201508fsu-nsfAugust 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.

FSU Press Release
201508amazonAugust 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."

FIU Press Release

PNAS Article
201508noaa-cimas-coralAugust 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.

NOAA Press Release

Nature Climate Change Article
havens-karlAugust 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.

Florida Sea Grant Announcement
201508fiu-urban-resilienceAugust 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.

FIU Press Release
201508rriiJuly 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.
201402rising-seasJuly 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."

USF Press Release

Nature Climate Change Journal Article
201507rsmas-earlycivJuly 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.

UM Press Release

Quaternary Science Reviews Journal Article
201507fiu-seminarJuly 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.

FIU Press Release
201507fit-coralJuly 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."

FIT Press Release

Royal Society Open Science Journal Article
201507icebergJuly 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.

UF Press Release

Science Journal Article
AgMIP logoJune 26, 2015 - The American Society of Agronomy (ASA) has selected the leaders of the Agricultural Model Intercomparison and Improvement Project (AgMIP) as the recipients of the 2015 ASA Presidential Award. Under the joint vision and leadership of Drs. Cynthia Rosenzweig (NASA-Goddard/Columbia University), James W. Jones (UF/FCI), Jerry Hatfield (USDA), and John Antle (Oregon State University), AgMIP has dramatically increased the coordination, transparency, and scientific rigor of agronomic modeling to address the pressing challenges of global change.

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.
201506choleraJune 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.

Acta Tropical Journal Article

Popular Science Article
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.

Miami Herald Article
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.

Read Full Tallahassee Democrat Article
dutton-andrea fraisse-clydeJune 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 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.

UF Press Release

Food Policy Journal Article
201506um-coralJune 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.”

UM Press Release
201506misra-hurricaneJune 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.

The Conversation Article