Regional Climate Trends and Scenarios: The Southeast U.S.

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.

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201311SpecialIssue.jpgAugust 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.

Source: http://fsu.floridaclimateinstitute.org/resources/publications/regional-environmental-change

The special issue may be accessed online at http://link.springer.com/journal/10113/13/1/suppl/page/1

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.

SRS Program

The symposium held April 2-3 at the University of Florida drew 250 attendees and featured speakers from other academic institutions around the world, businesses, and agencies. The event helped to honor the 150th anniversary of the Morrill Act which helped to make higher education accessible to all in America. Please visit the event website for recorded presentations, program, poster abstracts, panel session notes, and photos.

The Florida Natural Resources Leadership Institute (NRLI)

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.

All videos of the Southeast Regional Town Hall Meeting can be accessed directly from the YouTube Channel: http://www.youtube.com/NCAengagement.

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.

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By Elizabeth Bettendorf, FSU News, 6/14/2012

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.

How soon?

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.”

Source: http://news.fsu.edu/More-FSU-News/Study-Seeping-Arctic-methane-has-serious-implications-for-Florida-coastline

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.

To learn more about this forecast, contact lead scientist Tim LaRow (This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.; (850) 644-6926) and see the following article:

LaRow, T. E., L. Stefanova, D. W. Shin and S. Cocke, 2010: Seasonal Atlantic tropical cyclone hindcasting/forecasting using two sea surface temperature datasets. Geophys. Res. Lett., 37, L02804, doi:10.1029/2009GL041459.

Source: http://coaps.fsu.edu/hurricanes/

2012 Atlantic Hurricane Season Forecast
http://www.nhc.noaa.gov/gtwo_atl.shtml

New Stormview Storm Warning Simulation - Co-developed by FCI distinguished scholar seminar speaker Kenny Broad

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.

Go to https://cessna.wharton.upenn.edu/stormview to try it
Username and password: storm

See complete archived seminar here - April 19, 2012, Gainesville, FL: Cognitive Challenges to Using Climate Information.

Dr. Broad is the Director of the Leonard and Jane Abess Center for Ecosystem Science and Policy and a Professor in the Division of Marine Affairs and Policy at UM’s Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science. He also holds a joint appointment at Columbia University where he serves as Co-Director of the Center for Research on Environmental Decisions.

Dr. Meyer is the Gayfryd Steinberg Professor and Co-Director of Wharton's Risk Management and Decision Processes Center.

National Science Foundation

FCI Co-Director Eric Chassignet Receives FSU Distinguished Research Professor Award

FSU's Distinguished Research Professor Award is the third highest faculty award at Florida State. Dr. Chassignet received the award at the Faculty Awards Ceremony April 9.

Grower Kirk Brock talks about adapting to rainfall extremes on his dryland farm in Florida and how seasonal climate forecasts should help him improve his operation.

To view the full video, visit the ClimateWatch Magazine.

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.

Four new White Papers were presented during the Florida Climate Change Task Force workshop - an event supported by the State University System of Florida

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

Florida Water Management and Adaptation in the Face of Climate Change
Leaders: Marguerite Koch-Rose, Diana Mitsova-Boneva, and Tara Root
Contributors: Leonard Berry, Frederick Bloetscher, Nicole Hernández Hammer, Jorge Restrepo, Ramesh Teegavarapu

Florida Climate Change Education and Training: SUS Cooperative Plan
Leader: Sebastian Galindo-Gonzalez
Contributors: Leonard Berry, Carolyn Cox, Alana Edwards, Robert Ellingson, Allan Feldman, Tracy A. Irani, James W. Jones, Julie Lambert, Christine Lockhart, Mantha Mehallis, Jeffrey G. Ryan

Florida Biodiversity under a Changing Climate
Leaders: Susan E. Cameron-Devittt, Jennifer R. Seavey
Contributors: Sieara Claytor, Tom Hoctor, Martin Main, Odemari Mbuya, Reed Noss, Corrie Rainyn

Click here for climate education opportunities in the State University System of Florida.

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.

Read the project in its entirety

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.