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.
201511uf malaria2November 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.

UF News Release

Vector-Borne and Zoonotic Diseases Journal Article
201511uf mountainsNovember 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."

UF News Release

PNAS Journal Article

Photo credit: Ken Ridgway, Purdue University
201511 whitehouseNovember 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."

White House Fact Sheet
201511uf sealevelNovember 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.

Science Article

Photo Credit: Juan Carlos Garcia, CC
201511mbuya201511kirtmanNovember 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 ( 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.
201511fau-cestechNovember 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:
201511-NRLI Logo VerticalNovember 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
November 2, 2015 - Ricardo A. Alvarez (Research Affiliate at FAU's Florida Center for Environmental Studies) has developed an online course titled, "Beyond Single Building Toward a Community and Regional Resilience Approach" that is now available online on The American Institute of Architects website: 

Course Description:

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) ( 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" ( 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.

For more information about these efforts contact Libby Carnahan, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or Maya Burke, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..
201510fsu-alaskan-soilOctober 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."

FSU News Release

PNAS Journal Article
logo-usf-patelcollegeOctober 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.

More Information
201510fiu-leadershipcorpsOctober 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.

FIU News Release

201510fau-turtlesOctober 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."

FAU News Release

Endangered Species Research Article
201510amoOctober 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.”

UM RSAMS News Release

Science Article

YouTube Video
201510fiu-remaOctober 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.

FIU News Release
201510fiu-predatorsOctober 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.

FIU News Release

Nature Climate Change Article
201510fit-crabOctober 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.

FIT News Release

PNAS Journal Article

Photo courtesy of Richard B. Aronson and James B. McClintock.