Students in the University of Florida's environmental journalism class spent their spring semester on an in-depth report on climate change and public health in Florida -- The Human Hazard -- now published in full on WUFT.ORG, the UF College of Journalism and Communications' public media platform. The four-part series, which included stories on the expansion of vector-carrying mosquitoes, rising heat-related hospitalizations, and other public-health trends, found that vulnerable populations are particularly susceptible to these risks, now amplified by coronavirus as basic programs have been suspended to contend with the emergency. FCI affiliate faculty member Cynthia Barnett taught the class, beginning the semester with lectures and database workshops by Florida Climatologist David Zierden and other experts. The College of Journalism is also a member of the Florida Climate Reporting Consortium, which picked up some of the stories in major media outlets in Tampa and Miami.

Florida's Executive Office of the Governor has released the Chief Resilience Officer (CRO) 2019 Annual Report prepared by Julia Nesheiwat, the state's former CRO. The 36-page report discusses the Officer's goals and proposes "what can be done to start effective resilience planning and action." Download a copy of the report here.

The Gulf of Mexico Coastal Ocean Observing System (GCOOS) and NOAA's National Centers for Coastal Ocean Science (NCCOS) are funding two new studies designed to uncover the full costs of harmful algal blooms (HABs) across numerous sectors - from tourism and seafood to industries where impacts are less visible, such as healthcare and construction. As a state that relies heavily on these sectors, Florida is especially vulnerable to the socioeconomic damages of toxic blooms. This was apparent during the prolonged red tide that began in 2017 and lasted through early 2019, causing the state's governor to declare a state of emergency.

The funded studies will evaluate the sociological and economic impacts of Florida's 2017-2019 red tide event and develop a framework to inform future assessments of other HAB events with the goal of mitigating economic impacts on communities.

"From Bloom to Bust: Estimating Economic Losses and Impacts of Florida Red Tide (Karenia brevis)" will be conducted by Drs. Sergio Alvarez from the University of Central Florida and Dr. Heather O'Leary from the University of South Florida. This two-year project will examine the economic impacts of K. brevis events across 80 different sectors, based on varied bloom occurrence and intensity. Understanding the true costs of HABs is key to developing effective response and adaptation strategies that meet the needs of impacted communities in Florida and around the country.

"Assessment of the short- and long-term socioeconomic impacts of Florida's 2017-2019 Red Tide event" will be conducted by Drs. Christa Court, Xiang Bi, Jin Won Kim, Angie Lindsey, Stephen Morgan, Andrew Ropicki and Ricky Telg from the University of Florida and David Yoskowitz from the Harte Research Institute, Texas A&M University Corpus Christi. This two-year project will comprehensively quantify and qualify the short- and long-term socioeconomic impacts of the 2017-2019 Karenia brevis event in Florida and develop a transferable framework to help inform national-scale efforts focused on quantifying as well as measuring community vulnerability and resiliency.

The Southeast Florida Regional Climate Change Compact has published a guidance report to accompany the third update of the Regionally Unified Sea Level Rise Projection for Southeast Florida. The projection was released in December 2019 at the Compact's 11th Annual Climate Leadership Summit. The updated projection and accompanying guidance report are currently in the process of final review and acceptance by all four of the Compact counties.

Regionally Unified Sea Level Rise Projection and this guidance document were developed by an ad hoc Sea Level Rise Work Group of experts from academia and federal agencies, and supported by individuals from local government and Compact staff. The guidance report is intended to assist decision-makers at both the local and regional levels in Southeast Florida to plan for and make decisions about sea level rise and associated vulnerabilities based on best-available science.

Each year, local health departments spend considerable time and expense preparing for and responding to extreme weather events, which are growing more severe due to climate change. However, only 11% of local health departments report conducting activities related to climate change preparedness. The National Association of County and City Health Officials (NACCHO) has published a new information sheet - How to Frame the Health Impacts of Climate Change - to help health departments frame their work around climate change when communicating with the public.

 

 

 

Floridians believe climate change is real and are concerned about its impact on future generations in the state, according to the second Florida Climate Resilience Survey, conducted by the Florida Atlantic University Center for Environmental Studies (CES) in FAU's Charles E. Schmidt College of Science, and the Business and Economics Polling Initiative (BEPI) in FAU's College of Business. This quarterly statewide survey shows that 86 percent of Floridians believe climate change is happening, including 81 percent of Republicans, 91 percent of Democrats and 87 percent of Independents.

(Source Climate Outreach) Having conversations about climate change in our daily lives plays a huge role in creating social change. People take cues about what's important from what family, friends, colleagues and neighbors are talking about. That's why Climate Outreach has produced an evidence-based, practical guide to help make those conversations easier and more meaningful - and to come out of them feeling inspired and connected. Talking Climate Handbook is the result of a collaboration with Climate-KIC. It is based in part on a citizen science project with over 550 individuals from over 50 countries that took place last summer. Download the handbook here.

 

 

 

 

(Source: Science World) Half of the world's beaches could disappear by the end of the century due to coastal erosion, according to a new study led by the European Commission Joint Research Centre (JRC). Erosion is a major problem facing sandy beaches that will worsen with the rising sea levels brought about by climate change. According to the study, published today in Nature Climate Change, effective climate action could prevent 40% of that erosion. Sandy beaches cover more than 30% of the world's coastlines. They are popular recreational spots for people and they provide important habitats for wildlife. They also serve as natural buffer zones that protect the coastline and backshore coastal ecosystems from waves, surges and marine flooding. Their role as shock absorbers will become more important with the rising sea levels and more intense storms expected with climate change. Read article here.

In March, the Florida Public Service Commission unanimously approved the Florida Power & Light Co. (FPL) SolarTogether program which will ensure the development of 1,490 MW of solar over the next two years making it the largest community solar program in the U.S. The program will help to propel the Sunshine State into a leadership position on solar development and reduce dependence on fossil fuels that contribute to climate change. This voluntary solar program puts participants in full control of their level of commitment. Customers can offset up to 100% of their electricity use with emissions-free solar. Read the article here.

 
The 5th Annual Climate Communications Summit, held Oct. 29th in Gainesville, included workshops on effective communication strategies and on podcasting. Below are links to videos from the event.

The proposed Florida Climate Assessment will:

  • Produce a strategic tool with standards, data, analyses, and thresholds for use in planning, decision-making, setting research agendas, and use in public policy and legislation
  • Ensure resiliency decisions are informed by the best available science through an iterative, stakeholder driven process that is easily updated and user-focused
  • Use the best science in a manner that is responsive, supportive, and critical focusing on systems and not separate sectors
  • Improve relationships between knowledge producers and users and yield better decisions and outcomes to build capacity and overcome barriers

We want to know your thoughts on the proposed Florida Climate Assessment and its potential value to your work and to the state of Florida. This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. and please include your name, contact information, affiliation, and position.

The Coastal Planning Program newsletter contains valuable science, policy, planning, risk and insurance, and economics resources for anyone working on coastal resiliency and planning in Florida and beyond. To check out the Sea Grant Coastal Planning page go to http://www.flseagrant.org/climate-change/coastalplanning/. Or, Please send an email to Thomas Ruppert requesting to be added to the newsletter mailing list.

July 2, 2019 (By Kirsty Scandrett, University of Florida) - New research, published in Journal of Applied Ecology maps the peak temperatures for the establishment of citrus greening disease.

Credit: Taylor RA, Ryan SJ, Lippi CA, et al. Predicting the fundamental thermal niche of crop pests and diseases in a changing world: A case study on citrus greening, Journal of Applied Ecology, DOI: 10.1111/1365- 2664.13455

Orange juice is a staple on many breakfast tables, but the future availability of citrus products is threatened by the global spread of Huanglongbing (HLB), also known as citrus greening disease. The bacterium responsible for causing citrus greening prevents the formation of commercially viable fruit and is transmitted by an insect called the Asian citrus psyllid. Both the pathogen and the insect vector have been spreading in recent years, devastating regions famous for high citrus production and threatening the future of the citrus industry. As citrus greening becomes an increasing threat to growers worldwide, the future of the industry may depend on identifying locations that do not have a high risk of production collapse.

Read the full article.

DELAND, FLA, JUNE 26, 2019 -- Stetson University has named Jason Evans, Ph.D., as the interim executive director of the Institute for Water and Environmental Resilience (IWER). His role begins on Aug. 15. Evans will fill the position while Stetson searches for a permanent replacement for Clay Henderson, J.D., who is retiring. Evans is an associate professor of environmental science and studies at Stetson as well as faculty director of IWER. Henderson’s Stetson accomplishments include developing and organizing IWER and its staff, including the advisory and faculty steering committees, affiliate faculty and endowment; creating and administering the Sustainable Farming Fund to incentivize sustainable agriculture in the Suwannee River basin; and planning and conducting fundraising associated with the Sandra Stetson Aquatic Center. Read the article.

June 16, 2019 (Source: Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco) -- Climate change is already causing disruption to regional economic activity. Low-to-moderate income populations are highly vulnerable to these impacts, in part, because they often have fewer resources to adapt. The stability and prosperity of local economies in the face of climate change depends on how well the public, private, and civic sectors can come together to respond to the shocks and stresses of climate change. Collaborative efforts to fund climate adaptation not only reduce the burden on highly vulnerable populations, but they also offer the opportunity for co-benefits within a broader portfolio of community development ambitions.

This report introduces the field of climate adaptation finance and explains its connection to the Community Reinvestment Act (CRA) within the context of the disaster provisions guiding pre- and post-disaster investments. In a demonstration of need, the report provides evidence of the spatial concentration of disaster declarations in areas with CRA-eligible populations. It highlights existing innovative and hypothetical investments within a broader context for stimulating greater pre-disaster planning and investment.

Community development practitioners, investors and policymakers will find this report useful for sparking new ideas about how to develop partnerships and funding streams for CRA-eligible activities—in both eligible communities and areas within a federal disaster declaration—that will reduce the vulnerability and increase the adaptive capacity of communities to the impacts of climate change.

Article Citation

Keenan, Jesse M, and Elizabeth Mattiuzzi. 2019. “Climate Adaptation Investment and the Community Reinvestment Act,” Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco Community Development Research Brief 2019-5. Available at https://doi.org/10.24148/cdrb2019-05

June 2019 - The Florida Department of Environmental Protection has launched a new interactive algal bloom dashboard. This dashboard is a visual enhancement to the state's existing sampling slate. This data has been publicly available on DEP's website, but previously did not allow the public to easily see where algal blooms were occurring in Florida, in real time. The algal bloom dashboard features real-time updates of sample locations for up to 90 days and all available details related to those samples, such as photos and toxin information. Users can search by specific address, zip code, city or place. The tool includes quick links to other resources such as public health information.

May 2019 (Source: UF/IFAS News) Governor Ron DeSantis announced in April that University of Florida scientist Tom Frazer will be the state's first Chief Science Officer. Frazer will lead efforts to address some of Florida's most critical environmental challenges, including red tide and harmful algal blooms, which have impacted millions of Floridians, said Jack Payne, Working with the governor's staff, state agencies and a state-wide task force, Frazer will work to find science-based solutions to environmental issues important to Florida residents, according to a statement from the governor's office. "It's a great honor to be asked to serve in this role, and I'm ready to start working with state leaders and our best researchers to protect our water and our environment," Frazer said. This won't be the first time Frazer has headed a diverse team to tackle complex problems. As director of the UF/IFAS School of Natural Resources and Environment, Frazer led faculty members from 56 departments across 12 colleges, who worked on issues ranging from transitioning to renewable energy systems, preventing pollution, protecting biodiversity and climate change. Frazer will retain his faculty appointment at UF while serving as Chief Science Officer.  Read the article.

June 2019 - Coral reef managers are faced with a crisis: deteriorating environmental conditions are reducing the health and functioning of coral reef ecosystems worldwide. These threats compound the persistent local stresses coral reefs have experienced for decades from pollution, overfishing, and habitat destruction. Established approaches for managing coral reefs are neither sufficient, nor designed, to preserve corals in a changing climate. A growing body of research on “coral interventions” aims to increase the ability of coral reefs to persist in rapidly degrading environmental conditions. Those interventions include activities that affect the genetics, reproduction, physiology, ecology, or local environment of corals or coral populations. A first report, released by the National Academy of Sciences in November 2018, reviewed the current state of the science for 23 novel interventions. This report provides a decision framework to help managers assess and implement interventions that are suitable for their region and goals. Get the report.

May 2019 -  Michael Volk, Research Assistant Professor in the Department of Landscape Architecture, and Dr. Gail Hansen, Associate Professor in the Department of Environmental Horticulture at the University of Florida, have been awarded a California Landscape Architectural Student Scholarship (CLASS) Fund Research Award from the Council of Educators in Landscape Architecture (CELA).

This one-year project, entitled Future Landscape Professionals of the Anthropocene, will collect data on college curricula, teaching methods, and attitudes of students and teachers to identify and evaluate best practices for integrating climate change and climate-wise design strategies into landscape architecture and horticulture programs.The research team includes Dr. Belinda B. Nettles, Research Affiliate with the University of Florida's Center for Landscape Conservation Planning, and Isabella Guttuso, a Master of Landscape Architecture student. Project results will be posted on the Center for Landscape Conservation Planning's website Landscape Change. This website is part of the Center's broad initiative to advance climate-wise design and information sharing among landscape professionals.