, faculty, staff, students and alumni in the areas of climate change and sustainability.
For nearly six months, a team of writers, editors, videographers, photographers, and web developers and designers worked on this report, which encompasses more than 40 articles, photo galleries, videos, and interactive polls and social engagement.
This report looks at the areas of ocean and atmospheric research, renewable energy options, sustainable design and infrastructure, the spread of vector-borne diseases and health concerns, and population migration impacted by the changing environment, among other topics of interest.
Dozens of sources were interviewed for this report, which quotes or mentions more than 70 faculty, students, alumni and staff, and touches all the University's 11 schools and colleges.
April 6, 2016 - A new University of Miami (UM) Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science-led study found that Miami Beach flood events have significantly increased over the last decade due to an acceleration of sea-level rise in South Florida. The researchers suggest that regional sea-level projections should be used in place of global projections to better prepare for future flood hazards in the region.
To quantify the flood hazard in Miami Beach, the UM Rosenstiel School researchers analyzed tide and rain-gauge records, media reports, insurance claims, and photos of flooding events on Miami Beach and in Miami since 2006. The insurance claims and media reports helped the researchers pinpoint the date and type of flood events.
“Our results show that the effect of sea-level rise is real and affecting the daily life of people living in low-lying coastal communities, such as Miami Beach,” said Shimon Wdowinski, UM Rosenstiel School research professor of marine geosciences, and lead author of the study.
The results showed that the flooding frequency in Miami Beach has significantly increased after 2006 mainly due to increasing number of high-tide flooding events. The increased flooding frequency coincides with acceleration in the rate of sea level rise in South Florida. The average rate of sea-level rise increased by 6 millimeters per year over the last decade - from 3 millimeters per year before 2006 to 9 millimeters per year after 2006.
The study’s additional co-authors are Ronald Bray and Ben P. Kirtman from the UM Rosenstiel School; and Zhaohua Wu from Florida State University.
April 4, 2016 - A new study from researchers at the University of Miami (UM) Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science (RSMAS) found that multiple stressors might be too much for corals. The findings have important implications for the resilience of coral reefs to climate change.
To test the coral’s response to multiple environmental stressors at once, UM Rosenstiel School researchers placed Caribbean branching coral Porites porites in waters with high levels of carbon dioxide (900 parts per million) for two months to mimic high ocean acidification conditions. Following the preconditioning, half of the corals were then subjected to increased water temperatures for two months. Following the five-month period, the researchers analyzed the growth, feeding rates, and photochemical efficiency of their algal symbionts in both groups to understand how they responded to multiple environmental stressors. Many previous studies have assessed the effects of multiple stressors, but this study is novel because it is the first to precondition corals to high CO2 before exposing them to a thermal bleaching event.
Corals preconditioned to high CO2 levels before the increased temperatures showed 44 percent lower growth rates compared to the group that only experienced a single stress of increased carbon dioxide. The researchers suggest that preconditioning to elevated CO2 worsens coral response to thermal stress, which could potentially exacerbate the effects of climate change stressors on coral reefs.
“This study is similar to what corals will likely experience in nature in the coming decades,” said Erica Towle, a UM alumna and lead author of the study. “The findings improve our understanding of how reefs will respond to climate change in the future.”
As the nation’s economic activities, security concerns, and stewardship of natural resources become increasingly complex and globally interrelated, they become ever more sensitive to adverse impacts from weather, climate, and other natural phenomena. For several decades, forecasts with lead times of a few days for weather and other environmental phenomena have yielded valuable information to improve decision-making across all sectors of society. Developing the capability to forecast environmental conditions and disruptive events several weeks and months in advance could dramatically increase the value and benefit of environmental predictions, saving lives, protecting property, increasing economic vitality, protecting the environment, and informing policy choices.
Over the past decade, the ability to forecast weather and climate conditions on subseasonal to seasonal (S2S) timescales, i.e., two to fifty-two weeks in advance, has improved substantially. Although significant progress has been made, much work remains to make S2S predictions skillful enough, as well as optimally tailored and communicated, to enable widespread use. Next Generation Earth System Predictions presents a ten-year U.S. research agenda that increases the nation’s S2S research and modeling capability, advances S2S forecasting, and aids in decision making at medium and extended lead times.
March 23, 2016 - The National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) has chosen FIU’s History Department in the Steven J. Green School of International and Public Affairs (Green School) as the only Florida recipient of a Humanities in the Public Square grant. The grant funds a series of public events, programs, and conversations showing how the humanities can help us come to terms with the threats to Miami from climate change.
“We need more than science and policy right now,” said project director April Merleaux, environmental history professor at FIU. “With this NEH grant, FIU will be able to share another view of some of today’s most pressing issues. We look forward to engaging our community in these important conversations as we imagine our future in South Florida.”
Led by Merleaux and Rebecca Friedman, faculty fellow at FIU’s Office of the Provost and director of FIU’s Polish Lecture Series, FIU will team up with HistoryMiami Museum, the Wolfsonian-FIU, The Kampong, Vizcaya Museum & Gardens, Miami-Dade County Public Schools, Catalyst Miami, and the FIU Green Library Digital Collections Center. The project will feature faculty experts from the Green School, the College of Architecture + the Arts and the College of Arts, Sciences & Education.
A total of seven events will feature literary and religious studies experts, historians, philosophers, geographers and other scholars sharing their perspectives on risk, fear, hope and resilience, among other themes related to sea level rise and climate change.
March 2, 2016 - Global climate change may actually be setting the stage for greater species diversity in the Pacific Northwest. And that could be both positive and negative, depending on the species.
As the climate changes, scientists have been closely monitoring what happens as more carbon dioxide enters our waterways. In recognition of that issue, Florida State University Assistant Professor of Biological Science Sophie McCoy delved into old experiments that explained species diversity and how different species were competitive with one another. Noticing physical changes in the algae’s skeletal structures, she wanted to see if ongoing ocean acidification — the increase in carbon dioxide in the water — affected species interaction. The answer was yes. “Ocean acidification is promoting competition and no one is dominating,” McCoy said. The research is published today in the journal Proceedings of the Royal Society B.
February 29, 2016 - The FCI is proud to be a partner in a new 10-part video series highlighting the effects of sea level rise and climate change through the stories and voices of local Floridians. Each short video (5 to 7 minutes) showcases various aspects concerning sea level rise and includes interviews with scientists (including FCI affiliates), engineers, politicians, conservation directors, educators, authors, activists.
February 29, 2016 -An NSF-funded project on the effects of climate, land use, and socioeconomic conditions on vector-borne disease transmission, such as the Zika virus, was featured in an NSF press release recently. Studying interacting factors allows researchers to understand the "risk landscape" for mosquito-transmitted diseases, according to Sadie Ryan, an ecologist and medical geographer at the University of Florida who is collaborating on the research. Taking a local approach then broadening it, the scientists believe, will allow them to find out when and where interventions -- such as in vector control, healthcare infrastructure, environmental modification, education, and climate change early warning systems -- may be most effective.
February 29, 2016 -As a result of a Florida Sea Grant annual meeting in Gainesville, partners in science, policy, and municipalities work together to achieve policy success.
In 2011, the Florida legislature amended the Growth Management Act and authorized communities to adopt coastal flooding/sea level rise “adaptation action areas” through their comprehensive plans. At the subsequent Sea Grant meeting, Whitney Gray proposed adapting this planning tool to a natural resources context. A UF team working on policy options took Whitney’s “thinking outside the box” idea to the small Gulf Coast community of Yankeetown, which embraced it. Yankeetown is somewhat unusual in that its municipal boundaries extend well into the Gulf of Mexico. The tam of UF scientists and law professors assisted the Town with a grant proposal that had creating a Natural Resources Adaptation Action Area (NRAAA) as a goal, and the development of a community-adopted “science plan” and “business plan” as steps toward that goal. The team then partnered with the Watershed Ecology Lab in the College of Engineering (Dr. David Kaplan) and Yankeetown received a planning grant from the Department of Economic Opportunity. They completed the science and business plans, both of which focused on adaptation, and both of which were adopted by resolution. The science plan included a community wide “bioblitz” to inventory the flora and fauna of the Town-owned Withlacoochee Gulf Preserve (ably assisted by Leroy Creswell). The Business Plan was designed to promote the Town and Preserve as a destination for “science-based education” focused on estuarine adaptation to sea level rise. They also drafted a model comprehensive plan amendment directed toward natural resources adaptation and worked with the Town attorney to tailor it to the Town’s circumstances as a “Natural Resources Adaptation Action Area.” The Town is a “hometown democracy town” which means that all of its comp plan amendments must be placed on the ballot for a referendum, a procedural mechanism subsequently prohibited by the Florida legislature. The Town voted on the comp plan amendment on February 23, 2016 and it passed overwhelmingly. A copy of the comp plan amendment may be downloaded below, along with a poster which describes the project. One reason for pursuing this planning tool comes from the opportunities it may provide to develop an Area-wide approach to restoration to promote adaptation, a concept UF leads are promoting at the upcoming 2016 National Conference on Ecosystem Restoration, and one which may make communities like Yankeetown that embrace this approach more attractive in terms of the funds coming to Florida through the BP spill settlement.
February 22, 2016 - The final project report for "Planning for Sea Level Rise in the Matanzas Basin: Opportunities for Adaptation" is now available online. The project was led by Dr. Kathryn Frank (UF) in collaboration with the Guana Tolomato Matanzas National Estuarine Research Reserve.
The project investigated the Matanzas area’s vulnerability to sea level rise and identified potential adaptation strategies. The project was holistic in its geographic scope, including the Matanzas estuary, watershed, and adjacent communities, and its goals of fostering regional sustainability and resilience. The project integrated analyses of the major trends of sea level rise and population growth, and their effects on conservation priorities and development patterns, using the best available data and scientifically defensible computer models. The project was collaboratively guided by a stakeholder-based steering committee and a series of public workshops oriented towards Matanzas area interest sectors, residents, and youth. And, the project suggested spatially explicit adaptation strategies having the greatest relevance in the context of current local plans and governance capacities. The strategies spanned and interrelated the spatial planning fields of land conservation, smart growth and low impact development, and coastal hazard mitigation. The project’s main findings relate to the importance of the Matanzas Basin, its vulnerabilities, potential adaptation strategies, and current governance adaptive capacity.
February 3, 2016 - A University of Miami (UM) Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science-led study shows that the North Atlantic absorbed 50 percent more human-made carbon dioxide over the last decade, compared to the previous decade. The findings show the impact that the burning of fossil fuels have had on the world's oceans in just 10 years. To determine the total uptake and storage of carbon dioxide in the North Atlantic over the last several decades, researchers analyzed data collected from the same locations, but 10 years apart, to identify changes caused by man-made CO2. The data were collected during two National Science Foundation-funded international ship-based studies, CLIVAR (Climate Variability CO2 Repeat Hydrography) and GO-SHIP (Global Ocean Ship-Based Hydrographic Investigations Program).
“This study shows the large impact all of us are having on the environment and that our use of fossil fuels isn’t only causing the climate to change, but also affects the oceans by decreasing the pH,” said Ryan Woosley, a researcher in the UM Rosenstiel School, Department of Ocean Sciences.
January 29, 2016 - Soils in grazing lands are influencing greenhouse gas concentrations via the release of carbon dioxide and nitrous oxide produced by microbes. A new study funded by USDA-AFRI will investigate how grazing land management and environmental factors (temperature and precipitation) affects the microbial community, and how microbial activity and greenhouse gas production are shaped by these factors. Field measurements and laboratory experiments will be tied to molecular analysis that assess microbial community structure (who is there?) and function (what are they doing?). The goal of the work is to have a modeling tool that can predict the release of carbon dioxide and nitrous oxide from soils under a climate that is expected to be warmer and experience more extreme dry/wet periods across the Southeastern US.
Project Title: “Climate Sensitivity Of Microbial Processes And Their Implication For Carbon Sequestration And Greenhouse Gas Fluxes In Subtropical Pastures”
Award Total: $710,000
Team: Stefan Gerber (PI), Patrick Inglett (Co-PI), Kanika Inglett (Co-PI), and Maria Silveira (Co-PI) (all from Soil and Water Science Department, University of Florida); and Ryan Penton (Co-PI; Arizona State University).
January 27, 2016 - On January 26, 2016, Florida Sea Grant Coastal Planning Specialist Thomas Ruppert was part of a team that presented a workshop on climate change and sea level rise to the Monroe County Board of County Commissioners in the Florida Keys. The workshop was led by Rhonda Haag, Sustainability Manager of Monroe County, and Erin Deady, a consultant hired by Monroe County to help them plan climate change mitigation and sea level rise adaptation. The all-day workshop summarized two years of work by Ms. Deady and her team, which also included Dr. Jason Evans of Stetson University; Alicia Betancourt, UF IFAS Extension Agent; Chris Berg, The Nature Conservancy; and Thomas Ruppert, Florida Sea Grant. Mr. Ruppert presented on one of the key focus areas of the workshop: adapting to sea level rise and how Monroe County can work to balance the costs of maintaining roads being impacted by sea level rise and the rights of property owners to access their property via impacted roads. Mr. Ruppert explained to the Board of County Commissioners a model ordinance developed by Mr. Ruppert along with John Fergus of Satellite Beach and Stetson Law student/Florida Sea Grant legal intern Alex Stewart. Mr. Ruppert and Monroe County Attorney Bob Shillinger fielded numerous questions from the Commission about the model ordinance. Adoption of the model ordinance formed one of many recommendations received by the Board as part of the recommendations in a 5-year implementation plan presented by Ms. Deady.
January 22, 2016 - Scientists from the University of South Florida, along with colleagues in Canada and the Netherlands, have determined that the influx of fresh water from the Greenland ice sheet is "freshening" the North Atlantic Ocean and could disrupt the Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation (AMOC), an important component of global ocean circulation that could have a global effect. Researchers say it could impact the future climate in places such as portions of Europe and North America.
Their study on the influence of freshwater influx on Labrador Sea convection and Atlantic circulation is published in a new issue of the journal Nature Communications.
"We derived a new estimate of recent freshwater flux from Greenland using updated GRACE satellite data," said USF professor Tim Dixon. "The data suggest that the influx of freshwater from Greenland is accelerating, and has changed the Labrador Sea in ways that could lead to a weakening of the AMOC."
January 6, 2016 - Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University (FAMU) President Elmira Mangum, Ph.D., recently sent a letter to U.S. President Barack Obama pledging to solidify FAMU as a leading university in climate action. In her letter, Mangum applauded President Obama for the progress made to promote clean energy and climate action before the United Nations Climate Negotiations that took place in Paris in November. To ensure FAMU’s active participation in climate change discourse, FAMU Sustainability Institute (FAMU-SI) Faculty Director Odemari Mbuya travelled to Paris to attend the United Nations Framework Climate Change Convention Conference of the Parties 21st convening (COP21), where he gave a presentation.
As part of the Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU) Climate Change Initiative, political science professor John Warford, Ph.D., accompanied FAMU environmental and political science students who traveled to Paris to participate in COP21. In addition to encouraging University participation in climate action on a global scale, Mangum is also dedicated to making all FAMU campuses more environmentally conscious. Her efforts include signing the American College and University Presidents’ Climate Commitment (ACUPCC) in January 2014; FAMU’s participation in the Better Buildings Challenge, committing to ensure all buildings on campus are 20 percent more energy efficient within 10 years; and the establishment of the FAMU Sustainability Institute (FAMU-SI), which is tasked with coordinating the implementation of broad social, environmental, and economic sustainability programs.
Mangum is among 600 college and university presidents and chancellors who have committed their institutions to take bold and catalytic climate actions. “Although we are optimistic that world leaders will reach an agreement to secure a transition to a low-carbon future, we recognize the urgent need to act now to avoid irreversible costs to our global community’s economic prosperity and public health,” Mangum said in the letter. As part of Mangum’s climate leadership commitment, she pledged that FAMU will develop a Climate Action Plan by May 2016, make carbon neutrality and climate resilience a part of the curriculum, expand research in climate science, and establish community partnerships to implement strategies for reducing carbon dependency on campus and in the surrounding community.
January 5, 2016 - No other place in the nation has higher risk to assets than Miami, Florida, and Florida Ranks very high among states that are least prepared for climate change impacts. The gravest climate change impact and threat to Miami is from sea level rise. Rising sea levels are creating challenges for both natural and human communities, and will impact the lowest elevation communities first. Understanding the causes, effects, and responses to sea level rise requires an interdisciplinary approach to short- and long-term strategies for mitigating the causes and effects of sea level rise. A holistic, system-oriented approach is posed that provides design and analysis toward decision-support for how we can adapt and even mitigate sea level rise now and into the future.
December 22, 2015 - New research from Florida Institute of Technology scientists Chris Cacciapaglia and Rob van Woesik shows that corals may survive better in warm oceans where the water is clouded by floating particles. Coral reefs, the most diverse marine ecosystems on the planet, are under increasing stress and are dying in many parts of the world as the oceans continue to warm. When high levels of sunlight combine with unnaturally warm temperatures, the corals don’t have much of a chance. Cacciapaglia and van Woesik’s study, appearing in the December issue of Global Change Biology, shows that moderate levels of turbidity – cloudy water – could lower stress by shading the corals from extremely high light.
December 17, 2015 - Climate change is rapidly warming lakes around the world, threatening freshwater supplies and ecosystems, according to a new study spanning six continents. More than 60 scientists took part in the research, published in the journal Geophysical Research Letters and announced today at the fall meeting of the American Geophysical Union in San Francisco. The study authors include Karl Havens, director of the Florida Sea Grant program and a professor with the University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences. The study showed that lakes are warming an average of 0.6 degrees Fahrenheit each decade. That’s greater than the warming rate of either the oceans or the atmosphere, and it could have profound effects, scientists say.
December 14, 2015 - More than 190 countries came together to #ActOnClimate by adopting the most ambitious climate change agreement in history! The Paris Agreement establishes a long term, durable global framework to reduce global greenhouse gas emissions. For the first time, all countries commit to putting forward successive and ambitious, nationally determined climate targets and reporting on their progress towards them using a rigorous, standardized process of review.
December 10, 2015 - With climate change conversations under way at the COP21 Paris Talks, the discussion on global climate change may seem distant to many communities – but not Hialeah. There, in the Milander Center for Arts and Entertainment, Xavier Cortada has brought the conversation home to South Florida with CLIMA, his solo art exhibit on climate change and sea-level rise. Cortada currently serves as artist-in-residence for FIU’s College of Arts & Sciences (CAS), School of Environment, Arts and Society (SEAS), and College of Architecture + The Arts (CARTA). Each day of the CLIMA exhibit included a special climate-inspired performance, display, or video by Cortada, as well as a panel discussion to cover topics related to the causes and/or effects of climate change and sea level rise. The panels were well-represented by FIU faculty, including Tiffany Troxler, Director of the FIU Sea Level Solutions Center (SLSC). The exhibit will continue to display a wide range of environmental art pieces until January 29, 2016.
December 7, 2015 - CBS Miami’s Focus on South Florida segment recently featured FIU’s Tiffany Troxler, Director of the FIU Sea Level Solutions Center, and Henry Briceño, Associate Researcher at FIU’s Southeastern Environmental Research. The discussion occurred during the middle of the COP21 climate change talks in Paris, after President Obama recently cited Miami Beach as a specific example of why the US should commit to reducing greenhouse gas emissions. Drs. Troxler and Briceño each described what is currently being done to address the issues related to sea level rise in South Florida, and expressed their optimism going forward after the start of COP21. Watch the full video here >>
December 4, 2015 - On November 23, Florida state climatologist David Zierden was one of four scientists invited to a congressional briefing in Washington, DC where he provided background and explained the implications of the 2015-16 El Niño event. The four panelists discussed how El Niño forms, what impacts can be anticipated from the current event, as well as the opportunities and challenges in understanding, monitoring, and predicting the El Niño. Zierden stressed the importance of increasing the prediction accuracy for El Niño to better plan global and regional responses. In Florida, where the 1997-98 El Niño had severe impacts, water planners and farmers are preparing responses to expected impacts of this year's El Niño. The briefing highlighted the importance of continued investment in data assimilation, model improvement, and communication to stakeholders and decision makers to better predict and prepare for future El Niño events.
November 28, 2015 - A Tampa Bay Times article by Craig Pittman highlights research conducted by University of Florida archaeologist Ken Sassaman on how Florida's early inhabitants adapted to sea level changes:
"The 2012 emergency call sent archaeologists scrambling. Rising seas were washing away an ancient Indian burial ground near Cedar Key. They had to dig up the remaining graves and collect the bones before the whole thing disappeared into the Gulf of Mexico. But while digging, University of Florida archaeologist Ken Sassaman discovered something that surprised him. The burial ground of some 1,300 graves was actually a re-burial ground. The skeletons had been buried somewhere else, then moved to this spot. Florida's early inhabitants had done that, Sassaman said, because they were dealing with the same problem that's facing the low-lying Sunshine State now: waves that creep higher and higher, crumbling the coastline and forcing the inhabitants to make tough choices about the future. Their solution was to move everything important to them, including their ancestors, he explained."
November 25, 2015 - On Tuesday, November 24, Tiffany Troxler, Director of FIU's Sea Level Solutions Center, gathered faculty and students at Little River Pocket Park in Miami, for a hands-on event during King Tide flooding. The event focused on a low-lying community where significant tidal flooding has been observed, but received little attention, in order to conduct a citizen science activity and emphasize that sea level rise is not just a Miami Beach issue. Faculty and students organized to take video and help attendees with data collection. Attendees also had the opportunity to view storm water pump activity and conduct water quality sampling.
The event comes less than a week before world leaders will convene in Paris for the 21st Conference of the Parties (COP21), to address climate change issues and formalize agreements to lower carbon emissions. Dr. Juliet Pinto, of FIU’s School of Journalism and Mass Communication, will attend the conference in Paris and stream daily updates.
November 25, 2015 - The following update was submitted by Jillian Drabik, an Ecosystem Science and Policy doctoral student at the University of Miami, on the status of a project on the South Florida Water, Sustainability and Climate Project funded by NSF and USDA and led by FIU:
Over the past twelve months we have made steady progress toward our project objectives. In addition to working toward individual and task group goals, we are also working within the context of the larger project goals. These goals are to develop: 1) a hydro-economic model for South Florida, 2) new information on the economic value of ecosystem services that can be used in modeling exercises, 3) management schemes to increase the resilience of the system to climate change and sea level rise, 4) our understanding of cognitive and perceptual biases in risk assessment and decision-making, and 5) adaptive management plans that optimize economic productivity, the value of ecosystem services, and which foster sustained public support in South Florida. Significant progress has been made on these objectives, including the release of the downscaled climate data for South Florida, further refinement of the penalty functions, and early discussion of selecting scenarios to examine with the hydro-economic model.
Over the next several months, the primary goal is to fully develop the different penalty functions and further engage with stakeholder groups for model input and feedback. Research in other areas including ecosystem service valuation, fisheries evaluation, and the decision and behavioral sciences continues to progress.
November 24, 2015 - A larger portion of Africa is currently at high risk for malaria transmission than previously predicted, according to a new University of Florida mapping study. Under future climate regimes, the area where the disease can be transmitted most easily will shrink, but the total transmission zone will expand and move into new territory, according to the study, which appears in the current issue of the journal Vector-Borne and Zoonotic Diseases. By 2080, the study shows, the year-round, highest-risk transmission zone will move from coastal West Africa, east to the Albertine Rift, between the Democratic Republic of Congo and Uganda. The area suitable for seasonal, lower-risk transmission will shift north into coastal sub-Saharan Africa. Most striking, some parts of Africa will become too hot for malaria. The overall expansion of malaria-vulnerable areas will challenge management of the deadly disease, said lead author Sadie Ryan, an assistant professor of geography at the University of Florida who also is affiliated with UF’s Emerging Pathogens Institute.
November 23, 2015 - Researchers for the first time have attempted to measure all the material leaving and entering a mountain range over more than a million years and discovered that erosion caused by glaciation during ice ages can, in the right circumstances, wear down mountains faster than plate tectonics can build them. The international study conducted by the Integrated Ocean Drilling Program and led by scientists from the University of Florida, The University of Texas at Austin and Oregon State University, adds insight into a longstanding debate about the balance of climate and tectonic forces that influence mountain building. It is published today in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. Researchers studied the St. Elias Mountains on the Alaskan coast and found that erosion accelerated sharply about 1 million years ago when global climate cooling triggered stronger and more persistent ice ages than times past.
"Humans often see mountain ranges as static, unyielding parts of the landscape,” said co-chief scientist John Jaeger, an associate professor of geology at the University of Florida. “But our work has shown that they are actively evolving along with, and responding to, Earth's climate, which just shows how truly dynamic and coupled this planet is."
November 19, 2015 - The FCI joined more than 200 university and college campuses, including FAMU and FIU, in signing the White Houses's American Campuses Act on Climate Pledge to demonstrating support for strong climate action by world leaders in Paris next month. The pledge reads:
"As institutions of higher education, we applaud the progress already made to promote clean energy and climate action as we seek a comprehensive, ambitious agreement at the upcoming United Nations Climate Negotiations in Paris. We recognize the urgent need to act now to avoid irreversible costs to our global community’s economic prosperity and public health and are optimistic that world leaders will reach an agreement to secure a transition to a low carbon future. Today our school pledges to accelerate the transition to low-carbon energy while enhancing sustainable and resilient practices across our campus."
November 16, 2015 - Sea level research conducted by Andrea Dutton (UF Geology) is featured in a recent news article in the journal Science. Dr. Dutton's studies of fossil coral reefs exposed at an amusement park in Mexico suggest a rapid rise in sea level some 120,000 years ago, during a warm spell in Earth's history.
November 2, 2015 - Drs. O.S. Mbuya (Florida A&M University) and Ben Kirtman (University of Miami) will represent the Florida Climate Institute (FCI) at the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (NFCCC), Conference of the Parties 21st (COP21) in Paris, France (http://www.cop21.gouv.fr/en/cop21-cmp11/what-cop21-cmp11) from November 30 through December 11, 2015. At the Conference, FCI will partner with India’s National Council for Climate, Sustainable Development and Public Leadership (NCCSD). The FCI representatives will showcase the scientific milestones achieved by the nine participating institutions on climate research and echo our commitment to address issues related to climate at national and global levels.
November 2, 2015 - On October 20 & 21 at the FAU Boca Campus Alumni Center, the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) and the Florida Center for Environmental Studies (CES) hosted a technical meeting to address issues relating to invasive species in the Florida Everglades. About 50 researchers and managers participated in a series of presentations and working sessions.
On Day One Shannon Estenoz, Director of Everglades Restoration Initiatives at the U.S. Department of the Interior, challenged the group to examine the framework used in the State of Florida—the Early Detection Rapid Response (EDRR) decision framework for nonindigenous species--and improve it for use as a screening tool. Experts from Florida Fish & Wildlife, USGS, the Universities of Florida and Georgia, and the National Park Service presented the tools they currently use in their work. Florida plant and wildlife managers also learned from the procedures and methods presented by authorities from the States of Hawai’i and Vermont. On the second day, three working groups evaluated the EDRR frameworks and provided recommendations and feedback. As a next step, the feedback will be compiled and work will begin on the development of a screening tool. Updates will be posted on the meeting’s website: www.ces.fau.edu/usgs/edrr-technical-meeting/index.php
November 2, 2015 - The Florida Natural Resources Leadership Institute (NRLI) is now accepting applications for Class XVI (2016-2017). NRLI is an eight-month professional development program that seeks to impact decision making in Florida by creating a network of professionals with members in every county and across all natural resource sectors who can effectively address natural resource issues through conflict management and collaborative leadership. For more information (including the 2016-2017 schedule and application process), please visit http://nrli.ifas.ufl.edu/NRLI_classXVI.shtml.
In coastal communities, the impacts of hurricanes and earthquakes are exacerbated by sea-level rise and aging infrastructures. This course looks at community actions designed to visualize future impacts, identify critical weaknesses, and identify mitigation measures. We'll explore solutions for building resilient communities. In reviewing case studies, you'll learn: The pros and cons of hazard mitigation approaches in coastal communities; What qualifies a building or community as "resilient"; and Best practices for critical decision-making on development, retrofits, and relocation by incorporating emerging knowledge into project planning. The end result from the strategies presented? Resilient buildings and better protected coastal communities.
November 2, 2015 - The Pine Integrated Network: Education, Mitigation, and Adaptation project (PINEMAP) (based at UF) recently hosted a virtual meeting with special guest Dr. Andrew Hoffman, author of the insightful book “How Culture Shapes the Climate Change Debate” (available here). After PINEMAP researchers presented a brief overview of PINEMAP's different stakeholder groups, Dr. Hoffman spoke with the PINEMAP team about how to build trust to improve climate science communication. A recording of the meeting is available here. If you are interested in better understanding the barriers to communicating with diverse audiences about controversial science issues, PINEMAP encourages you to check out Hoffman's book and his engaging talk.
October 29, 2015 - From the Tampa Bay Climate Science Advisory Panel:
Coastal communities surrounding Tampa Bay are low-lying, densely-populated and therefore vulnerable to sea-level rise. In response to requests from local governments in the Tampa Bay region, Florida Sea Grant (FSG) and the Tampa Bay Regional Planning Council (TBRPC) are facilitating coordinated efforts to guide sea-level rise adaptation planning in the region. The FSG Agent is facilitating the Climate Science Advisory Panel (CSAP), an ad hoc group of experts, including a representative and affiliates of the Florida Climate Institute, whose goal is to provide scientific counsel to local governments planning for a changing climate. The TBRPC is convening a network of planners, developers, emergency managers and policy makers through the ONE BAY: Resilient Communities Working Group (OBRCWG) (http://www.tbrpc.org/onebay/working_group.shtml) improve the regional capacity of the area to withstand uncertainty and adverse impacts associated with sea level rise and other coastal hazards. Together, these groups are working to promote the pragmatic application of scientific data in public policy.
After a careful review of scientific research and associated literature, the CSAP has drafted a "Recommended Projection of Sea Level Rise in the Tampa Bay Region" (http://www.tbrpc.org/council_members/councilagendas/2015/101215/8c.pdf). The recommendation provides guidance on what sea level rise projections should be incorporated into local planning efforts. On October 9th, the Tampa Bay Regional Planning Council (TBRPC) voted unanimously to accept the Recommendation for distribution to local governments. The TBRPC One Bay Resilient Communities Working Group will continue to facilitate the discussion of adaptation planning with planners, emergency managers and government leaders to identify practical and incremental solutions to address sea level rise. Members of the CSAP are available to present the recommendation of the guidance document to local governments and partners.
October 27, 2015 - Samples of permafrost soil from deep below the ground in an Alaskan tunnel are providing new clues in the quest to understand what exactly happens as northern regions of the world warm and begin to thaw. FSU doctoral student Travis Drake and Florida State University Assistant Professor in Earth, Ocean and Atmospheric Sciences Robert Spencer write in a new paper that permafrost organic material is so biodegradable that as soon as it thaws, the carbon is almost immediately consumed by single-cell organisms called microbes and then released back into the air as carbon dioxide, feeding the global climate cycle. Their findings are laid out in an article published today by the Proceedings of National Academy of Sciences. This is the first time scientists were able to quantify exactly how fast organic carbon from Alaskan permafrost is converted into carbon dioxide.
"This study really shows what makes permafrost so biodegradable," said Drake, who completed the work while still an employee at the U.S. Geological Survey and master’s degree student at University of Colorado. "Immediately upon thaw, microbes start using the carbon and then it is sent back into the atmosphere."
October 27, 2015 - The USF Patel College of Global Sustainability is excited to announce the launch of four new 12 credit hour graduate certificates starting Spring 2016. The application deadline is December 4, 2016 for the Spring semester. The certificates will be in Sustainable Tourism; Energy Sustainability; Water Sustainability; and Global Sustainability.
October 16, 2015 - 1,200 climate change leaders, including FIU faculty, staff and students, representing more than 80 countries throughout the world,recently attended the Climate Reality Leadership Corps training with former U.S. Vice President Al Gore. The workshop, hosted by FIU and The Climate Reality Project, offered training in climate science, communications and grassroots organizing to tell the story of climate change and how to inspire communities to take action.
October 15, 2015 - Researchers from Florida Atlantic University have just published the results of a four-year study in the journal Endangered Species Research on the effects of turtle nest temperatures and sand temperatures and on hatchling sex.
"The shift in our climate is shifting turtles as well, because as the temperature of their nests change so do their reproduction patterns," said Jeanette Wyneken, Ph.D., professor of biological sciences in FAU’s Charles E. Schmidt College of Science. "The nesting beaches along Florida’s coast are important, because they produce the majority of the loggerhead hatchlings entering the northwestern Atlantic Ocean. If climatic changes continue to force the sex ratio bias of loggerheads to even greater extremes, we are going to lose the diversity of sea turtles as well as their overall ability to reproduce effectively. Sex ratios are already strongly female biased...that’s why it’s critical to understand how environmental factors, specifically temperature and rainfall, influence hatchling sex ratios."
October 15, 2015 - A new study from the University of Miami (UM) Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science (RSMAS) challenges the prevailing wisdom by identifying the atmosphere as the driver of a decades-long climate variation known as the Atlantic Multi-decadal Oscillation (AMO). The findings offer new insight on the causes and predictability of natural climate variations, which are known to cause wide-ranging global weather impacts, including increased rainfall, drought, and greater hurricane frequency in many parts of the Atlantic basin. For decades, research on climate variations in the Atlantic has focused almost exclusively on the role of ocean circulation as the main driver, specifically the Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation, which carries warm water north in the upper layers of the ocean and cold water south in lower layers like a large conveyor belt.
“The idea of the ocean as the driver has been a powerful one.” said UM Rosenstiel School Professor Amy Clement, the lead author on the study. We used computer models in a new way to test this idea, and find that in fact there is a lot that can be explained without the ocean circulation.”
October 12, 2015 - When it comes to mitigating climate change, marine predators could be a key factor. Coastal habitats full of vegetation, including seagrass beds, salt marshes and mangroves, are some of the best absorbers of atmospheric carbon dioxide, according to FIU marine scientists Mike Heithaus and James Fourqurean. Coastal habitats bury carbon 40 times faster than tropical forests. These same habitats are believed to store as much as 25 billion tons of carbon, making them the most carbon-rich ecosystems on the planet. Yet, when the predator population is low, these areas fall victim to overgrazing and sediment disruption. The findings were published this week by Nature Climate Change.
October 5, 2015 - Every dollar spent in actions to reduce disaster losses saves the nation $4 in damages. To build climate change resiliency, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) partnered with FIU to provide local community leaders with the knowledge and tools to assess and improve their capabilities to prevent, mitigate, respond to and recover from climate impacts, including sea level rise, drought and wildfires, heatwaves, floods, powerful storms and other hazards. FEMA’s National Exercise Division and FIU’s Sea Level Solutions Center and Southeast Environmental Research Center hosted a seminar Sept. 21-22 that brought together public, private and nonprofit sector decision makers from Miami-Dade and Broward counties. The White House named FIU as the host for the pilot seminar earlier this summer. It will set the stage for building a sustainable, “Climate Adaptation, Preparedness and Resilience Seminar” program across the country.
October 2, 2015 - King crabs may soon become high-level predators in Antarctic marine ecosystems where they haven’t played a role in tens of millions of years, according to a new study led by Florida Institute of Technology. “No Barrier to Emergence of Bathyal King Crabs on the Antarctic Shelf,” published online in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, ties the reappearance of these crabs to global warming. Lead author Richard Aronson, professor and head of Florida Tech’s Department of Biological Sciences, said the rising temperature of the ocean west of the Antarctic Peninsula – one of the most rapidly warming places on the planet – should make it possible for king crab populations to move to the shallow continental shelf from their current deep-sea habitat within the next several decades.
October 2, 2015 - A new study found that a nutrient-rich, balanced diet is beneficial to corals during stressful thermal events. The research led by scientists at the University of Miami (UM) Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science and the Centre Scientifique de Monaco concluded that the particular nutrient balance in seawater is what matters most. "We found that the coral's resilience to thermal stress totally depends on the kind of inorganic enrichment -- if it's 'balanced' or not," said Erica Towle, an alumna of the UM Rosenstiel School.
September 30, 2015 -Simone Athayde (UF) and colleagues have released a short video on Indigenous Peoples and Disaster Risk Reduction, co-produced with Maskoke and Seminole representatives in Florida: https://vimeo.com/138904196
Dr. Athayde thanks everyone who contributed to this project, as well as the institutions START, TCD/UF, IRDR/Taipeiand ISSC for the support. A corresponding website is also up, and has the link to the video as well as additional information on related work and case-studies (including indigenous peoples and dams in the Amazon): http://www.indigenousknowledgenetwork.org
The Institute for Research on Global Climate Change at Florida Tech will provide the science to forecast the ecological and societal effects of climate change in the State of Florida and beyond. The Institute will focus on unifying and the unique aspect of faculty research that encompasses three distinct ecological assemblages: tropical rain forests, corals reefs, and the Antarctica.
Drs. van Woesik and Bush say they are "looking forward to working with the Florida Climate Institute. The timing of such a collaboration is perfect. Over the next six months, the current 2015-2016 El Nino event may deliver some of the highest tropical and subtropical temperatures on record. We will be evaluating the reef response; corals in the Florida Keys are already bleached white from temperature stress."
September 30, 2015 - To promote public engagement with the topic of sea-level rise, Florida Atlantic University’s Center for Environmental Studies (CES) invites the South Florida community to document their personal experience with King Tide October 26th-28th. Winning entries will be posted on Facebook and the six best photographers will be invited to participate in a Sea-Level Rise Expedition highlighting challenges and solutions in South Florida in relation to sea-level rise. Winners will be announced November 6th.
September 30, 2015 - Florida Atlantic University (FAU) is receiving new funding to support the following projects:
(1) Support from Florida Sea Grant’s ADaPT: Adaptation Design and Planning Tool for Urban Areas in the Coastal Zone program will allow Jeff Huber’s team of FAU researchers to go “beyond simple stormwater management infrastructure engineering and design to create a unique comprehensive strategy that links isolated research into a meta-disciplinary platform or framework—one which leverages, engineering, ecological and social sciences, and urban design to reward greater resilient planning while enhancing livability.” Award amount: $280,000.
(2) Jeff Huber also secured a National Endowment for the Arts “Our Town” Grant with the City of Fort Lauderdale entitled “Botanizing the Asphalt of North Beach Village: Integrating Public Art and Resilient Design.” The $50,000 grant is currently being developed in the School of Architecture at Florida Atlantic University.
(3) In a collaborative research project with Lehigh University, Diana Mitsova-Boneva at FAU was awarded an NSF Grant for CRISP Type 2/Collaborative Research: Probabilistic Resilience Assessment of Interdependent Systems (PRAISys) in the amount of $296,793. The development, calibration, and validation of PRAISys will enable research on stochastic interdependencies among infrastructure systems in the wake of an extreme event such as an earthquake or severe storm, in which the socio-economic recovery of the affected region depends on the recovery of its infrastructure systems.
(4) Thanks to an NSF grant under the Coastal SEES program, a team of researchers led by PI Colin Polsky will continue work on the question “How will feedbacks between marsh response to SLR and human adaptation responses to potential marsh loss affect the overall sustainability of the combined socio-ecological systems?” An inter-disciplinary program is proposed that leverages the long-term data, experiments and modeling tools at 3 Atlantic Coast Long-Term Ecological Research sites (in MA, VA, GA). FAU has been awarded $148,571 for its portion of work on the project.
September 30, 2015 - A new 5 year multi-institutional collaborative research grant of $1.85 million funded by the National Science Foundation’s Ecology and Evolution of Infectious Diseases (NSF EEID) program will support research on the effect of temperature on 13 different diseases that use insects for transmission. It will also measure the capacity for two common disease-carrying mosquitoes in the Americas to adapt to new (or changing) temperatures. FCI affiliates Dr. Sadie Ryan (UF), Dr. Leah Johnson (USF), and Dr. Jason Rohr (USF) are three of the investigators on the project.
Many of the world’s most devastating and neglected infectious diseases are spread to people by mosquitoes and other insects. Malaria, a mosquito-transmitted parasite, kills over 650,000 people each year. Dengue fever, an incurable mosquito-borne virus, infects around 400 million people annually, a rate which has grown dramatically in recent decades. With limited options for medical treatment or vaccination, preventing infection is the best way to control these diseases. This approach requires understanding—and predicting—how the climate affects mosquitoes and the diseases they carry.
“If we want to predict the spread of mosquito-transmitted diseases, we have to learn how these insects and pathogens respond to the environment and changing climate,” says Dr. Sadie Ryan, Assistant Professor of Medical Geography at the University of Florida and co-principal investigator on the project. “We will improve on our existing predictive models by validating them with real data. Integrating field data on local conditions with mapped model predictions will enable us to understand the multiscalar dynamics of climate-disease relationships.”
September 25, 2015 - A joint project of the Association of State Flood Plain Managers (ASFPM) and Coastal States Organization (CSO) invited Florida Sea Grant’s Thomas Ruppert to serve on a 13-person Project Advisory Committee for the project “Improving Community Resiliency through the NFIP / CRS.” The project is being funded by the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation as part of the Hurricane Sandy Coastal Resiliency Competitive Grants Program. The project’s goal is to improve participation in the FEMA Community Rating System (CRS) program by developing new tools to inspire communities to join the CRS and help participating communities enhance their score while strengthening floodplain ecosystems. The project will conduct interviews with floodplain managers and officials from communities around the United States as part of the development of a “CRS Green Guide.” The Guide will serve as a roadmap for communities to implement best practices that contribute to CRS points and also improve the natural functions of floodplain ecosystems, leading to improved community resilience.
The advisory committee serves as an independent observer, advisor, and reviewer of the research design, results, and tools developed as part of the project. PAC members have been selected based on coastal management, floodplain management and/or CRS program experience. Other advisory committee members include representatives from offices of the National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration, state offices such as state floodplain managers, private consultants, city planners, and FEMA’s Mitigation Directorate.
September 14, 2015 - South Florida is on the front lines in the war against invasive reptiles and amphibians because its warm climate makes it a place where they like to live, a new University of Florida study shows. Using computer models and data showing where reptiles live in Florida, UF/IFAS scientists predicted where they could find non-native species in the future. They found that as temperatures climb, areas grow more vulnerable to invasions by exotic reptiles. Conversely, they found that extreme cold temperatures protect against invasion.
"Early detection and rapid response efforts are essential to prevent more of the 140 introduced species from establishing breeding populations, and this study helps us choose where to look first," said Frank Mazzotti, a wildlife ecology and conservation professor at the University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences Fort Lauderdale Research and Education Center. The new study is published online in the journal Herpetological Conservation Biology. Lead author Ikuko Fujisaki, an assistant professor of wildlife ecology and conservation at the Fort Lauderdale REC, said scientists conducted the study to provide scientific data for managing invasive wildlife in the Sunshine State.
September 11, 2015 - Three Florida State University researchers are part of the scientific team on board a U.S. Coast Guard icebreaker that became the first American ship to make a solo trip to the North Pole. Professor of Chemical Oceanography William Landing, National High Magnetic Field Lab assistant scholar scientist Peter Morton, and post doctoral researcher Neil Wyatt are part of the 145 member crew and science party aboard the U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Healy, which left Alaska Aug. 9 for the North Pole. The expedition is in support of GEOTRACES, an international effort funded by the National Science Foundation to study the geochemistry of the world’s oceans. The data collected by scientists will be essential to understanding how the Arctic works.
September 2, 2015 - A new Florida State University study is giving researchers a glimpse at how organisms from fish to flowers to tumors evolve in response to rapid environmental change. The findings could have a broad ripple effect on a number of research areas, including climate change and cancer treatment. And it's all because of guppies.
FSU Professor of Biological Science Kimberly Hughes and a team of researchers set out to find how this tiny tropical fish would evolve if they transplanted wild Trinidadian guppy fish from a stream with predatory fish into two-predator-free streams. Because guppies reproduce multiple times in a year, they were able to track three to four generations of the fish living in a predator-free zone. The findings, published today in the academic journal Nature, were staggering.
By sequencing genetic material in the guppies' brains, researchers found that 135 genes evolved in response to the new environment. Most of the changes in the gene expression were internal and dealt with a fish's biological processes such as metabolism, immune function and development. But more importantly, the immediate response of genes to change in the environment did not reflect the eventual evolutionary change. Genes can change their activity levels in an immediate response to the environment -- what evolutionary biologists call plasticity -- or in an evolutionary response that occurs over many generations. What Hughes and her colleagues found was that the evolutionary change in gene activity was usually opposite in direction to the immediate plasticity of gene activity. A gene that had changed in response to drastic change in the environment would then evolve in the opposite direction after a few generations.
August 26, 2015 - A consortium of 14 U.S. academic institutions received a $12-million award from the National Science Foundation (NSF) to address challenges that threaten urban water systems in the United States and around the world. University of Miami (UM) Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science researchers David Letson and Kenny Broad are among the network’s principal investigators. The newly established Urban Water Innovation Network (UWIN), led by Colorado State University, will create technological, institutional, and management solutions to help communities increase the resilience of their water systems and enhance preparedness for responding to water crises. UM Rosenstiel School Professors of Marine Ecosystems and Society Letson and Broad will help design innovative technological solutions, such as green infrastructure, sustainable urban drainage networks, and floodplains that can enhance the sustainability of water systems across urban water systems and measure the impacts of these solutions.
August 25, 2015 - Wasting fresh water is a real concern. A recent study conducted with homeowners in central Florida found that, on average, 64 percent of the drinking water used by homes went to irrigation. In the summer months, this percentage increased to 88 percent. As the population increases, conservation of fresh water becomes increasingly important. The Special Issue Section of the current Technology and Innovation Journal of the National Academy of Inventors focuses on challenges to fresh water from environmental changes and from the human population. Florida homeowners—ready and willing to comply with government agency-imposed lawn watering restrictions—want to conserve water, although many are confused about how to conserve water. At the same time, many homeowners are also required to have perfect, green lawns or risk being penalized by their Home Owner's Associations (HOAs).
August 25, 2015 - With rising seas threatening coastal communities all across the world, Florida International University has launched the Sea Level Solutions Center to help people understand, adapt and persevere. FIU ecologist Tiffany Troxler will serve as director. The center combines expertise in the natural, physical and social sciences, along with architecture, engineering, computer sciences, law, communications, business, health and tourism management to develop long-term strategies in the face of rising seas. FIU’s Miami location will be key in advancing the center’s mission. South Florida is particularly vulnerable because of the large number of assets exposed to the effects of sea level rise.
"Rising seas are a topic of grave concern around the world, and most societies will feel the effects," said FIU President Mark B. Rosenberg. WWhile successful adaptation to sea level rise is local in nature, it will take international, national, regional, as well as local cooperation to develop and implement the necessary policies and strategies to address this global threat."
The FIU Sea Level Solutions Center will focus on envisioning and designing safe, resilient, prosperous and sustainable 22nd century coastal communities by focusing on the science behind the rising seas, preservation of governance systems, infrastructure challenges and solutions, business impacts, supply chain challenges, ecosystem dependencies, and personal assets. It will work with local governments, business and community leaders to accelerate adaption planning.
August 12, 2015 - Two Florida State University oceanography professors have been named fellows of the American Geophysical Union (AGU), a professional scientific organization representing scientists in 139 countries. Allan Clarke, the Adrian E. Gill Professor of Oceanography, and Jeffrey Chanton, the John Widmer Winchester Professor of Oceanography, were selected for the fellow designation by their peers in the organization for outstanding contributions to earth and space sciences.
Clarke focuses on understanding and predicting the El Niño/Southern Oscillation (ENSO). Generated by air/sea interaction in the central equatorial Pacific, ENSO is the major factor causing short-term climate variability on earth. Chanton focuses on the gas methane, which is an important trace gas produced by microbes involved in earth’s carbon cycle. It has led him to do work on climate change and more recently, the BP oil spill.
August 11, 2015 - Florida State University is among nine universities who will share a $12 million grant from the National Science Foundation (NSF) to build a unique network of scientists, industry leaders and policy partners committed to building better cities. The network will include major metropolitan cities in the United States and India, infrastructure firms, and policy groups that will focus on ways to reimagine energy grids, road networks, green spaces and food and water systems. The research seeks to determine how cities can become more highly functional, better promote the health of residents and the environment, and be more desirable places to live and work — that intangible "vibe" known as livability. Funded by the NSF Sustainability Research Network program, the project, “Integrated Urban Infrastructure Solutions for Environmentally Sustainable, Healthy and Livable Cities,” will be anchored at the University of Minnesota and directed by Professor Anu Ramaswami. Florida State University’s lead investigator is Richard Feiock, the Jerry Collins Eminent Scholar of Public Administration and Policy in the Askew School within the College of Social Sciences and Public Policy.
August 10, 2015 - Scientists from NOAA and the Cooperative Institute for Marine and Atmospheric Studies at the University of Miami have documented a dramatic shift from vibrant coral communities to carpets of algae in remote Pacific Ocean waters where an underwater volcano spews carbon dioxide. The new research published online August 10 in Nature Climate Change provides a stark look into the future of ocean acidification – the absorption by the global oceans of increasing amounts of human-caused carbon dioxide emissions. Scientists predict that elevated carbon dioxide absorbed by the global oceans will drive similar ecosystem shifts, making it difficult for coral to build skeletons and easier for other plants and animals to erode them.
August 10, 2015 - Tropical forests in the Andes Mountains are changing in the face of climate change. A new study published in PNAS reveals the number of highland tree species is decreasing as a result of lowland tree species moving upslope along South America’s longest mountain chain in response to rising temperatures and changing rainfall patterns. Instead of shifting to different locations, the highland trees are retracting, or dying back. The results suggest tropical tree species in the Andes are at risk of extinction with ongoing warming. "The effects of climate change are everywhere – you can’t escape it," said Kenneth J. Feeley, a researcher in FIU’s Department of Biological Sciences and International Center for Tropical Botany (ICTB). "Some people hold the notion that the Amazon is an isolated and pristine ecosystem, immune to disturbances. We need to change our mindset and open our eyes to the fact that even in the middle of the Amazon or the remote Andes Mountains, species are at risk. Tropical forests, and the thousands of rare or endemic species they support, are highly sensitive to changes in climate and that they are perhaps some of the most threatened ecosystems of all. Climate change is pervasive and dangerous."
August 4, 2015 - Florida Sea Grant director Karl Havens (University of Florida) has been confirmed as a member of a National Academy of Sciences committee that evaluates progress on the Comprehensive Everglades Restoration Plan, the multibillion-dollar effort underway in south Florida to restore historic water flows to the Everglades. As a member of the Committee on Independent Scientific Review of Everglades Restoration Progress, or CISRERP, Havens will join an ongoing panel of 13 other prominent scientists from across the U.S. tasked with monitoring progress toward Everglades restoration and assessing scientific or engineering issues that may hinder the effort.
August 3, 2015 - South Florida’s predisposition to weather extremes renders the region’s infrastructure acutely vulnerable. But weather extremes are not exclusive to South Florida. The NSF-funded Urban Resilience to Extreme Weather-Related Events Sustainability Research Network (UREx SRN), a newly formed team of researchers, is addressing these challenges on an international scale. FIU biologists Evelyn Gaiser, John Kominoski and Tiffany Troxler are part of the 50-member team of researchers. Hurricanes, flooding, droughts, heat waves and other extreme events can cripple crucial infrastructure that enables transit, electricity, water and other services in urban areas. With these types of events becoming more common, it is increasingly important to develop infrastructure in different, more sustainable ways. Representing 15 institutions from nine cities in North and South America, the researchers will evaluate the social, ecological and technical systems related to infrastructure. Their efforts will take into account key stakeholders, including citizens who rely on the infrastructure and city officials, as well as the natural environment in which the infrastructure operates. The team will evaluate available technology and develop a suite of tools to support the development of urban infrastructure that is resilient and tailored to particular cities.
July 31, 2015 - On July 20-22, the Southeast Florida Regional Climate Change Compact held its second Resilient Redesign in partnership with FCI universities UF, UM, FIU and FAU. The FAU Davie campus hosted the event with over 55 participants who gathered with the goal of developing solutions for sites in Key West, Hollywood and Delray Beach, FL, each with their own unique characteristics and challenges. Participants came from the private sector, public sector and academia. The group was divided in city teams to develop potential options for the sites. On Wednesday, July 22, the teams presented to an audience of over 80 attendees. Solutions included renewal of wetlands, elevated co-housing options, living with water, elevation of infrastructure, off the grid solutions and changes in land use. Presentations will be shared again at the Southeast Florida Regional Climate Leadership Summit to be held December 1-3 in Key West. Cities will be sharing the concepts with their leadership at upcoming commission meetings.
July 27, 2015 - Scientists at the University of South Florida's College of Marine Science investigating the increasing risk of 'compound flooding' for major U.S. cities have found that flooding risk is greatest for cities along the Atlantic and Gulf coasts when strong storm surge and high rainfall amounts occur together. While rising sea levels are the main driver for increasing flood risk, storm surges caused by weather patterns that favor high precipitation exacerbates flood potential. The paper describing their research on the causes of compound flooding in urban areas of the U.S will appear in Nature Climate Change. "Nearly 40 percent of the U.S. population resides in coastal counties," said study lead author Thomas Wahl of the University of South Florida College of Marine Science and the University of Siegen in Germany. "Flooding can have devastating impacts for these low-lying, densely populated and heavily developed regions and have wide-ranging social, economic and environmental consequences."
July 23, 2015 - New research reveals that some of the earliest civilizations in the Middle East and the Fertile Crescent may have been affected by abrupt climate change. These findings show that while socio-economic factors were traditionally considered to shape ancient human societies in this region, the influence of abrupt climate change should not be underestimated. A team of international scientists led by researchers from the University of Miami (UM) Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science found that during the first half of the last interglacial period known as the Holocene epoch, which began about 12,000 years ago and continues today, the Middle East most likely experienced wetter conditions in comparison with the last 6,000 years, when the conditions were drier and dustier.
July 22, 2015 - The White House’s Council on Environmental Quality named Florida International University (FIU) as the host for its first Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) seminar on developing locally relevant exercises supporting community resilience to climate change. The seminar will focus on climate adaptation, preparedness and resilience.
The news of FIU’s selection follows months of active advocacy by the university’s Sea Level Solutions Center targeting increased federal attention to South Florida and promoting FIU’s own strengths in climate change research and environmental resilience engagements.
South Florida serves as ground zero for climate change in the United States and FIU scientists have predicted sea levels to rise by 9 to 24 inches by 2060. The seminar is set to take place September 21-22 at the FIU campus in Miami. The White House issued a press release on actions to build resilience to climate change and more detail on FIU’s partnership with FEMA.
July 22, 2015 - The coral reefs that have protected Pacific Islanders from storm waves for thousands of years could grow rapidly enough to keep up with escalating sea levels if ocean temperatures do not rise too quickly, according to a new study from Florida Institute of Technology. The study, published Wednesday in the journal Royal Society Open Science, provides the first evidence that well-managed reefs will be able to keep up with sea-level rise through vertical growth. But that can happen only if carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere stay below 670 parts-per million (ppm). Carbon dioxide is the principal greenhouse gas responsible for most of global warming, which in turn increases ocean temperatures. Today, the level of carbon dioxide is 400 ppm. Beyond 670 ppm – which represents a 3.5 degree Fahrenheit ocean temperature increase and could be reached within the next 100 years – even healthy reefs will not be able keep up. "Reefs will continue to keep up with sea-level rise if we reduce our emission of greenhouse gases," said Florida Tech’s Rob van Woesik, a professor in the Department of Biological Sciences. "If reefs lose their capacity to keep up with sea-level rise they will drown."
July 9, 2015 - When past temperatures were similar to or slightly higher than the present global average, sea levels rose at least 20 feet, suggesting a similar outcome could be in store if current climate trends continue. Findings published in the journal Science showed that the seas rose in response to melting ice sheets in Greenland and Antarctica, said lead author Andrea Dutton, a University of Florida geochemist. “This evidence leads us to conclude that the polar ice sheets are out of equilibrium with the present climate,” she said. Dutton and an international team of scientists assessed evidence of higher sea levels during several periods to understand how polar ice sheets respond to warming. Combining computer models and observations from the geologic record, they found that during past periods with average temperatures 1 to 3 °C (1.8 to 5.4 °F) warmer than preindustrial levels, sea level peaked at least 20 feet higher than today.
This award is given to those who have influenced agronomic sciences or crop production practices so greatly that the impact of their efforts will be enduring on future science. The team will be recognized during the 2015 Annual Meeting in Minneapolis in November.
June 22, 2015 - New research suggests we may be closer to a global cholera outbreak than once believed. An article recently published in the journal Acta Tropica and co-authored by Dr. Sadie Ryan (University of Florida) shows that, under a conservative future climate scenario, there is a predicted increase in areas with environmental conditions suitable for Vibrio cholerae, the bacterium that causes cholera. This research is part of a joint UF/SUNY Upstate Medical University project looking at environmental reservoirs of waterborne disease and their response to climate. Funding was provided through the Department of Defense's Global Emerging Infections Surveillance (GEIS) program.
June 17, 2015 - As rising seas and South Florida’s growing environmental concerns dominate conversations of local scientists, officials, business owners and journalists, students from the MAST (Marine and Science Technology) high school at Florida International University join the Student Environmental Advocacy (SEA) Corps to document their experiences as they focus on creating solutions for South Florida’s changing environment. Their multimedia storytelling will be produced in broadcast quality stories, animations, and musical productions that will be showcased this fall.
June 15, 2015 -WeatherSTEM has donated a weather station to Florida A&M University’s Developmental Research School. The laboratory school last year received a $32,000 grant from the U.S. Forest Service’s Southern Research Station to create an "outside" classroom where students could explore the wonders of science and technology.
June 10, 2015 - Please join us in congratulating Drs. Andrea Dutton and Clyde Fraisse for being selected as the 2015-16 University of Florida Florida Climate Institute Faculty Fellows! Both were selected from a distinguished candidate pool for their excellent interdisciplinary climate and extension programs that contribute to the goals of the FCI.
The fellowship term is 3 years and will begin in Fall 2015. They join current FCI Faculty Fellows Drs. Tim Martin, Ellen Martin, Jane Southworth, and Jon Dain and will be honored in an award ceremony in October. Stay tuned for dates and details!
June 4, 2015 - A new research study showed why threatened Caribbean star corals sometimes swap partners to help them recover from bleaching events. The findings are important to understand the fate of coral reefs as ocean waters warm due to climate change. The University of Miami (UM) Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science research team placed colonies of Caribbean star coral (Orbicella faveolata) in a heated tank for one to two weeks to replicate ocean conditions that would lead to both mild and severe coral “bleaching” – when corals turn white as a result of the loss of symbiotic algae living in their tissues. The corals, collected from waters off Miami, were then allowed to recover at two different water temperatures, below and above the local average, to see if they recovered with the same or different algal partners. “Since ‘symbiont shuffling’ occurs in only some cases, we wanted to understand what drives this process and whether it could help corals adjust to climate change,” said Ross Cunning, a UM Rosenstiel School alumnus and lead author of the study. “We discovered that partner switching in Caribbean star corals is dependent upon the severity of the bleaching event and the temperature during recovery.”
June 3, 2015 - First impressions are important. So much so that even armed with new information, many people won’t change their minds about genetically modified foods and global warming, a new University of Florida study led by Brandon McFadden shows. Study participants were asked to assess the extent to which they believe human involvement caused global warming. They were given choices ranging from “much less involved” to “much more involved.” The study showed that before they received the information, 64 percent believed human actions are causing global warming; 18 percent were not sure and 18 percent did not believe human actions are to blame. After receiving scientific information about global warming, about 50 percent of participants believed even more strongly that human actions lead to global warming, while 44 percent were not swayed by the information, the study showed. "Possibly, the best indicator for whether a person will adopt scientific information is simply what a person believes before receiving the information," McFadden said.
June 3, 2015 - In an article in The Conversation, Drs. Vasu Misra and Mark Powell (FSU) discuss a new method they've developed to project a hurricane’s strength that takes into account the size of the tropical cyclone. Their method, called the Integrated Kinetic Energy (IKE) index, considers the distribution of the surface wind speed around the center of the storm, unlike the traditional Saffir-Simpson scale that depends on a point measurement of the maximum wind speed. By measuring total energy, they can make a better prediction as to destructive potential as opposed to just looking at wind speed at a single point location.
June 2, 2015 - Popular opinion says that tropical storms and hurricanes that make landfall mitigate droughts in the southeastern United States. But that simply isn’t true, according to a Florida State University researcher. Vasu Misra, associate professor of meteorology and co-director of the FCI and FSU, disputed the commonly held belief in an article published in the journal Climate Dynamics. “The perception that land-falling tropical cyclones serve to replenish the terrestrial water sources in many of the small watersheds in the southeastern U.S. seems to be a myth,” Misra said. “This perception is widespread because the southeastern United States has the largest share of land-falling tropical cyclones in the country.” Misra and Satish Bastola from Georgia Institute of Technology examined historical rainfall records and from that, created a soil moisture-based drought index for 28 watersheds across the southeastern United States for a 58-year period. They then reconstructed the database by eliminating the rainfall on days when a tropical storm or hurricane had made landfall. The end result? Soil moisture levels in these watersheds remained about the same.
May 29, 2015 - Summertime promises no slowdown of activity at FAU’s Center for Environmental Studies (CES). The popular US Geological Survey series of technical meetings continues with two timely and informative events on the FAU Davie Campus. And for those researching or adapting to sea-level rise, CES announces its ongoing service, Sea-Level Rise Expeditions offered throughout South Florida.
We look forward to seeing you on the FAU Davie Campus this summer.
May 28, 2015 - A workshop was organized by AgMIP and USDA and held during May 11-15 at the National Agricultural Library (NAL) in Beltsville, MD. Fifty-five participants attended the week-long workshop.
The goals of the workshop were to understand how to harmonize agricultural data collected from sites across the USA, demonstrate how a National Agricultural Data Network (NADN) might work, develop ideas for a roadmap on how to create such a network, and make recommendations to the USDA for developing an operational data network. Specific objectives were to: 1) Implement a prototype system to harmonize databases from representative NIFA and ARS projects that will make data accessible, usable, and interoperable for multiple crop models and other analyses; 2) Expand AgMIP IT tools used to operate multiple crop models to include nitrogen and phosphorus inputs and outputs and to complete translators for additional US-based cropping system models; 3) Select and document metadata and minimum variables that should be included in harmonizing data in other USDA research areas (e.g., dairy, beef, Life Cycle Assessment, and biofuels); 4) Create recommendations for USDA and a draft roadmap that will lead to broader harmonization of data with capabilities for on-line publication of harmonized, discoverable, accessible, and usable datasets.
The workshop was highly successful. An AgMIP database node was implemented on the server at the NAL with datasets from seven locations across the US harmonized as a prototype. A shared vision was developed for a “distributed network of linked, compatible agricultural databases into which researchers provide data that are easily shared among users with maximum impact of contributions and harmonized for easy discovery, open access and usability in models and statistical analyses.” The complexity of agricultural challenges facing the nation and the world are such that agricultural data stewardship and advanced tools are needed to enable sustainable production that can meet future national and international food, fiber, and bioenergy needs. A National Agricultural Data Network will accelerate progress towards sustainability and resilience to a changing climate by greatly enhancing the efficiency with which data from USDA projects are applied to research on agricultural systems analysis and modeling. A Roadmap for developing the NADN was provided to USDA along with recommendations.
May 28, 2015 - On July 20-22, 2015, the Southeast Florida Regional Climate Change Compact (“the Compact”) will convene Resilient Redesign II in collaboration with FCI. Hosted by the Florida Center for Environmental Studies on the FAU Davie Campus, the workshop will provide opportunities for researchers and practitioners to envision South Florida’s future. Architects, urban design experts, social scientists and regional planners will attend.
Last year’s workshop in Miami convened a collaboration of experts from the Netherlands and regional stakeholders met to design strategies intended to serve as models of resilience for communities throughout the region. In working group sessions, three case studies--Dense Urban, Urban, and Suburban—communities were examined for their ability to respond to climate change and disasters, among other pressures.
This time with contribution from FCI, the group will study new case studies including historical preservation sites impacted by sea-level rise and a goal to see these ideas through into action. Sites chosen for this year are locations in Key West in Monroe County, the City of Hollywood in Broward County, and Delray Beach in Palm Beach County. Teams may participate in an optional local site visits on July 19 and will then come together to develop site-specific resilient design solutions over the next two days. Presentations will be held on the morning of July 22 at the FAU Davie Campus.
In addition to the ongoing participation of FCI affiliates in various Compact Working Groups, the Resilient Redesign collaboration is another opportunity for the two partner organizations to respond to climate change issues and opportunities.
May 22, 2015 - The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) awarded the Cooperative Institute for Marine and Atmospheric Studies (CIMAS) up to $125 million to fund the consortium’s activities over the next five years. CIMAS, which is based at the University of Miami (UM) Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science, brings together the research and educational resources of ten partner universities to increase scientific understanding of Earth’s oceans and atmosphere within the context of NOAA’s mission.
The renewal award, and increase in funding, was based upon an “Outstanding” rating CIMAS received during the current award period’s performance review (2010-2015) by a NOAA Science Advisory Board subcommittee. Under the new cooperative agreement, Florida Institute of Technology (FIT) has joined the Florida and Caribbean-based university consortium, which includes: Florida Atlantic University, Florida International University, Florida State University, Nova Southeastern University, University of Puerto Rico, University of Florida, University of South Florida and University of the Virgin Islands. "CIMAS has rapidly grown in recent years and now serves a much broader NOAA community in addressing NOAA’s climate, weather and ecosystem goals," said Peter Ortner, CIMAS director and research professor at the UM Rosenstiel School.
The cooperative institute’s current research priorities, which include: improved hurricane forecasting, facilitating the implementation of ecosystem-based ocean management, prediction of climate on increasingly short time scales and support of the Global Ocean Observing System, are expected to continue over the next five years.
May 19, 2015 - Climate change may be the driving force behind fewer, yet more powerful hurricanes and tropical storms, says a Florida State geography professor. In a paper published today by Nature Climate Change, Professor Jim Elsner (FSU) and his former graduate student Namyoung Kang found that rising ocean temperatures are having an effect on how many tropical storms and hurricanes develop each year. Elsner and Kang projected that over the past 30 years, storm speeds have increased on average by 1.3 meters per second — or 3 miles per hour — and there were 6.1 fewer storms than there would have been if land and water temperatures had remained constant.
May 12, 2015 - Extreme heat kills more people in the United States than hurricanes, with many victims succumbing to heat inside their own homes. Now, a Florida State University researcher will use an Environmental Protection Agency research grant to study health outcomes for people vulnerable to extreme building temperatures. Christopher Uejio, an assistant professor in the FSU Department of Geography, will be the principal investigator on the three-year, $500,000 EPA study, “Indoor Environment and Emergency Response Health Outcomes.” The study’s co-investigator is James Tamerius of the University of Iowa, one of three institutional partners in the research, along with the Fire Department of the City of New York (FDNY) and Grady Emergency Medical Service (EMS) of Atlanta, Ga.
May 5, 2015 - In the effort to remove excess carbon dioxide from our atmosphere, mankind has an unlikely ally: fjords. The dramatic, glacier-carved inlets found from Alaska to Antarctica capture and store carbon better than other open-water marine systems, removing it from the atmosphere, says a University of Florida study published today in the journal Nature Geoscience. “Carbon sequestration is the big buzzword, but we’re still getting a handle on how it works,” said Thomas Bianchi, a UF geochemist on the team that made the discovery. In order to make informed land-use decisions and accurate climate predictions, “finding and understanding these hot spots is critical,” he said.
May 5, 2015 - Most people know the health benefits of taking daily supplements, but what about endangered corals? A new study led by University of Miami (UM) Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science researchers found that the critically endangered Staghorn coral may benefit from supplemental nutrition to mitigate the adverse impacts of global climate change. The results are the first to document that an endangered coral species, which was once found widely throughout South Florida and the Caribbean, can buffer the effects of increased CO2 in the ocean by increasing feeding rates. “Our study shows a pathway to resilience previous unknown for this particular species, which was once a dominant species in South Florida,” said UM Rosenstiel School Ph.D. student Erica Towle, lead author of the study. “This has implications for how we care for and where we out-plant Staghorn corals back onto reefs to give them the best chance for resilience possible in the future.”
April 30, 2015 -Dr. Rafael Muñoz-Carpena, Professor at IFAS Agricultural and Biological Engineering Department, has been elected Corresponding Member ("Académico") of the Royal Academy of Engineering of Spain.
The mission of the Royal Academy of Engineering of Spain is focused on the promotion of Spanish engineering in our society and on providing independent advice to public and private institutions on engineering-related matters. For this purpose it boasts 60 permanent members and 40 corresponding members from 14 countries who form a network of excellent engineering and architecture professionals. Another important objective of the Royal Academy of Engineering of Spain is to offer a forum that enables the exchange of knowledge, ideas and opinions between the engineering and corporate sectors. In short, the Academy perceives engineering as an essential ingredient of the progress and welfare of our society and, through its activities, pursues and promotes the integration of engineering in the culture of our country.
The Royal Academy of Engineering of Spain has its headquarters in the beautiful XVII century Palace of the Marquis of Villafranca, in the historical centre of Madrid, very near to the Royal Palace.
Professor Muñoz-Carpena will present his inaugural speech and receive the distinctive emblems of his new rank of "Académico" (Royal Academy medal and Member Diploma) at the ceremony in Madrid later this year.
Dr. Rafael Muñoz-Carpena has also been selected by the American Society for Agricultural and Biological Engineers (ASABE) to receive the 2015 Hancor Soil and Water Engineering Award for his exceptional accomplishments in hydrological and integrated environmental modeling and education of next generation of soil and water scientists and engineers. He has also been selected Fellow of ASABE this year.
Congratulations to Rafa on these great recognitions!
April 30, 2015 - On April 17, 2015, FCI hosted the first joint working meeting with The Southeast Florida Regional Climate Change Compact (Compact) at the Center for Environmental Studies at Florida Atlantic University Davie Campus. Together the group identified collaborative opportunities to help Florida meet the challenges of global climate change. Members of the Compact Steering Committee from Broward, Miami-Dade, Monroe and Palm Beach Counties, as well as researchers from Florida Atlantic University, Florida International University, Florida State University, University of Miami and University of Florida presented. Representatives from Florida Institute for Health Innovation, the South Florida Water Management District, Southeast Climate Consortium and Nova Southeastern University attended. Highlights included an invitation to work together on the Broward-led Resilient Redesign II, a continuation of the effort started in 2014 selecting three pilot sites for climate change related redevelopment. Miami-Dade announced that FCI would be welcome to assist for their Indicators Working Group, particularly with health impacts.
In a dynamic networking exercise, Compact and university partners explored two questions central to the meeting: How can the FCI better work with the Compact? How can the Compact better work with the FCI? A detailed list of needs and action items resulted. For example, Compact partners expressed the need to develop climate change economic models, risk assessment information, and communication strategies.
While some opportunities lend themselves to participation from universities in southeast Florida, joint efforts are open to all FCI members. Since the formal inception of the FCI-Compact partnership in 2014, both partners have expressed the desire for an inclusive working relationship promoting the ideals of the agreement: (1) to seek better alignment between public sector information/management needs and ongoing university research, and (2) to improve coordination between the Compact and FCI universities in pursuing competitive funding opportunities. Achieving these goals will ensure that together both partners are well-positioned for competitive grant opportunities and are jointly advancing Florida’s environmental, social, and economic sustainability through applied research and planning collaborations. April’s workshop represented another step on that journey.
April 24, 2015 - Carbon, held in frozen permafrost soils for tens of thousands of years, is being released as Arctic regions of the Earth warm and is further fueling global climate change, according to a Florida State University researcher. Assistant Professor of Oceanography Robert Spencer writes in Geophysical Research Letters that single-cell organisms called microbes are rapidly devouring the ancient carbon being released from thawing permafrost soil and ultimately releasing it back into the atmosphere as carbon dioxide. Increased carbon dioxide levels, of course, cause the Earth to warm and accelerate thawing. "When you have a huge frozen store of carbon and it’s thawing, we have some big questions," said Dr. Spencer. "The primary question is when it thaws, what happens to it? Our research shows this ancient carbon is rapidly utilized by microbes and transferred to the atmosphere, leading to further warming in the region and therefore more thawing. So we get into a runaway effect."
The Norman Medal was instituted and endowed in 1874 by George H. Norman and is the highest honor granted by the ASCE for a technical paper that "makes a definitive contribution to engineering." In selecting this work, the committee commended it as, " the presentation of a convincing concept and needed statistical techniques that advance knowledge of nonstationarity in hydrologic observations due to anthropogenic causes and natural processes." The award will be presented during the ASCE annual convention in New York City on October 13.
The paper was also published in the March 2014 issue of Journal of Hydrologic Engineering and selected as the year's "Best Paper" by the editors. This award will be presented at the World Environmental & Water Resources Congress in Texas in May.
April 9, 2015 - As worldwide temperatures rise and the earth sees extreme weather conditions in both summer and winter, a team of researchers with the University of Florida and Kansas State University have found that that there is potential for insects – and possibly other animals – to acclimate and rapidly evolve in the face of this current climate change.
“Organisms can deal with these stressful transitions from warm to cold by either acclimating – think about dogs putting on their winter coats – or by populations genetically evolving to deal with new stresses, a phenomenon known as rapid climate adaptation,” said Alison Gerken, a post-doctoral associate with UF’s Department of Molecular Genetics and Microbiology and the lead author of a new study, published this month in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
April 2, 2015 - While research shows that nearly all coral reef locations in the Caribbean and Gulf of Mexico will experience bleaching by mid-century, a new study showing in detail when and where bleaching will occur shows great variety in the timing and location of these harmful effects.
The new research published in Global Change Biology by NOAA scientists and colleagues provides the first fine-scale projections of coral bleaching, an important planning tool for managers.
“Our new local-scale projections will help resource managers better understand and plan for the effects of coral bleaching,” said lead author Ruben van Hooidonk, a coral and climate researcher with the Cooperative Institute for Marine and Atmospheric Studies at the University of Miami’s Rosenstiel School and NOAA’s Atlantic Oceanographic and Meteorological Laboratory.
April 1, 2015 - This series of papers, which include several FCI co-authors, describes results of a workshop where a regional hydrologic model was used to simulate the hydrology expected in the Florida Everglades in 2060 with climate changes including increased temperature, evapotranspiration, and sea level, and either an increase or decrease in rainfall. Ecologists with expertise in various areas of the ecosystem evaluated the hydrologic outputs, drew conclusions about potential ecosystem responses, and identified research needs where projections of response had high uncertainty. Resource managers participated in the workshop, and they present lessons learned regarding how the new information might be used to guide Everglades restoration in the context of climate change.
March 30, 2015 - What is the "false pause" in climate change data recently under debate? Distinguished Professor of Meteorology from Penn State Michael Mann presented his research to a rapt audience at a Geosciences Colloquium co-hosted by Center for Environmental Studies at Florida Atlantic University on February 27, 2015. Dr. Mann explained that the pause in the climate’s rise in temperature recently does not indicate a slowing in climate heating. Rather Mann and his team discovered an internal variability component--internal and forced low-frequency surface temperature variability at global and regional scales--that affects the climate directly and, when used in the climate models, does produce the false pause cooling we are experiencing now. It also indicates that the increase in temperature will begin soon and will be drastically hotter and more rapid than previously thought.
Mann said recent climate cooling is not a slowdown of our climate warming rate. Instead the false pause is part of the internal variability of the climate neglected in past models. Neglecting internal variability has created a false sense of hope and failure to prevent harmful habits discouraging anthropogenic forcing. Typically used procedures for isolating natural internal oscillations like the Atlantic- and Pacific-based internal multidecadal variability (termed “AMO” and “PMO,” respectively) do fail when tested in a model-based framework where forced and internal variability are both known prior. The AMO signal is at the maximum shallow and the PMO is trending drastically downward.
The discovery, which led other researchers to similar conclusions, explained why the climate has been so cold this past winter compared to the last 5 years. It also explained how the natural, internal climate variability has a huge effect on predicting future climate and why the climate research community had not been in doubt of this component before. Many models incorporating the internal variability got the same results. Cooperation among the climate research community has led to great advances in a short time. Mann explained how the models run with thousands of parameters run by a single computer would have taken a year for produce result. Instead, a group of intelligent people collaborated for an important discovery.
March 30, 2015 - Under the direction of Dr. Colin Polsky, at the helm of Florida Atlantic University’s Center for Environmental Studies (CES) since August 2014, a number of workshops and opportunities for climate-related exchange and collaboration are on the horizon for FCI researchers and the wider community of stakeholders in Florida.
For the Spring, CES will host a workshop allowing representatives from FCI Universities and Southeast Florida Regional Climate Change Compact to meet and exchange ideas for research and collaboration. These two institutions have just started an exciting, formal working relationship to ensure that cutting-edge climate-related research meets the needs of some of the region’s leading stakeholders.
Following the success of their February 2015 USGS-FAU “Scientist Meet & Greet,” CES will host two more technical workshops, both relating to Everglades restoration. The “Precipitation downscaling, state-of-the-science” workshop will be held June 22-23, 2015, and the “Invasive species: scientific and management frontiers” workshop will take place in July or August. Both events will be convened in the Ft. Lauderdale area.
Continuing the popular series of Sea-Level Rise Summits pioneered by Emeritus CES Director Dr. Leonard Berry, CES plans for early 2016 “A Warming Arctic: Shared Futures from Alaska to Florida.” The meeting will convene leading researchers, decision-makers, and other interested stakeholders to discuss the state of sea-level rise science, and how public policy and private adaptation efforts can lessen the impacts everywhere.
And somewhere on the horizon, CES hopes to convene one more meeting based on the subject “Architecture/design responses to sea-level rise in the built environment.” The academic year 2015-2016 promises to be a year full productive conversation and scientific advancement.
March 27, 2015 - The University of Florida is one of 10 institutions selected to be part of a White House initiative aimed at keeping students enrolled in science, technology, engineering and math, or STEM, fields.
During its 5th annual science fair earlier this week, the White House announced its $240 million pledge to further boost STEM initiatives around the country. Included was a description of the new University Innovation Freshman (#uifresh) campaign that will aim to improve retention rates among STEM students in their first year of college.
According to a report published by the President’s Council of Advisors on Science & Technology, 60 percent of students who arrive at college intending to major in STEM subjects will change their majors, often in their first year. The #uifresh campaign is run by the National Center for Engineering Pathways to Innovation, or Epicenter. The campaign, funded by the National Science Foundation and directed by Stanford University and VentureWell, aims to halt and reverse this trend and encourage more students to complete STEM degrees.
“The University of Florida is one of the largest producers of STEM degrees in the nation, and this initiative will help us become an even bigger contributor at the national level,” Provost Joe Glover said.
March 25, 2015 - Reef-building corals, already thought to be living near their upper thermal limits, are experiencing unprecedented declines as the world's oceans continue to warm. New evidence from scientists at Florida Institute of Technology shows there may be some climate refuges where corals will survive in the future. The study appears in the March issue of Global Change Biology.
Ph.D. student Chris Cacciapaglia and his advisor, Robert van Woesik, hypothesized that not all regions of the oceans are warming at the same rate. "The idea was to identify regions that will experience little temperature change by the year 2100 --refuges where coral survival is most likely," Cacciapaglia said. Although their models show significant loss of corals as the oceans warm, they also highlight 12 areas -- five in the Indian Ocean and seven in the Pacific -- where corals are likely to survive at least until 2100. "These refuges should be essential for coral survival into the future, and these locations deserve protection," said van Woesik. Van Woesik emphasized that local marine protected areas are not the only viable management option. The new study points to global sanctuaries as a more comprehensive management strategy.
March 15, 2015 - In response to several inquiries about the FCI’s response to the allegations about Governor Scott’s unwritten rules regarding the use of the words “climate change” and “global warming” by state agencies in communications, a statement was provided to news agencies and local media. FCI @ UF Director James Jones provided the statement found here:
March 11, 2015 - Visitors can discover 70 million years of climate change on Earth in a new exhibit now open at the Florida Museum of Natural History in Gainesville. The “Our Changing Climate: Past and Present” exhibit uses large-format graphs showing major historic events to present the story of Earth’s changing climate over geologic time. The exhibit also highlights how Earth’s climate fluctuates and what global trends are affecting life today.
March 2, 2015 - The FCI at the University of Florida hosted 2 international events to explore the impacts of climate on global agriculture. The first event brought together pest and diseases specialists from 10 countries for 2.5 days of team building and solution-oriented research collaborations. See more at http://conference.ifas.ufl.edu/pest/index.html.
The second event was the AgMIP 5th Global Workshop which brought researchers in agronomy, economics, climate, and data optimization together toward solutions for food security issues facing the growing population globally. See more at http://www.agmip.org/
March 2, 2015 -“Changing the Atmosphere: Anthropology and Climate Change” is the final report of the American Anthropological Association’s (AAA) Global Climate Change Task Force. The report’s objectives are: to provide a guiding document on anthropology and climate change in its broadest sense, including anthropology’s contributions to, and concerns about, climate change and climate change policy and discourse; to provide commentary on interdisciplinary research and climate change policy and discourse; to provide commentary on interdisciplinary research and relationships; and to identify research frontiers for anthropology with respect to climate change. The audiences for the report are the AAA Executive Board and the anthropological discipline; interdisciplinary colleagues, organizations, and institutions; and ultimately and ideally, policymakers, the media, and the general public. This Executive Summary provides readers with a short description of the highlights and sections of the Report, including the Conclusions and Recommendations (both more fully developed over the course of the report and specifically in Sections 7.0 and 8.0, respectively).
The report has the following foci in its approach: (a) human causes and contributions to climate change and the problematizing of human drivers; (b) the identification of lessons learned about human adaptation, survival and change over long time periods; (c) the critique of central concepts used in climate policy on global, state and local levels (adaptation, vulnerability and resilience); (d) the importance of the local and community engagement; and (e) interdisciplinary strengths and opportunities, and research priorities for the future for anthropology and global environmental change.
February 26, 2015 - Collaboration between US Geological Service (USGS) and Florida Atlantic University (FAU) scientists will continue to flourish and hopefully increase, thanks to a jointly-hosted event held on February 6, 2015 at the Florida Center for Environmental Studies (CES) on the FAU Davie Campus. The trans-disciplinary meeting aimed to strengthen partnerships between the two groups, which since 2014 have neighboring office space in the Davie West Building. By sharing research interests and facilitating conversations, both teams hope to develop new linkages among participants and strengthen existing ones.
After opening remarks, each of the 30 researchers had two minutes to present two slides highlighting their individual research backgrounds and interests. Experts presented their work in fields such as biology, civil engineering and geosciences. Other colleagues showcased the answers they’re seeking in hydrology, carbon cycling, ecological modeling and human dimensions. Subsequent break-out groups and informal networking provided opportunities to identify common goals and needs and to make connections.
Dr. Colin Polsky, Director of CES, said, “The meeting exemplified the kind of interaction CES is known for—interaction between scientists in diverse fields with the chance to advance Sustainability Science.”
February 23, 2015 - Over the last four decades, the iconic elkhorn and staghorn corals that dominated Caribbean reefs for millions of years have all but disappeared. According to a new study from Florida Institute of Technology, ocean warming has played a significant role in this dramatic decline. The results of the study also suggest that limiting the rate of ocean warming, which would require curbing greenhouse gas emissions, could support the recovery of these critical reef-building corals.
White-band disease is a widespread coral disease that affects elkhorn and staghorn corals, and this disease has been plaguing these corals for decades. Florida Tech Ph.D. student Carly Randall and her faculty advisor, Robert van Woesik, studied the relationship between ocean temperatures and white-band disease and reported their findings in the February issue of Nature Climate Change. The study was posted this morning on the journal’s website at http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/nclimate2530.
February 18, 2015 - Small wireless computing devices, ranging from the size of a matchbox to the size of a dime are going to change the way Florida monitors its water quality, sea level rise, hurricanes, agriculture, aquaculture, and even its aging senior population. The types of sensing devices developed by computer scientist Jason Hallstrom, Ph.D., who recently joined Florida Atlantic University, can collect information about the surrounding environment and transmit that information to cloud-based computing systems that store, analyze and present that information to educators, researchers and decision-makers. Deployable at massive scales, the technology represents a paradigm shift in how our world is observed and managed.
February 4, 2015 - The project will deploy a towed camera system called C-BASS (Camera-Based Survey Assessment System). Developed at the USF Center for Marine Technology, C-BASS will be deployed to determine the density, species composition and size structure of fishes using the various habitats.
"This set of studies will use state-of-the-art ocean imaging technologies to better understand and protect habitats off the west coast of Florida,” said College of Marine Science Dean Jackie Dixon."
January 21, 2015 - A new University of Central Florida study is sounding the alarm about climate change and its potential impact on more than 30 years of conservation efforts to keep sea turtles around for the next generation.
Climate change is causing sea-level rise, and how coastal communities react to that rise could have dire consequences for sea turtles and other wildlife that rely on an unobstructed beach for survival. That's the conclusion of a University of Central Florida study recently published in Chelonian Conservation and Biology.
Llewellyn Ehrhart, a biology professor emeritus at UCF, began studying sea turtles in what later became the Archie Carr National Wildlife Refuge in southern Brevard County 31 years ago. By documenting the number of turtles laying eggs, the number of eggs that hatch and how many turtles make it to the water, he was able to demonstrate what is documented fact today: The 13-mile stretch of beach in southern Brevard is one of the most important nesting habitats for green and loggerhead turtles in the western hemisphere.
January 20, 2015 - As the Earth warms and glaciers all over the world begin to melt, researchers and public policy experts have focused largely on how all of that extra water will contribute to sea level rise. But another impact lurking in that inevitable scenario is carbon. More specifically, what happens to all of the organic carbon found in those glaciers when they melt?
That’s the focus of a new paper by a research team that includes Florida State University assistant professor Robert Spencer. The study, published in Nature Geoscience, is the first global estimate by scientists at what happens when major ice sheets break down.
“This is the first attempt to figure out how much organic carbon is in glaciers and how much will be released when they melt,” Spencer said. “It could change the whole food web. We do not know how different ecological systems will react to a new influx of carbon.”
January 16, 2015 - Do you know why El Niño forecasts are so important? Robert O. Lawton Distinguished Professor James O’Brien, the guy that former Florida State University President Bernie Sliger referred to as “Dr. El Niño,” sure does. El Niño is defined by prolonged warming of sea surface temperatures in the Pacific Ocean. But researchers, including O’Brien, found over the years that those conditions often concoct the perfect storm of conditions for hurricanes and tornadoes. In the mid 1980s, he was one of three scientists recruited by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration to build models to predict when we were about to experience the weather phenomenon. And when most of his colleagues began looking at how that weather pattern affected South America and Asia, he turned his attention to the United States, churning out predictions of how many hurricanes and tornadoes the country might experience. “I started out as an ocean modeler, putting math in the computer and then participating in building early prediction models,” he said.
Because of his contributions to this field, O’Brien is being recognized as a fellow of the International Union of Geodesy and Geophysics, a global organization dedicated to advancing research of the Earth and its environment. Franz Kuglitsch, executive secretary for the organization, said O’Brien received the honor for his exceptional contributions to “international cooperation in geoscience” and for having “attained eminence in the field of Earth and space sciences.” O’Brien, an accomplished meteorologist, has worked at Florida State for more than 40 years. “I was honored and surprised by the award,” O’Brien said. O’Brien, who received his bachelor’s degree from Rutgers University and his doctoral degree from Texas A&M University, is the retired director of the Center for Ocean-Atmospheric Prediction Studies (COAPS). He retired as the center’s director in 2006, but remains actively involved in the university and in his field as a professor emeritus. Eric Chassignet, O’Brien’s successor at the COAPS, called his colleague a “dynamic force.” “His work on coastal upwelling, El Niño/La Niña, and climate variability have made lasting contributions,” Chassignet said. “Not only is he known for his scientific work and his service to the community — he also has an impressive record of student mentorship. In recent years, he has worked to ensure that the next generation of scientists has the full set of skills necessary to move forward in their careers. It was his vision and relentless energy that led to the creation of COAPS, and we are grateful that even in retirement he continues to give his time and expertise to our center.”
O’Brien will be presented with the award in July in Prague.
January 13, 2015 - For every degree Celsius that the temperature increases, the world stands to lose 6 percent of its wheat crop, according to a new global study led by a University of Florida scientist. That’s one fourth of the annual global wheat trade, which reached 147 million tons in 2013.
Senthold Asseng, a UF professor of agricultural and biological engineering, used a computer model approach to reach the finding of temperature increases and wheat production.
“We started this with wheat, as wheat is one of the world’s most important food crops,” said Asseng, whose team’s study was published online Dec. 22 in the journal Nature Climate Change. “The simulations with the multi-crop models showed that warming is already slowing yield gains, despite observed yield increases in the past, at a majority of wheat-growing locations across the globe.”
January 12, 2015 - The balmy islands of Seychelles couldn’t feel farther from Antarctica, but their fossil corals could reveal much about the fate of polar ice sheets.
About 125,000 years ago, the average global temperature was only slightly warmer, but sea levels rose high enough to submerge the locations of many of today’s coastal cities. Understanding what caused seas to rise then could shed light on how to protect those cities today.
By examining fossil corals found on the Indian Ocean islands, University of Florida geochemist Andrea Dutton found evidence that global mean sea level during that period peaked at 20 to 30 feet above current levels. Dutton’s team of international researchers concluded that rapid retreat of an unstable part of the Antarctic ice sheet was a major contributor to that sea-level rise.
January 9, 2015 - On December 12, 2014, Dr. Leonard Berry was honored for his work in understanding climate change with the President’s Distinguished Service Medallion, awarded to individuals who have rendered service of great value to Florida Atlantic University (FAU) and the community at large, for example, US Senator Bill Nelson. Upon receiving the award, Dr. Berry said, “It was an acknowledgement at the university level of the importance of this topic.”
A lead author of Chapter 17, Southeast and the Caribbean, of the National Climate Assessment, Dr. Berry has worked on climate change issues locally, nationally and globally for over 40 years. He is the founder and immediate past Director (1994-2014) of the Florida Center for Environmental Studies, Emeritus Professor of Geosciences and the Director of the Climate Change Initiative at FAU. He is also an Executive Committee member of The Florida Climate Institute (FCI). In April 2012, he testified to the United States Senate full committee on Natural Resources and Energy on the impacts of sea level rise in Florida.
He has worked on environmental research and development training programs for USAID, UNDP, UNESCO, GEF and UNEP, and the World Bank. He is a core member of the Inter-American Water Resources Network, The Southeast Florida Regional Climate Change Compact’s sea level rise technical working group, Florida Department of Economic Opportunity Community Resilience Group, Public Water Supply Utilities Climate Impacts Working Group, National Council for Science and the Environment, and the WaterWeb Consortium, an international water information group. Dr. Berry continues his work in climate change with FCI.
December 8, 2014 - A new study on tropical shallow-water soft corals, known as gorgonians, found that the species were able to calcify and grow under elevated carbon dioxide concentrations. These results suggest that Caribbean gorgonian corals may be more resilient to the ocean acidification levels projected by the end of the 21st century than previously thought.
An international team of scientists, including from the University of Miami (UM) Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science (RSMAS), tested the effects of elevated CO2 concentrations on the growth and calcification rates of the sea rod, Eunicea fusca, a type of gorgonian or soft coral found throughout the Bahamas, Bermuda, South Florida and into the Gulf of Mexico. Researchers collected E. fusca specimens from Big Pine Shoals in the Florida Keys to simulate a range of predicted future ocean acidification conditions – CO2 concentrations from 285-2,568 parts per million (pH range 8.1-7.1) – during a four-week experiment at the UM Rosenstiel School’s Coral Reefs and Climate Change Laboratory. Eunicea fusca showed a negative response to calcification under elevated CO2 concentrations, but growth and calcification did not stop under any of the CO2 levels used in the study.
December 8, 2014 - The effects of climate change are already showing up in places from Miami to Alaska, scientists say, but two University of Florida geologists are focusing their attention on one especially noteworthy and vulnerable piece of waterfront real estate: Kennedy Space Center. What’s more, they say, the problem could affect operations at the space center within the next decade. “We were a little blind to it, like pre-Katrina New Orleans,” said one of the researchers, assistant professor Peter Adams of the UF Geological Sciences department. “Now that we’ve seen it, we’re sensitive to it.” Adams and associate professor of geology John Jaeger, who have been studying Cape Canaveral’s dunes and beach since 2009, say the impacts became most apparent after Hurricane Sandy. “Sandy got a lot of press up north, but it really did a tremendous amount of damage at Cape Canaveral,” Jaeger said. “Areas that had previously been relatively stable for decades … suddenly they were gone.” Adams said a combination of climate change-related sea-level rise and increased wave energy is almost certainly to blame.
December 4, 2014 - The US Department of Energy (DOE) on Tuesday recognized Broward County and the Southeast Florida Regional Climate Change Compact (“Compact”) as Climate Action Champions following a nationwide competition. Only sixteen cities, regions, and tribal governments across the county were selected as the first cohort of Climate Action Champions. Broward County and the partners in the 4-County Compact join Seattle, San Francisco, Portland (OR), Boston, Minneapolis, the DC metro area, and other climate-leader communities.
The designation honors the “decisive action to cut carbon pollution and build resilience” already undertaken by the four Compact counties—Broward, Palm Beach, Miami-Dade, and Monroe. Since its establishment in 2009, the Compact has produced a series of technical planning documents providing a common framework for planning, including a unified sea level rise projection; published a five-year Regional Climate Action Plan (RCAP) and undertaken significant efforts to implement its 110 recommendations; and held annual summits reaching hundreds of local and regional leaders.
December 3, 2014 - Will vector-borne diseases such as Dengue Fever and West Nile Virus increase along with sea level rise? Florida Atlantic University (FAU) continues to support the Florida Institute for Health Innovation (FIHI, formerly FPHI) in its work studying climate change related health risks. The project has been made possible by a $250,000 grant from the Kresge Foundation to FIHI over a two year period ending in 2015. (See related article.)
FAU’s Department of Civil, Environmental, and Geomatics Engineering teamed with FAU’s School of Urban and Regional Planning to provide GIS data mapping and analysis. Combined with health data from the Florida Department of Health, researchers are seeking to identify populations in Southeastern Florida vulnerable to the effects of sea level rise and to determine if these populations will be at an increased risk for disease as sea levels rise. This phase of the project focuses on cryptosporidiosis, giardiasis, vector-borne diseases, vibriosis, and salmonellosis.
Project planning committee member Dr. Colin Polsky, Director of the Center for Environmental Studies at FAU (CES), said the project is in line with the Center’s vision of improving Florida's sustainability through research, education and outreach on ecology, climate change, and society: "The interdisciplinary nature of the project is the kind CES is designed to support. Targeted research in the health domain is particularly needed, and addressing this need puts CES on the cutting edge.”
For more information on climate change research and education at FAU’s Center for Environmental Studies, please visit www.ces.fau.edu.
December 3, 2014 - Dr. Thomas Bianchi (UF), Dr. Mead Allison, and collaborators are developing a high-resolution record of the climate from the Holocene into the late Pleistocene in the Arctic, using sediment from the Beaufort Sea in Alaska. In a Q&A published in International Innovation, they jointly describe the reasons for studying the climate record in this region, and how the different members of their term converged to effectively do so.
November 19, 2014 - A new study by a Florida State University biologist shows that bleaching events brought on by rising sea temperatures are having a detrimental long-term impact on coral.
Professor Don Levitan, chair of the Department of Biological Science, writes in the latest issue of Marine Ecology Progress Series that bleaching — a process where high water temperatures or UV light stresses the coral to the point where it loses its symbiotic algal partner that provides the coral with color — is also affecting the long-term fertility of the coral.
October 31, 2014 - The Florida Climate Institute at UF has awarded its 2014-15 Faculty Fellows. Dr. Jane Southworth and Jonathan Dain received this year’s award for their superior contributions to the FCI and its programs on the UF campus and abroad. Both fellows receive a 3 year stipend in recognition of their efforts in climate research, education, and outreach. Dr. Jane Southworth is a Professor in the Department of Geography and Jonathan Dain is the Director of the Florida Natural Resources Leadership Institute and faculty in the Center for Latin American Studies. Congratulations to both on their well-deserved awards!
October 30, 2014 - Along South Florida’s coast a yearly event known as the King Tide has become an inconvenience to residents--the abnormally high tide pushes into sewage pipes and drowns roads in its path. The King Tide occurs when the sun and the moon are the closest to the earth. Over time the flooding has been getting more severe and has caused the local government millions of dollars in repairs. As a reprisal, local counties have implemented various methods to combat the flooding this year. Miami Beach has installed $15 million dollars’ worth of pumps to save the beachfront from excessive flooding, which is part of its five-year plan to protect the area from the consequences of sea level rise. The pumps have minimized the flooding to a more manageable amount; however, this temporary solution may not be the correct way to solve a progressing problem. A study done on tidal flooding using data collected for the White House’s National Climate Assessment illustrates how the flooding will increase over time, especially in Miami and Key West, due to sea level rise and the lack of preventative measures being taken.
The highest peak of the tide was predicted to be on Wednesday, October 8th but due to rain and the aid from the pumps the highest was recorded on Tuesday, October 7th. In Fort Lauderdale, Broward County installed 44 special tidal valves that helped combat flooding. Since King Tide flooding is predicted to occur more frequently as sea level continues to rise, the question is, where are the long term solutions? Natural events like these represent a perfect opportunity for informing the public and government officials about the costs of sea level rise adaptation and mitigation.
October 30, 2014 - The Florida Center for Environmental Studies (CES) at FAU begins an exciting new chapter and welcomes a new Director, Dr. Colin Polsky. CES has updated their mission of improving Florida's sustainability through research, education and outreach on ecology, climate change, and society.
In August 2014, Dr. Polsky joined FAU as Professor of Geosciences and successor to Dr. Leonard Berry, who founded CES in 1994 and remains active as Emeritus Professor of Geosciences. Dr. Polsky joins Dr. Berry on the Executive Board of the Florida Climate Institute (FCI).
Dr. Polsky is trained as a geographer, specializing in the Human Dimensions of Global Environmental Change. His programs of study and postdoctoral work in mathematics, humanities, French, geography, and Science & International Affairs (from U. Texas, Penn State, and Harvard, respectively) have led to a sustained interest in advancing knowledge of U.S. climate vulnerabilities, in both methodological and applied terms.
In addition to multiple NSF grants, peer-reviewed articles and co-authored books, Polsky has served as co-Convening Lead Author for a chapter in the 2013 National Climate Assessment, served on NRC, NSF, and USGCRP committees, and prepared reviews for several IPCC reports.
For more information on climate change research and education at FAU’s Center for Environmental studies, please visit http://www.ces.fau.edu
October 30, 2014 - In 2011, the interagency group known as the Compact Sea Level Rise (SLR) Working Group, organized by the Southeast Florida Regional Climate Change Compact, came to an agreement on the projections for sea level rise that the Compact would use for sea level change up to the year 2060. In light of this year’s IPCC Report from NOAA, revised SLR Considerations from the U. S. Army Corps of Engineers, and the 2014 National Climate Assessment SLR projections, the Compact SLR Working Group is now meeting again to update the projections through 2100. Led by Dr. Samantha Danchuk, P.E., Assistant Director, Environmental Planning and Community Resilience Division, Broward County, group members include representatives from several South Florida universities and municipalities, and the South Florida Water Management District.
October 21, 2014 - The College of Agriculture and Food Sciences announces that Charles Magee, Ph.D., professor of Biological and Agricultural Systems Engineering (BASE), has received a four-year grant of $800,000 from the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) to provide scholarships for students majoring in BASE. Starting October 1, 2014 through September 30, 2018, the BASE program will receive $200,000 per year in scholarship funds. Each year, 14-16 high school and college students will receive scholarships ranging from $8,000 to $16,000 dollars. This $800,000 scholarship award is believed to be the largest scholarship award any federal agency has given to a single academic program at FAMU.
October 2, 2014 - Daniel Solís, Ph.D., Assistant Professor at FAMU’s College of Agriculture and Food receives the 2014 - 2015 FAMU’s Faculty Research Award for his research project: "The Effect of IFQs on the Total Productivity of the U.S. Gulf of Mexico Red Snapper Industry". With grant support from The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, this Agribusiness Program professor, set a goal to analyze the impact of regulations and climate variability on the technical efficiency and composition of the Gulf of Mexico Red Snapper commercial fleet. For more details, please visit: http://dsolisw.weebly.com/
October 2, 2014 - A partnership between the Southeast Florida Regional Climate Change Compact (Compact) and the Florida Climate Institute (FCI) aims to increase the effectiveness of current collaborations among Florida’s institutions of higher learning and the local governments and regional agencies of Southeast Florida. The purpose of the Partnership Agreement, signed Wednesday, October 1 in Miami, is to seek better alignment between public sector information and management needs and ongoing research objectives, to improve coordination among the parties in pursuing competitive research funding opportunities, and to assure that the best and brightest ideas emerging from Florida’s world-class institutions are well positioned for implementation in supporting Southeast Florida’s efforts to adapt to climate change and sea level rise and transition to a more resilient economy and coastal infrastructure.
Created in 2009 by forward-thinking elected officials, the Compact has emerged as one of the preeminent regional metropolitan climate change governance models nationally and globally. The collaboration and coordination across cities and counties and among federal, state, and local agencies has advanced the region rather quickly toward increased shared aspirations for greater climate resilience and reductions in regional emissions. Likewise, the Florida Climate Institute, created in 2010, is a path-breaking collaboration among eight of Florida’s world-class universities that serves as a multidisciplinary network for research and education aimed at helping Florida meet the many challenges of global climate change. Together, the Compact and FCI recognize that responsible action on global climate change will require the talents and insights of nearly every academic discipline from primary climate science to architecture, agriculture, and engineering, and from the arts and humanities to ecology and finance.
October 1, 2014 - Dr. Ni-Bin Chang, Professor and Director of the University of Central Florida’s Stormwater Management Academy, Rahim Harji, Pinellas County’s Watershed Management Unit Manager, and Thomas Ruppert, Florida Sea Grant Coastal Planning Specialist, were awarded a grant from Florida Sea Grant titled “Coupling Risk and Resilience Assessment for Networked Sustainable Drainage Systems in a Coastal City under Climate Change Impact.” The team will assist Pinellas County to implement an effective, efficient, and resilient stormwater system in the Cross Bayou Watershed of Pinellas County that increases infrastructure resilience and robustness by incorporating low impact development (LID) controls and flood proofing technologies to harmonize existing storm sewer systems under climate change and sea-level rise scenarios.
This project is motivated by the fact that there are no standard methods/criteria/matrices to measure the sustainability of coastal stormwater sewer systems in terms of resilience and robustness in association with varying risk levels of episodic disturbances including climate variability and sea-level rise scenarios. This project proposes a new concept, the networked sustainable drainage systems, which are featured by ‘system of systems’ or "network of networks" characteristics (i.e., with cascade effect) that should be less vulnerable to flood impact under climate variability and sea-level rise. The project will provide a suite of quantitative tools and methods to build an innovative platform via coupling the risk and resilience assessment to pave a pathway for producing adaptive stormwater management strategies for Pinellas County Government. This advancement will: 1) inform the County engineering solutions to flood hazards, 2) allow Pinellas County to implement its current policies seeking to promote LID, 3) serve as a model for innovative stormwater management technique in the County, 4) incorporate climate change and sea-level rise impacts into stormwater infrastructure in the County, 5) review policies or plan of the County for a better cost-benefit-risk trade-off for stormwater management in the County, 6) deliver the final products to local and regional partners by a series of outreach activities, and 7) disseminate new knowledge to help the County optimize future planning and design of networked sustainable drainage systems.
September 30, 2014 - Warm temperatures and a wet landscape increase soil’s ability to store carbon, which in turn helps mitigate greenhouse gas emissions, according to a new University of Florida study covering 45 years of data.
Soil-stored carbon can slow the build-up of carbon-based gases in the atmosphere, a phenomenon believed to be a cause of global climate change. So it’s vital to preserve soil carbon, said Sabine Grunwald, a UF soil and water science professor who led the research.
September 16, 2014 - A new study by Florida State University researchers demonstrates a different way of projecting a hurricane’s strength and intensity that could give the public a better idea of a storm’s potential for destruction.
Vasu Misra, associate professor of meteorology and co-director of the Florida Climate Institute, and fourth-year doctoral student Michael Kozar introduce in the Monthly Weather Review of the American Meteorological Society a new statistical model that complements hurricane forecasting by showing the size of storms, not just the wind speed.
The model predicts the amount of integrated kinetic energy within Atlantic tropical cyclones. This kinetic energy metric is related to the overall size and strength of a storm, not just the maximum wind speed. Predictions of this metric complement existing forecasting tools, potentially allowing forecasters to better assess the risk of hurricanes that make landfall.
September 2, 2014 - This report was led by the FCI's Dr. Reed Noss and funded by the Kresge Foundation and the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission. The study focuses on vulnerability of species and natural communities to interacting threats from sea level rise and projected land-use change (primarily urbanization), with some attention also to temperature and precipitation change. A range of adaptation options was analyzed for ca. 300 species and 30 natural communities of conservation concern.
August 29, 2014 - Thanks to co-authors Alicia Betancourt and Maia McGuire, along with contributors Libby Carnahan, JP Gellermann and Mary Campbell, the Sustainable FloridiansSM program has a new module. The module, Climate Change and Sea Level Rise, was reviewed by Libby Carnahan and Gary Mitchum (USF) and consists of a PowerPoint presentation, a pdf of the PowerPoint presentation including the notes, lesson plan/facilitator outline, evaluation and post-test, action plan, and resources list.
August 29, 2014 - The Florida Climate Institute has developed the Florida CARES center request that will bring together prominent universities across the State in partnership with state and regional agencies and the business community to create an economy more resilient to risks from hurricane damage, periodic droughts and floods, higher sea levels, and future climate trends. It will develop research and deliver education programs in support of Florida’s major economic engines (e.g., tourism, agriculture, trade, transportation and coastal marine resources). Working with partners from industries and agencies, it will help develop the workforce to manage Florida’s resources while growing its economy. Florida CARES will make Florida more competitive through its collaborative research and training programs, and create marketable expertise and technologies to meet the increasing demands of the state’s future.
August 14, 2014 - To continue momentum under the Climate Data Initiative, the Obama Administration is renewing the President’s call to America’s private-sector innovators to leverage open government data and other resources to build tools that will make the U.S. and global food systems more resilient against the impacts of climate change. In response to this call, today’s launch includes a number of commitments by Federal agencies and private-sector collaborators to combat climate change and support food resilience through data-driven innovation.
The Agricultural Model Intercomparison & Improvement Program and the Center for Integrated Modeling of Sustainable Agriculture and Nutrition Security. The Agricultural Model Intercomparison & Improvement Program (AgMIP) and the Center for Integrated Modeling of Sustainable Agriculture and Nutrition Security (CIMSANS), in partnership with the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI), are announcing a new public-private partnership on open data and open-source code modeling to enhance the climate-resilience of food systems. The new partnership will secure the resources and expertise necessary to evaluate seven novel nutrition and sustainability metrics of global food systems, including all of the world’s important staple and non-staple foods, through the year 2050.
Monsanto. Monsanto is announcing that it will donate a multi-site/multi-year maize breeding trial dataset to open data portals maintained by the International Center for Tropical Agriculture (CIAT) and the Agricultural Model Intercomparison & Improvement Project (AgMIP). Opening these data will it make it possible for public- and private-sector scientists to improve models being used to understand how climate and water-availability changes will impact crop productivity and therefore food security. Monsanto is also partnering with a number of external scientists in the AgMIP community to improve one of the leading publicly available crop-growth simulation models (AgMaize).
August 6, 2014 - New research by a Florida State University geography professor shows that climate change may be playing a key role in the strength and frequency of tornadoes hitting the United States.
Published Wednesday in the journal Climate Dynamics, Professor James Elsner writes that though tornadoes are forming fewer days per year, they are forming at a greater density and strength than ever before. So, for example, instead of one or two forming on a given day in an area, there might be three or four occurring.
July 8, 2014 - Drs. Mark Powell (NOAA/FSU) and Steve Cocke (FSU) are part of a new collaboration between NOAA and the Dept. of Energy to collect data that could lead to improved offshore wind turbine designs. Powell's efforts will involve boundary layer research, and Cocke will work on hurricane risk modelling.
June 26, 2014 - At the latest in a series of workshops known as InTeGrate: Teaching about Risk and Resilience, educators and managers learned about transferring actionable knowledge on climate change and disaster preparedness to relevant sectors, including policy-makers and the general public.
InTeGrate, a project funded by the National Science Foundation, brought sixty professionals, including scientists and researchers, to the Florida Atlantic University (FAU) campus in Boca Raton, Florida on May 14-16, 2014. A central question in the series is, “How do we prepare students for careers where they can make useful and valuable contributions that mitigate risks and increase resilience in the face of a growing population and changing environment?” The interdisciplinary project was developed by Cathy Manduca, Director of the Science Education Resource Center (SERC) at Carleton College and David Blockstein, National Council for Science and the Environment. For the May workshop Leonard Berry, Director of the Florida Center for Environmental Studies (CES) at FAU, Mantha Mehallis at FAU’s College of Business and John Taberof IRIS (Incorporated Research Institutions for Seismology) joined the team to develop the workshop topic of Risk and Resilience.
In his opening keynote address, Berry set the stage by summarizing the key concepts of risk and resilience. He spoke about the work required of the community in sharing risk and the effective collaboration demonstrated by the Four County Climate Change Compact in South Florida. He advocated using an interdisciplinary approach and the realities of climate change politics. He also posed a question, “Does resilience need to increase as risk increases?”
In response, Ricardo A. Alvarez, former Deputy Director, International Hurricane Center, Research Affiliate at CES, spoke about the challenges of interpreting science to vulnerable communities. After extolling the use of real life case studies in teaching about risk and resilience, he and Nancy Gassman, Assistant Director of Public Works Sustainability, City of Fort Lauderdale, presented a sea level rise scenario from South Florida, while Mark Benthien of University of Southern California (USC) and Keith Porter of SPA Risk LLC presented an earthquake scenario from California.
Panel discussions led to breakout discussions related to flooding, coastal erosion, water-management, and seasonal, extreme high tides. For example, participants most interested in the Fort Lauderdale case study noted the indirect impact of Hurricane Sandy exacerbated by sea level rise. The session, moderated by Eileen Johnson of Bowdoin College, examined the scientific and engineering aspect of the study, and addressed teaching the subject matter to undergraduates.
Rounding out the team of workshop presenters and conveners, Monica Bruckner of SERC at Carleton College and Mary Beth Hartman of CES at FAU coordinated and hosted the event.
For more information on climate change research and education at FAU’s Center for Environmental studies, please visit http://www.ces.fau.edu
May 30, 2014 - Scientists at Florida State University’s Center for Ocean-Atmospheric Prediction Studies (COAPS) believe this year’s hurricane season, starting June 1, will be a quiet one. In the center’s sixth annual Atlantic hurricane forecast, FSU scientists predict that there is a 70 percent chance of five to nine named storms this year and two to six hurricanes. The average is seven named storms, four of them hurricanes, and an average accumulated cyclone energy (a measure of the strength and duration of storms accumulated during the season) of 60. The primary reason for the below normal numbers, said lead scientist Timothy LaRow, is that an El Niño — or warmer than normal water temperatures — is forecast to develop in the tropical Pacific. “El Niño develops when sea surface temperatures in the eastern equatorial Pacific Ocean are warmer than normal for several consecutive months, leading to increased vertical wind shear in the Atlantic, which can disrupt developing tropical systems,” LaRow said. “How quickly and how intense the El Niño becomes will determine its impact on the North Atlantic hurricane season.” The 2014 North Atlantic hurricane forecast numbers are based on 60 individual seasonal atmospheric forecasts conducted at FSU on its High Performance Computing Cluster using sea surface temperatures predicted by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) climate model. LaRow’s forecast is developed using a unique atmospheric model created at FSU that has had remarkable success in predicting seasonal tropical activity. Since 1995, when the North Atlantic entered the period of heightened activity, the model has predicted 14.1 named storms and 7.9 hurricanes per year compared to the observed 14.7 named storms and 7.7 hurricanes. The model is one of only a handful of climate models being used to study seasonal hurricane activity. Hurricane season begins June 1 and runs through Nov. 30.
May 30, 2014 - Florida Atlantic University (FAU) continues studying the effects of sea level rise in South Florida with a new focus on climate change related health risks. The Florida Public Health Institute (FPHI) serves as the lead on the project, made possible by a $250,000 grant from the Kresge Foundation over a two year period. Project Lead Dr. Leonard Berry, Director of the Center for Environmental Studies at FAU (CES), said the project provides CES the opportunity to expand its area of study. “Of all the potential impacts of sea-level rise, health may be one of the least studied and yet is one of the most important. This grant will enable us to begin to redress this imbalance.”
According to FHIP, potential health risks include water quality changes such as saltwater intrusion, landfill/brownfield seepage, higher levels of sewage and toxic pollutants, increasing rates of waterborne diseases, and higher rates of respiratory-related illness due to increasing levels of airborne allergens such as mold exposure.
The project resulted from four years of collaboration between Debora Kerr (FPHI Chief Operating Officer) and Nicole Hernandez Hammer, Co-Principal Investigator (FAU). Researchers will map storm-related health data across time and geography in Palm Beach, Broward, Miami-Dade and Monroe C ounties. Hammer and Co-Principal Investigators from FAU, Drs. Frederick Bloetscher and Diana Mitsova, will be overlaying health data onto FAU-developed groundwater maps. The funding represents one of the many outcomes of the October 2013 Sea Level Rise Summit hosted by FAU.
Contributing to the health data collection are Kristina Kitzinger and Meredith Jagger, leads on the Florida BRACE Project, one of fourteen national initiatives of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Building Resilience Against Climate Effects initiatives.
For more information on climate change research and education at FAU’s Center for Environmental studies, please visit http://www.ces.fau.edu.
Kathleen Ruppert has devoted her professional career to educating, inspiring, and empowering students to become changemakers in the world. She has portrayed tremendous dedication within the area of sustainable education by encouraging real-world sustainability projects through teaching a capstone course and by helping to extend both the UF Prairie Project and the Sustainable Floridians program.
May 29, 2014 - Yesterday, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) released the third edition of a report, Climate Change Indicators in the United States. The report pulls together observed data on key measures of our environment, including U.S. and global temperature and precipitation, ocean heat and ocean acidity, sea level, length of growing season, and many others. With 30 indicators that include over 80 maps and graphs showing long-term trends, the report demonstrates that climate change is already affecting our environment and our society.
May 5, 2014 - New research by a team of Florida State University scientists shows the first detailed look at global land surface warming trends over the last 100 years, illustrating precisely when and where different areas of the world started to warm up or cool down. The research indicates that the world is indeed getting warmer, but historical records show that it hasn’t happened everywhere at the same rate.
“Global warming was not as understood as we thought,” said Zhaohua Wu, an assistant professor of meteorology at FSU. Wu led a team of climate researchers including Fei Ji, a visiting doctoral student at FSU’s Center for Ocean-Atmospheric Prediction Studies (COAPS); Eric Chassignet, director of COAPS; and Jianping Huang, dean of the College of Atmospheric Sciences at Lanzhou University in China. The group, using an analysis method newly developed by Wu and his colleagues, examined land surface temperature trends from 1900 onward for the entire globe, minus Antarctica. Previous work by scientists on global warming could not provide information of non-uniform warming in space and time due to limitations of previous analysis methods in climate research.
The research team found that noticeable warming first started around the regions circling the Arctic and subtropical regions in both hemispheres. But the largest accumulated warming to date is actually at the northern midlatitudes. They also found that in some areas of the world, cooling had actually occurred. “The global warming is not uniform,” Chassignet said. “You have areas that have cooled and areas that have warmed.” For example, from about 1910 to 1980, while the rest of the world was warming up, some areas south of the equator — near the Andes — were actually cooling down, and then had no change at all until the mid 1990s. Other areas near and south of the equator didn’t see significant changes comparable to the rest of the world at all.
April 30, 2014 - A visualization tool has been developed by the University of Florida Urban and Regional Planning research team directed by Dr. Zhong-Ren Peng as part of the Mississippi-Alabama Sea Grant Consortium project “Development of Sea Level Rise Adaptation Planning Procedures and Tools Using NOAA Sea Level Rise Impacts Viewer.” The tool helps local planners identify the most vulnerable infrastructures and places using the inundation data provided by the NOAA Sea Level Rise and Coastal Flooding Impacts Viewer. Using the online visualization tool (University of Florida sea level rise viewer), the users can easily view the estimated vulnerability under 1-foot, 2-foot, and 5-foot scenarios. Detailed information regarding the vulnerable infrastructure and the vulnerable census block groups can also be viewed.
April 25, 2014 - On April 24th, Climate Central released an enhanced version of its Surging Seas Risk Finder for Florida. The Risk Finder is a public web tool that provides local projections, maps and assessments of exposure to sea level rise and coastal flooding tabulated for every zip code and municipality along with planning, legislative and other districts. Exposure assessments cover over 100 demographic, economic, infrastructure and environmental variables using data drawn mainly from federal sources, including NOAA, USGS, FEMA, DOT, DOE, DOI, EPA, FCC and the Census. The web tool was recently highlighted at the launch of The White House's Climate Data Initiative.
New features include:
downloadable data - including detailed projections, place summary tables, and low-lying facility lists
improved map: includes property value layer
more forecasts: including the latest IPCC projections
more variables analyzed: military areas, parks, protected land, colleges & universities,
more more places analyzed: FL county commission districts, FL city council and commission districts, state legislative districts and more
dynamic threat rankings (by variable and water level)
April 24, 2014 - On April 24, 2014, Dr. Rajendra Pachauri, Chair of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) became the first recipient of the University of South Florida's Patel College “Eminent Global Scholar in Sustainability Award” in recognition of his extraordinary accomplishments in advancing the science and understanding of climate change and international policy. Dr. Pachauri’s visit to the USF Patel College comes on the heels of the recent Climate Change report released earlier this month by the U.N. IPCC that identified a clear human influence on the climate system. His compelling lecture to USF faculty, staff and students on “Energy Scenarios and Climate Impacts” was followed by a vibrant question and answer session.
April 24, 2014 - On April 22-23, the Florida State University Department of Earth, Ocean and Atmospheric Science hosted the National Academy of Sciences (NAS) Board on Atmospheric Sciences and Climate (BASC) spring meeting. This meeting was part of the board’s efforts to connect more directly with atmospheric sciences and climate researchers and users of our science outside the beltway. The board was excited to hear about new research that faculty and students at FSU are pursuing, to learn more about challenges the region faces, especially on climate preparedness and weather extremes, and to consider how regional issues and approaches related to federal priorities and initiatives. The co-directors of the FSU branch of the FCI, Drs. Eric Chassignet and Vasu Misra, both gave presentations that included FCI research.
BASC is the focal point within the National Academy of Sciences for activities related to the atmospheric and climate sciences, serving as a source for objective, independent advice to the federal government and others. Through its board meetings, study committees, and convening functions, BASC strives to advance understanding of atmospheric science, meteorology, and climate; foster application of this knowledge to benefit the public; guide US research programs so they address key scientific opportunities and the needs of the nation; and ensure that the voice of the science community is considered in government planning and decision making.
April 23, 2014 - The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) today announced the four winners of its second annual Campus RainWorks Challenge, a design challenge created to engage college and university students in reinventing our water infrastructure and developing innovative green infrastructure systems to reduce stormwater pollution and build resilience to climate change.
The University of Florida won 1st Place in the Master Plan Category for a design addressing a 67.6 acre subwatershed in the northeast corner of campus. To engage students with the journey of water, the three-phase plan would transform two detention facilities into campus amenities and daylight the flow of stormwater into above ground pipes and vegetated bioswales. In addition to treating and retaining stormwater and improving groundwater recharge, the team’s plan would improve aesthetics and safety along a major road.
April 23, 2014 - On April 22, Dr. Frederick Bloetscher (FAU) testified to the Science and Space Sub-committee of the Commerce, Science and Transportation committee for the US Senate on the impacts of sea level rise. He noted that occasional flooding is not new to Florida, but the increasing frequency we currently experience is related to sea level rise, not just along the coast, but for large expanses of developed property inland due to topography and groundwater levels. As a result, the challenge for water managers in the state, especially in southeast Florida, is to control the groundwater table, because control of the water table is essential to prevent flooding of the low terrain. He noted that in Miami Beach, as elsewhere in Florida, the lowest lying areas are the roadways, which are also the location of electrical, water, sewer, phone and drainage infrastructure. Fortunately given the current Federally funded special imagery and NOAA data systems we are able to predict pretty accurately where flooding will occur. Linking that information with our detailed projections of sea level rise impacts we can begin now to map vulnerability and build adaptive measures into every action and plan we undertake.
He noted that he is positive on Florida’s future. Our best option is adaptation and there are many options available - for example we can install more coastal salinity structures, raise road beds, abandon some local roads, increase storm water pumping, add storm water retention etc. to address many of the problems. FAU has developed a toolbox of these options that can be applied to address these adaptation demands, resulting in an approach that will need a more managed integrated water system, more operations and inevitably more dollars. Much of the actual needs are local, but the problem is regional and requires a concerted effort of federal, state and local agencies and the private sector to address the scales of the problem. A community can address the local problems, but the regional canals, barriers, etc., are beyond the scope of individual agencies. Collaboration and discussion are needed. The Four County Compact is an excellent example, but the longer term solutions need the state and federal agencies and the related dollars to address larger impacts.
The needs will be large - in the tens of billions. But there are two things in south Florida’s favor – time and money. The expenditures are over many, many years. Most important in the near term need is the early planning and identification of critical components of infrastructure and policy needs and timing for same. At risk are nearly 6 million of Floridians their economy and lifestyle, $3.7 trillion in property (2012) in south east Florida alone and a $260 billion annual economy. All of these are expected to continue to increase assuming the appropriate plans are made to adapt to the changing sea level. Protection of the area for the next 100-150 years is achievable as long as we have the science, the understanding and the will to do it. Plan now, and over the rest of this century starting now we can raise those billions of dollars needed.
April 17, 2014 - In collaboration with the National Park Service and local educators, researchers from Dr. Linda Walter's biology lab at the University of Central Florida, has produced a book entitled We Will Remember Turtle Mound: Uncovering the Past and Saving the Future of Florida’s First People. This book, geared toward fourth grade curriculum, tells the story of the Timucuan people and Turtle Mound, one of the largest coastal shell middens on the east coast. After describing the past, it tells about recent losses of artifacts due to climate change and “living shoreline” efforts to preserve and protect the midden into the future.
April 15, 2014 - Miami could know as early as 2020 how high sea levels will rise into the next century, according to a team of researchers including Florida International University scientist René Price. Price and a team of international researchers analyzed data from 10 sea level monitoring stations throughout the world. They examined historical data to identify the timing at which accelerations might first be recognized in a significant manner and extended projections through 2100. The findings are published in this week's issue of the journal Nature Communications.
April 14, 2014 - Concluding four years of intense scientific collaboration by hundreds of authors from around the world, this report responds to the request of the world's governments for a comprehensive, objective and policy neutral assessment of the current scientific knowledge on mitigating climate change. The report has been extensively reviewed by experts and governments to ensure quality and comprehensiveness. The quintessence of this work, the Summary for Policymakers, has been approved line by line by member governments at the 12th Session of IPCC WG III in Berlin, Germany (7-11 April 2014).
April 1, 2014 - The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Working Group II has released a report titled Climate Change 2014: Impacts, Adaptation, and Vulnerability. The objective of this contribution of Working Group II to the IPCC's Fifth Assessment Report is to consider the vulnerability and exposure of human and natural systems, the observed impacts and future risks of climate change, and the potential for and limits to adaptation. The chapters of the report assess risks and opportunities for societies, economies, and ecosystems around the world. The 30-chapter report is divided into two volumes. Volume I focuses on global and sectoral aspects. It introduces the report with chapters that provide the context for the AR5, followed by those on natural and managed resources and systems; human settlements, industry, and infrastructure; and human health, well-being, and security. Volume I has a set of four chapters on adaptation. The ﬁnal three chapters in Volume I synthesize information from Volume I and II chapters to provide multi-sector impacts, risks, vulnerabilities, and opportunities. Volume II chapters provide assessments on regions.
March 26, 2014 - An interdisciplinary team at the University of Florida's College of Design, Construction and Planning has won the American' Planning Association's (APA) Excellence in Small Town and Rural Planning - Student Project Award. The APA's Small Town and Rural Division will present the award to the team at the national APA conference in Atlanta in late April 2014. Information about the team’s winning project, "Yankeetown-Inglis Adaptive Design," and a link to the final report are at http://changinglevycoast.org/2014/01/03/yankeetown-inglis-adaptive-design-report/. This project was part of the two-year "Planning for Coastal Change in Levy County" project focusing on the issue of sea level rise and funded by the Florida Sea Grant (http://changinglevycoast.org). The student team was: Sean Reiss (Urban and Regional Planning), Rong Zeng (Urban and Regional Planning), Jana Rosenbloom (Landscape Architecture), and Kevin Bennett (Building Construction). Advisors were: Kathryn Frank (Urban and Regional Planning) and Michael Volk (Center for Landscape Conservation Planning). The award comes with a $200 subsidy for travel to the national conference.
March 26, 2014 - Dr. Reed Noss, a co-director of the FCI at the University of Central Florida (UCF), has been named a UCF "Pegasus Professor." The award is the most prestigious a faculty member can receive at UCF. The honor recognizes extraordinary contributions to the UCF community through teaching, research and service. Each recipient receives a statue of the UCF Pegasus, a gold Pegasus Professor medallion and a check for $5,000.
March 26, 2014 - A new University of Florida web-based tool worked well during its trial run to measure water consumption at farms in four Southern states. The system measures the “water footprint” of a farm, which is a measure of the consumptive water use required to produce a crop. Water footprint is described in units of water volume used relative to mass of produce (gallons/lb or liters/kg). The tool was developed by Daniel Dourte, Clyde Fraisse, and Oxana Uryasev through AgroClimate.
February 25, 2014 - The AgroClimate Mobile app is an innovative way to help Florida growers make more informed decisions based on weather and climate information. Growers can check current weather conditions at FAWN weather stations and summarize observations during the last 7, 14 and 30 days. They can also register farms and fields for customized reports based on crop, planting /start date, soil texture and irrigation management.
February 24, 2014 - The FCI-supported Tri-state climate learning community for row crop agriculture held their ninth workshop on Feb. 20th in Headland, Alabama at the Wiregrass Research Station. Twenty-seven people attended, including producers, researchers and extension professionals from 12 counties in FL, GA and AL. The morning fieldtrip was organized by William Birdsong (Auburn University Cooperative Extension) and highlighted climate-related risk management at the Satsuma orchard of Hertzog farms. During an additional two other farm visits producers, Myron Johnson and Thomas Kirkland guided the group in a discussion about the benefits and practices associated with cover crops (hairy vetch and cereal rye). David Zierden, FL state climatologist (FSU) provided a seasonal climate review and outlook. Growers were particularly interested in hearing about the physical drivers responsible for recent cold weather. David also piqued interest in learning more about the theory of arctic amplification.
The Tri-state climate group was initiated in April 2010 and is coordinated by Dr. Wendy-Lin Bartels, Assistant Research Scientist at FCI. Row crop stakeholders meet twice a year in Florida, Alabama or Georgia in February (prior to planting) and in early August during summer “downtime” (prior to harvest). The broad aim of this climate learning network is to create a space for on-going interactions among row crop stakeholders at a regional scale (SE USA) to identify and assess adaptation options that can reduce climate-related risks. Workshops emphasize hands-on, peer-to-peer learning through on-farm field visits, in-depth discussions, and experimentation. Interactions enable local experiences to influence research directions (and vice versa). Researchers from the Florida Climate Institute and the Southeast Climate Consortium coordinate and facilitate the group with support through a USDA-NIFA-funded project.
January 29, 2014 - Dr. Scott Hagen, branch director of the Florida Climate Institute at the University of Central Florida, has been elected a fellow of the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE). Dr. Hagen is a professor at the University of Central Florida and a member of the Board of Governors for the ASCE Coasts, Oceans, Ports & Rivers Institute. Hagen established and directs the internationally recognized Coastal Hydroscience Analysis, Modeling & Predictive Simulations Laboratory. The primary focus is on massively parallel, high-performance computational modeling of ocean, coastal, and inland shallow water flows. Hagen’s recent efforts expand into transport and biological modeling, particularly with respect to the coastal dynamics of sea-level rise, and are aiding coastal planners around Florida. He also served as guest editor of a focus issue on sea-level rise implications to coastal engineering for the ASCE Journal of Waterway, Port, Coastal, and Ocean Engineering. In 2012 he chaired the 10th International Conference on Hydroscience & Engineering, where he received the Outstanding Achievement Award for Advancement of the State-of-the-Art.
January 29, 2014 - There are approximately 1 billion biodiversity research specimens in US collections alone, but it is estimated that information from just 10% of them is currently digitized and online. Digitization of the specimens grants researchers access to vast quantities of information in their investigations of timely subjects such as climate change, invasive species, and the extinction crisis.
About 20,000 specimen images from Florida State University's Robert K. Godfrey Herbarium and Valdosta State University's Herbarium are currently featured on a new crowdsourcing site called Notes From Nature (http://www.notesfromnature.org/). Notes from Nature is part of the Zooniverse suite of projects (https://www.zooniverse.org/), which have previously focused on astronomy but which has expanded to include climate, humanities, and life sciences research. Another climate-related crowdsourcing project in Zooniverse is the popular Old Weather project (http://www.oldweather.org/).
January 23, 2014 - A new paper co-authored by Drs. Thomas Wahl, Francisco Calafat, and Mark Luther and accepted in the Geophysical Research Letters journal finds evidence of rapid changes in seasonal sea level cycles along the US Gulf coast, which in turn increases the risk of hurricane-induced flooding in certain areas.
December 19, 2013 - We are pleased to announce that Florida International University (FIU) has joined the FCI! FIU is located in the Greater Miami area and is part of the State University System of Florida. The primary FCI contacts from FIU are Dr. Richard Olson, Director of Extreme Events Research and Professor in the Department of Politics & International Relations, and Dr. Michael Sukop, Associate Professor in the Department of Earth and Environment.
December 19, 2013 - The Southeast Archeological Center (SEAC) of the National Park Service (NPS) has partnered with the Center for Ocean-Atmospheric Prediction Studies (COAPS) at the Florida State University to conduct an assessment of the risks posed by ongoing climate change to cultural resources at national parks in the Southeast. Preliminary studies have identified modern, colonial, and pre-colonial atmospheric and oceanographic data that can be used to assess the risks to irreplaceable cultural resource sites within Canaveral National Seashore and Everglades National Park. At these sites, rising sea level combined with the exposure of the Florida Peninsula to hurricanes are the most prominent risks to cultural resources.
A new website provides users access to a wide range of atmospheric and oceanographic data resources. The data will support NPS as they develop strategies for adaptation or mitigation of future climate impacts on cultural resources.
December 18, 2013 - Teaching materials are now available online from a NASA-funded project conducted by the University of South Florida and Florida State University to advance middle-school student knowledge of climate change through teacher education.
Content and methods were built on current standards and best practice, including K-12 climate literacy standards, national science standards, Florida’s state standards, national PD standards, and content-specific pedagogy, such as inquiry learning and targeting to specific assessment results. The content related local, Florida, and Southeastern U.S. topics to global topics. The major climate change topic areas are Climate Fundamentals, Energy Transfer and Climate, Weather and Climate, Causes of Climate Change, Humans and Climate Change, Hurricanes, Sea Level, and Sinkholes. Effective teaching methods were embedded throughout.
November 12, 2013 - This month’s Landscape Architecture Magazine features the Planning Matanzas project, led by the FCI's Kathryn Frank, in an article titled ”Think or Swim,” by Jonathan Lerner. Lerner attended the project's Spring 2013 professional stakeholder workshops. In his exposition, Lerner does a wonderful job of capturing the unique and vulnerable beauty of the Matanzas Basin as well as the complexity of the planning task at hand.
November 12, 2013 - The Editorial Board of the journal Environment, Systems, and Decisions, published by Springer, announces a special Call for Papers addressing the challenges of climate and energy decision-making under uncertainty. Manuscripts are encouraged to be submitted prior to March 1, 2014. The special issue will be co-edited by the FCI's Greg Kiker.
October 18, 2013 - Oceanographers from University of Miami, Duke University, and the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution have received $16 million in grants from the National Science Foundation to deploy a new observing system in the subpolar region of the North Atlantic. The observing system will measure the ocean’s overturning circulation, a key component of the global climate system.
October 16, 2013 - A new project from AgroClimate focuses on the development of Smartphone apps for citrus, cotton, strawberry, and urban lawn to provide real-time and forecasting information that can then be used for more efficient irrigation and water conservation.
This document provides a brief overview of the observed changes in the climate of the Southeast United States as well as possible future climate conditions as simulated by climate models, based on two scenarios of future greenhouse gas emissions. It summarizes the detailed findings presented in one of nine regional and national climate descriptions created by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) in support of the National Climate Assessment (NCA). It is also hoped that these findings are of direct benefit to decision makers and communities seeking to develop adaptation plans. The full Regional Climate Trends and Scenarios report is available at http://scenarios.globalchange.gov/regions/southeast-and-caribbean.
August 15, 2013 - A new special issue in the journal Regional Environmental Change (a Springer publication) entitled "Multi-disciplinary assessment of the Southeastern US climate" is a result of a vibrant interdisciplinary effort by several groups, including the Florida Climate Institute, the Southeast Climate Consortium, and the Florida Water and Climate Alliance. The authors come from a milieu of universities, government agencies and laboratories, and industry spread across the Southeastern US.
University of Florida Researchers have found, for the first time, that crop models predicting yields for one of the world’s most important crops begin to disagree under climate change scenarios. By knowing where those models break down, researchers will be better able to improve them. The computerized models predict crop yields for wheat, one of the world’s most-consumed foods. For full press release about the newly published study in Nature Climate Change, click here.
Understanding how climate change will affect crop yields in the future is vitally important to agricultural decision makers today. However the models we are using to predict potential impacts often disagree. AgMIP researchers have just published a letter online in the June issue of Nature Climate Change, “Uncertainty in simulating wheat yields under climate change” that proposes a new methodology to decrease uncertainty and improve predictions. For full story and link to article, click here.
The Florida Natural Resources Leadership Institute (NRLI) is now accepting applications for Class XIII, which begins August 6, 2013 and continues through April , 2014. The 8 month fellowship will focus on "The Future of Water in Florida."
The program meets once per month at a different community in Florida to explore the natural resource topic and participate in discussions and activities with stakeholders in that community.
Institute graduates will be better able to help the people, industries, and institutions of Florida collaborate in achieving the often conflicting goals of protecting the environment and the people while fostering economic development. For more information and for the full schedule, please visit http://nrli.ifas.ufl.edu/.
Dr. Clyde Fraisse is recognized internationally as a leader in climate variability and change adaptation research and extension and in the development of climate-based decision support systems. The AgroClimate system developed by Dr. Fraisse for the southeastern U.S. is now an open source platform being replicated in Africa and Latin America. Educated in the U.S., Belgium, and Brazil, he is naturally comfortable in multiple cultures as he collaborates on research projects and co-publishes with international colleagues. Dr. Fraisse is a member of the World Meteorological Organization Expert Team on “User response to climate variability and change”. He is currently implementing an AgroClimate system for Cooperatives in Paraguay and was selected by the Government of Jordan to help develop synergetic approaches for complying with the Rio convention protocols. Dr. Fraisse is also collaborating with the World Bank in the development of climate smart tools for farmers in Kenya and Ethiopia and is the principal investigator for a project funded by the Department of Education and CAPES for the exchange of students between the University of Florida and universities in Brazil. His accomplishments have had a worldwide impact and greatly contributed to the internationalization of IFAS.
The Florida Climate Institute, along with the Patel College of Global Sustainability, hosted the National Climate Assessment Southeast Town Hall Meeting in Tampa.
The event featured speakers from academic institutions, federal agencies, water utility and management, as well as authors of various chapters. These talks were streamed and can be viewed at (need link from UCAR).
The U.S. Global Change Research Program (USGCRP) released the National Climate Assessment (NCA) draft report last month to be reviewed by scientists and experts from inside and outside the federal government, the National Academy of Sciences, and the public. The report analyzes the effects of global changes on the natural environment, agriculture, energy production and use, land and water resources, transportation, human health and welfare, human social systems, and biological diversity; and analyzes current trends in global changes, both human-induced and natural, and projects major trends for the subsequent 25 to 100 years. The report includes a chapter on the southeastern USA and key messages for this region. More information about the National Climate Assessment can be found online at http://assessment.globalchange.gov.
Both the FCI and Southeast Climate Consortium (SECC) played major leadership and writing roles in this assessment for the southeastern states. Keith Ingram of UF (Director of the SECC) was the lead author on the SE technical report and Jim Jones (UF Director of the Florida Climate Institute) was co-lead author on the SE Assessment chapter in this report. At the meeting, a summary of the SE Assessment Report was presented.
We are pleased to announce that the Florida Climate Institute is expanding to increase the effectiveness of collaborations among universities and state and local agencies in Florida. The FCI will include Florida Atlantic University, the University of Central Florida, the University of Miami, and the University of South Florida (including the Patel School of Global Sustainability), in addition to the University of Florida and Florida State University. By bringing together even more outstanding scientists from across the state, we are able to increase both the breadth and the depth of our research and better inform Floridians about the economic and environmental opportunities and risks our state faces due to climate variability, climate change, and sea level rise.
Dr. Jim Jones, FCI director at the University of Florida, is co-leading an international research initiative aimed at assessing climate impacts on regional and global food security now and in the future. Also part of this AgMIP (Agricultural Model Intercomparison and Improvement Project) team at UF are Ken Boote, Senthold Asseng, and Cheryl Porter. The project was featured in the August issue of Nature Climate Change and brings together experts who use computer models to understand how the world's major economic crops are vulnerable to changing climate. Within this program, a Modeling Group on Livestock and Grasslands was launched. The aim is to intercompare and further develop a range of models to be applied internationally, especially for climate change impact projections. Dr. Jim Jones’s team is part of the Grassland & Rangeland modeling sub-group. Activities and meetings are starting now; results will be discussed in the Fall 2013. For more information, download the press release.
GAINESVILLE, Fla. — A new study by a University of Florida researcher finds that sea level peaked between 18 and 30 feet above current sea level during the last interglacial period approximately 125,000 years ago.
That’s significant, the researchers say, because knowing how high sea level peaked previously tells us something about how the earth may respond as global temperatures rise again.
The finding differs from many studies on sea level during the previous warming period because the researchers use fossil coral reef data to estimate sea levels and then factor in the physics of how ever-changing ice sheets have affected those estimates. The range of sea level maximums that they estimate for the period suggests that part of the Greenland ice sheet had collapsed, as well as a large portion of the West Antarctic ice sheet and possibly sectors of the East Antarctic ice sheet.
The ancient reserves of methane gas seeping from the melting Arctic ice cap told Jeff Chanton and fellow researchers what they already knew: As the permafrost thaws, there is a release of methane, a powerful greenhouse gas that causes climate warming.
The trick was figuring out how much, said Chanton, the John W. Winchester Professor of Oceanography at Florida State University.
The four-member team — whose findings were published in the respected journal Nature Geoscience — documented a large number of gas seep sites in the Arctic where permafrost is thawing and glaciers receding (they found 77 previously undocumented seep sites, comprising 150,000 vents to the atmosphere). Until recently, the cryosphere (frozen soil and ice) has served to plug or block these vents. But thawing conditions have allowed the conduits to open, and deep geologic methane now escapes.
The team studied the link between natural gas seepage and the melting ice cap, using aerial photos and field data to figure out the number — and location — of seep holes.
So, here’s the rub: The more the ice cap melts, the more methane is released into the atmosphere — and the more the climate warms.
Why should this matter to you?
People who live in coastal areas of Florida could be directly affected, said Chanton, who analyzed the methane and dated it to more than 40,000 years old.
All this seeping methane causes more melting ice, Chanton said, which causes sea levels to rise and could affect coastal real estate values — sooner rather than later.
Possibly over the next 50 to 100 years, Chanton said.
“Methane is a very strong greenhouse gas that’s grown three times faster than carbon dioxide since the industrial era,” Chanton said. “As the Arctic warms, the ice caps melt and the fissures open, so methane escapes and causes more warming.”
This phenomenon causes sea levels to rise, which is particularly problematic in Florida:
“Along the flat Florida coastline, a 1-foot rise in sea level could cause anywhere from 10 to 100 feet of shoreline retreat — erosion,” Chanton said. “For us here in Florida, this is really important because we can expect the coast to recede.”
That beach house, he warned, might be in peril: “It may not be there for your grandchildren.”
A team of FCI scientists at the Florida State University Center for Ocean-Atmospheric Prediction Studies (FSU COAPS) has just released the fourth annual FSU COAPS Atlantic hurricane season forecast. This year's forecast calls for a 70 percent probability of 10 to 16 named storms and 5 to 9 hurricanes. The mean forecast is for 13 named storms, 7 hurricanes, and an average accumulated cyclone energy (ACE; a measure of the strength and duration of storms) of 122. These numbers are based on 51 individual seasonal forecasts conducted since May 25, 2012 using sea surface temperatures predicted by NOAA.
The forecast mean numbers are slightly below the 1995-2010 average of 14 named storms and 8 hurricanes, and reflect the possible emergence of El Niño conditions in the tropical Pacific and cooling surface water temperatures in the tropical North Atlantic.
The scientists use a numerical atmospheric model developed at COAPS to understand seasonal predictability of hurricane activity. The model is one of only a handful of numerical models in the world being used to study seasonal hurricane activity and is different from the statistical methods used by other seasonal hurricane forecasters. FSU is the only university in the United States issuing a seasonal hurricane forecast using a global numerical atmospheric model. The model uses the high performance computers at FSU to make predictions of the atmosphere six months into the future. Based on these atmospheric predictions, tropical activity is objectively determined and forecasts are issued around June 1st.
The COAPS forecast is already gaining recognition for its accuracy only three years after its launch. The 2009 forecast predicted 8 named storms and 4 hurricanes, and there ended up being 9 named storms and 3 hurricanes that year. The 2010 forecast predicted 17 named storms and 10 hurricanes, and there were actually 19 named storms and 12 hurricanes. The 2011 forecast predicted an average of 17 named storms and 9 hurricanes, and there were actually 19 named storms and 7 hurricanes. Re-forecasts conducted using data since 1982 shows that the model has a mean absolute error of 1.9 hurricanes and 2.3 named storms. Details about past forecasts are archived here.
During a recent Florida Climate Institute Distinguished Scholar Seminar, Dr. Kenny Broad, University of Miami, shared a new tool he developed with Dr. Robert Meyer of the University of Pennsylvania with funding from the National Science Foundation. The interactive simulation is designed to learn about how we make decisions while preparing for hurricanes and tropical storms. Stormview has participants view information about a storm forming in the distant Atlantic over time until the storm intensifies and decisions are needed. Days pass, various information sources are offered, choices for preparations are explored, and several scenarios for the storm’s impact are possible.
The Florida Climate Institute and the International Center for Tropical Agriculture signed a Cooperative Agreement on Monday, April 16 that will help to strengthen decision making and policy analysis, capacity building and knowledge management, especially as these relate to climate change and tropical agriculture.
Pictured: Dr. Ruben Echeverria, Director General CIAT, Dr. David Sammons, Dean for International Programs, UF, and Jim Jones, Director of FCI, UF.
Incorporating Climate Change Effects into Next-Generation Coastal Inundation Decision Support Systems is an integrated and community-based approach that will develop the next generation Coastal Inundation Decision Support System (CIDSS), by incorporating the projected impact of climate change on hurricanes and SLR in the next 20-30 years and the next 80-100 years.
Climate Scenarios: A Florida-Centric View Leader: Vasubandhu Misra Contributors: Elwood Carlson, Robin K. Craig, David Enfield, Benjamin Kirtman, William Landing, Sang-Ki Lee, David Letson, Frank Marks, Jayantha Obeysekera, Mark Powell, Sang-lk Shin
Research on global systems suggests that coastal communities and regions are becoming increasingly vulnerable to sea level rise and climate change. As a result, researchers and practitioners are developing processes, tools, and strategies for adapting to future impacts. Building on existing and previous UF research, three sea level rise adaptation planning projects "Development of Sea Level Rise Adaptation Planning Procedures and Tools Using NOAA Sea Level Rise Impacts Viewer", "A Spatial-Temporal Econometric Model to Estimate Costs and Benefits of Sea Level Rise Adaptation Strategies", "Rural Coastal Region Adaptation Planning for Sea Level Rise" led by DCP faculty, Zhong-Ren Peng, Kathryn Frank and Dawn Jourda recently received funding from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) through the Florida and Mississippi-Alabama Sea Grant programs.
FCI Member and FSU Professor Allan Clarke, with Assistant Scientist Lucia Bunge received a NSF grant to work on a new project "Understanding Observed Equatorial Pacific, Indian and Atlantic Ocean Interannual Flow Using Theory and High Resolution ECCO2 Model Results". Fundamental to an understanding of El Niño/Southern Oscillation climate fluctuations is an understanding of the anomalous equatorial Pacific surface flows which move the surface waters and change the sea surface temperature. Through the advent of accurate satellite altimeter measurements from late 1992 to the present, they now have an unprecedented opportunity to examine these flows not just in the Pacific, but also in the Indian and Atlantic Oceans. The main goal of this project will be to describe the anomalous equatorial surface flows in all three ocean basins and understand major aspects of them using theory and the dynamically consistent high resolution ECCO2 global numerical model. The scientific community is beginning to take advantage of the ECCO2 global ocean model, and a secondary benefit of the analysis will be the evaluation of the accuracy of this model and its dynamics near the equator in all three ocean basins. The foundational knowledge gained during this project should be helpful to the many scientists who will analyze future long records of equatorial climate data gathered in the multinational Atlantic Ocean PIRATA and Indian Ocean RAMA observational programs.
The University of Florida and the Guana Tolomato Matanzas National Estuarine Research Reserve (GTM NERR) have received a highly competitive NERRS Science Collaborative Grant to pilot a sea level rise adaptation planning process in the Matanzas Basin near St. Augustine. The project team will work with stakeholders and coastal decision makers to deliver a habitat vulnerability assessment for the basin and to identify opportunities for protecting coastal to inland ecological connectivity. The methodologies will be carefully designed and evaluated to ensure robustness and transferability to other NERR System sites and coastal areas. The interdisciplinary project team includes several UF faculty members: Kathryn Frank, principal investigator and assistant professor of urban and regional planning, Dawn Jourdan, assistant professor of urban and regional planning, Paul Zwick, associate dean and professor of urban and regional planning, Tom Hoctor, director of the Center for Landscape Conservation Planning, Bob Grist, associate professor of landscape architecture, Greg Kiker, associate professor of agricultural and biological engineering, and Thomas Ruppert, coastal planning specialist, Florida Sea Grant. The three-year project, funded at $618,377, kicked off in December.
Researchers throughout Florida have been expressing a need for high-resolution regional climate and climate projection datasets for quite a while. I am delighted to introduce to you our new arrival: the COAPS Regional Downscaling for the Southeast United States. We are providing hourly model output (surface temperature, precipitation and much more) at a 10km resolution, for two categories of simulations:
downscaling of Global Reanalyses (sub-project CLARReS10) for the period 1979-2000, and
downscaling of three Global Climate Models (sub-project CLAREnCE10) for the periods 1968-2000 and 2038-2070.
This is a uniquely detailed and comprehensive dataset that, we hope, would be useful as the climate driver to a range of hydrological and ecological modeling studies. The downscaling procedure has been successfully validated in a peer-reviewed publication. We invite you to visit the CLARReS10/CLAREnCE10 datasets here.
The American Meteorological Society has awarded Professor Allan J. Clarke, Department of Earth, Ocean and Atmospheric Science, Florida State University, the 2012 Sverdrup Gold Medal Award for fundamental contributions to the dynamics of ocean currents and air-sea interactions with particular emphasis on the El Niño-Southern Oscillation.
James W. Jones, FCI Director, was elected to the National Academy of Engineering for his contributions to understanding climate change, environmental impacts, and sustainable agricultural systems.
The National Academy of Engineering (NAE) has elected 66 new members and 10 foreign associates, announced NAE President Charles M. Vest on Thursday, February 9, 2012. This brings the total U.S. membership to 2,254 and the number of foreign associates to 206.
Election to the NAE is among the highest professional distinctions accorded to an engineer. Academy membership honors those who have made outstanding contributions to "engineering research, practice, or education, including, where appropriate, significant contributions to the engineering literature," and to the "pioneering of new and developing fields of technology, making major advancements in traditional fields of engineering, or developing/implementing innovative approaches to engineering education."
On November 14 and 15, scientists, agencies, and industry gathered at the University of Florida to discuss climate issues.
The two day event began with the Florida Climate Institute Annual Event (click here for event program) on Monday which offered attendees diverse presentations about various climate scenarios for Florida and the impacts on the environment and economy. Many also participated in a communications workshop to better bridge the gap between science, policy, and citizenry. The evening keynotes, Steve Seibert and Virginia Burkett, presented an interesting balance of social responsibility and climate science.
Over the 2 days, there were 17 presentations, 175 attendees, and 64 posters contributing the success of the events.
Thanks to all who participated!
The Florida Climate Institute (FCI) is a multi-disciplinary network of national and international research and public organizations, scientists, and individuals concerned with achieving a better understanding of climate variability and change.