- June 15, 2016 - Save the Sound and Volunteers Restore Sunken Meadow Marsh, Greenwich Post
- June 7, 2016 - Question Of the Week: Resilience to Extreme Weather, Facility Executive
- June 7, 2016 - DEEP: Upwind Pollution Makes State 'Tailpipe of America', CT Post
- June, 2016 - FHWA Climate Resilience Pilot Program: Connecticut Department of Transportation, Federal Highway Administration
- June 16, 2016 - Earth Breaks Heat Record Again, But Not By As Much As Before, Associated Press
- June 14, 2016 - Disasters Are Getting Worse. How Much Are We To Blame?, E&E Publishing
- June 13, 2016 - A Simple Idea Could Help Wildlife Survive Climate Change, Climate Control
- June 12, 2016 - City Plays Russian Roulette With Flood Protection, Courier-Journal
- June 10, 2016 - The Second-Largest City In The U.S. Is On The Verge Of Being 100 Percent Renewable, Climate Progress
- June 8, 2016 - SF Bay Protection: Measure AA passes, SF Gate
- June 7, 2016 - Arctic Sea Ice Breaks May Record... By A Lot, Climate Central
- June 7, 2016 - Unabated Global Warming Threatens West's Snowpack, Water Supply, Inside Climate News
- June 6, 2016 - A Tax On Rising Sea Levels Is Making Waves In The San Francisco Bay, Co.Exist
- Climate Projections Consensus - Climate Ready Boston releases report drawing on existing research to project future climate impacts in the Boston region, including extreme temperatures, sea level rise, heavy precipitation and coastal storms.
- June 25, 2016 - Old Lyme's Forum on Climate Change, sponsored jointly by the Town of Old Lyme and the First Congressional Church of Old Lyme.
- June 27, 2016 - Exploring Climate Solutions Webinar Series about the programs and projects of the Connecticut Institute for Resilience and Climate Adaptation. Speaker: Dr. Rebecca A. French, Director of Community Engagement for CIRCA. 12pm - 1pm Register here.
June 28, 2016
- Connecticut Association of Floodplain Managers (CAFM) tour of Stratford Point living shoreline project.
Register by June 21, 2016
- July 15, 2016 - Next review date for CIRCA Matching Funds Program. These funds are meant to help Connecticut organizations bring in new sources of funding for resilience. For this reason these CIRCA funds can provide the match for proposals that will be submitted to an external funding organization. Applicants should apply to CIRCA before they submit their proposal or before the external grant award is made. The CIRCA award will provide up to 25% or up to $100,000 in funding to match non-state or non-municipal funding sources.
Local & State News Clips
Save the Sound brought together volunteers of all ages Saturday, June 11 to restore marshland at Sunken Meadow State Park. The volunteers, many of them residents of nearby towns, planted shoots of Spartina marsh grass that will take root to hold soils in place, provide wildlife habitat, and improve the park's resilience to future storms. The effort is part of a $2.5 million-dollar project funded by the Hurricane Sandy Coastal Resiliency Competitive Grant Program and administered by Save the Sound with a team of governmental and non-profit partners.
"Nature has an incredible ability to recover when we give it the chance," said Gwen Macdonald, green projects director for Save the Sound, a bi-state program of Connecticut Fund for the Environment. "When we did our first planting at Sunken Meadow last July, the site was a barren mud flat. Thanks to just a day of hard work by dedicated volunteers, it's now an acre of growing salt marsh. Today's planting will build on that effort and start to show millions of people what a comprehensive program for a healthy coastal ecosystem can look like, with cleaner water, better tidal flow, and vibrant marshes for thriving bird, fish, and wildlife populations."
"The restoration of Sunken Meadow marsh is a classic win-win, improving the health of the Long Island Sound and strengthening our shorelines to protect us in the next superstorm," said Congressman Steve Israel (NY-3). "I will continue to fight for funding at the federal level to preserve and protect the Long Island Sound, and improve the resiliency of our beautiful coastline."
Sunken Meadow State Park comprises 1,300 acres including the mouth of the Nissequogue River, salt and tidal marshes, dunes, coastal forest, and three miles of Long Island Sound beachfront. The park has been beloved by Long Island and New York City families for generations, attracting over two million visitors a year. For decades, however, an earthen berm blocked tidal flow from over 100 acres of marsh, causing marsh die off and decreased water quality. Restoration efforts began in 2008, eventually leading Save the Sound, the New York State Department of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation, and other partners to develop an ambitious
habitat restoration and green infrastructure plan
The Sunken Meadow Comprehensive Restoration and Resiliency Plan is funded by federal grant dollars from the Department of Interior/U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service through the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation.
"In the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy, we have an unprecedented opportunity to strengthen natural defenses along the Atlantic Coast to protect communities and wildlife against future storms," said USFWS Northeast Regional Scientist Rick Bennett, who leads the agency's Hurricane Sandy recovery and resilience program. "Investments in projects like this one at Sunken Meadow support the goal of President Obama's Climate Action Plan to make communities more resilient to increasingly intense future storms that are the result of a changing climate. They also provide opportunities for fishing, hiking, wildlife watching and other recreational opportunities that improve the quality of life for local residents."
The Sunken Meadow project will make the park's shoreline more resilient to waves and flooding, improve water quality in Sunken Meadow Creek and the Nissequogue River by reducing runoff from parking lots, and restore habitat for fish and wildlife. The partners also seek to improve public understanding of the park's ecology through
summer educational programming
like this weekend's planting.
In addition to New York Parks and USFWS, other project partners include Long Island Sound Study, New York Department of Environmental Conservation, and New York Sea Grant.
"This project is the result of years of hard work by a great group of partners who saw an opportunity to improve the health of this ecosystem," said Suzanne Paton, supervisory biologist with USFWS's Southern New England Coastal Program. "We're thrilled to be a part of it, and thrilled with the outcome. By restoring the tidal marsh, we're improving habitat for wildlife and making this park more resilient in the face of future storms."
"Sunken Meadow Creek is home to one of the largest coastal wetlands on the North Shore of Long Island," said EPA Regional Administrator Judith A. Enck. "By helping to plant marsh grasses, citizens will further improve the health of this rich ecosystem. I thank the many volunteers that are making real contributions to its restoration."
Today's planting is only the first major activity at the park this summer. New York Parks and Save the Sound have hired a summer education staffer to engage tourists and local students around issues of native vs. invasive species, stormwater runoff, climate change preparedness, and other topics, with a focus on opening opportunities for young nature lovers to become citizen-scientists.
Have you adopted measures to track weather conditions that might impact your facilities in order to improve resilience to these events? If so, does this involve communication with your utility providers?
announced a long-term partnership with the University of Connecticut (UConn) and Eversource Energy to combine the companies' storm outage prediction technology to create a single, more accurate model. UConn's analytics model is being integrated into Schneider's WeatherSentry Online (WSO) platform, with the aim of enabling utilities to better understand the expected impacts of storms on their utility infrastructure and to make smarter decisions in preparing for storms to minimize restoration time, cost, and impacts to customers.
With service in Connecticut, Massachusetts, and New Hampshire,
transmits and delivers electricity to 1.2 million customers in 149 cities and towns and provides natural gas to 226,000 customers in 72 communities in Connecticut.
The project will be housed at the Eversource Energy Center on the UConn campus. The Center is a partnership between the university and Eversource to develop state-of-the-art approaches for delivering reliable power and responding to severe weather and security events. Becoming a member of the partnership, Schneider Electric will apply its weather technology, weather data, and expertise in developing scalable solutions for utilities globally. With this new project, Schneider and Eversource will expand upon their long-term relationship in supporting storm preparation efforts by combining UConn's Outage Prediction Model (OPM) with Schneider's WSO platform and other weather services.
"We are excited to see the world-class research from our UConn team expand into the market," said UConn Provost & Executive Vice President for Academic Affairs, Mun Choi. "We are confident that the utility industry throughout the country will see this technology as an opportunity to leverage their outage and infrastructure data with Schneider's weather information to make informed decisions when severe weather strikes."
Meanwhile, National Institute of Building Sciences (NIBS), The American Institute of Architects (AIA), and 38 other organizations involved in the nation's design and construction industry released a report on progress made on the resilience front since the Resilience Building Coalition announced the Building Industry Statement on Resilience in 2014.
CEOs of nearly two dozen design and construction industry associations, along with building owners and operators, agreed to promote resilience in planning, building materials, design, construction, and operational techniques as the solution to making the nation's aging infrastructure more safe and secure.
"We recognize that natural and manmade hazards pose an increasing threat to the safety of the public and the vitality of our nation," reads the statement. "We further recognize that contemporary planning, building materials, design, construction and operational techniques can make our communities more resilient to these threats."
Is Connecticut the "tailpipe" of America?
This is the time of year when Connecticut experiences its highest ozone levels of the year, caused in part, by nitrogen oxide emissions by coal-burning plants and vehicle emissions.
In an offensive to help clear the air, DEEP has filed two petitions with the federal Environmental Protection Agency to require the
Brunner Island Steam Electric Station
in York County, Pa. to reduce air pollution generated from its three coal-fired electric generating units and to set stricter limits on emissions from large diesel trucks that roll through Connecticut.
"Connecticut has the highest ozone levels in the Northeast - which adversely impacts the health of our citizens and the quality of life in our state," Klee said in a release seeking federal action. "Air pollution transported into Connecticut from upwind sources and emissions from diesel-powered trucks are beyond our jurisdiction and these petitions are part of our ongoing effort to have EPA address these sources.
"Our petition is yet another salvo that sends a clear message to upwind states that Connecticut is no longer going to accept being the tailpipe of America."
Fairfield County has the most ozone-polluted air in the state, according to the
American Lung Association
. In fact, all eight Connecticut counties get an F for air pollution.
Ozone, or smog, is the most widespread air pollutant, and is created when the sun reacts with emissions from vehicles and other sources. When inhaled, ozone irritates the lungs, and can cause health problems ranging from wheezing and coughing to asthma attacks and premature death.
Klee said the Pennslyvania plant on the Susquehanna River "significantly contributes" to Connecticut's high ozone levels. The Brunner Island coal-buring plant is the sixth largest in Pennslyvania, generating 1,500 megawatts of power. It also generates 11,000 tons of nitrogen oxide. By comparison, all sources combined in Connecticut total 8,800 tons.
If EPA grants the petition it would require Brunner Island to reduce nitrogen oxide emissions in no more than three years.
DEEP also wants the EPA to have trucks reduce nitrogen oxide.
Heavy-duty highway trucks are one of the largest source groups contributing to poor air quality in Connecticut, and account for about 12.5 percent of statewide emissions of nitrogen oxides, according to a recent state air pollutant emissions inventory. Emissions from on-road heavy duty trucks operating in upwind regions outside of Connecticut affect Connecticut's air quality through the long-range transport of their air pollution into the state.
"A 90 percent reduction in diesel engine emissions is achievable through current technology, and is highly cost-effective at about $500-$1,000 per engine control system. This is a small cost relative to the price of a truck. To place in perspective, a new 18-wheeler truck cab can sell for $130,000 to $260,000, with the trailer costing an additional $30,000 to $80,000," DEEP says.
Air quality, however, has improved over the last decades. "Thanks to cleaner power plants and cleaner vehicles, we see a continued reduction of ozone and year-round particle pollution in the
2016 'State of the Air' report
. However, climate change has increased the challenges to protecting public health,
Harold P. Wimmer
, National President and CEO of the American Lung Association said in the report. "There are still nearly 20 million people in the United States that live with unhealthful levels of all three measures of air pollution the report tracks: ozone, short-term and year-round particle pollution."
The report ranks Connecticut at 14 - added with the New York/New Jersey area -as having the highest ozone days in the U.S.
Since 1996, there have been 27.5 less ozone days in Fairfield County.
And earlier this year, PSEG announced plans to shut down the last coal-burning power plant in the state. It plans to replace the Bridgeport plant with a gas-fired facility by mid-2021.
Extreme precipitation events have been more frequent and intense in Connecticut in recent years, resulting in damage to Connecticut DOT (CTDOT) infrastructure and posing safety concerns. CTDOT conducted a systems-level vulnerability assessment of bridge and culvert structures from inland flooding associated with extreme rainfall events. The assessment included data collection and field review, hydrologic and hydraulic evaluation, criticality assessment and hydraulic design criteria evaluation. This project complements numerous other facility assessments CTDOT has conducted both independently and jointly with other state agencies in the past as well as the tri-state Hurricane Sandy Follow-up and Vulnerability Assessment and Adaption Analysis (focused on coastal assets and adaptation efforts).
The Federal Highway Administration's (FHWA)'s Climate Resilience Pilot Program seeks to assist state Departments of Transportation (DOTs), Metropolitan Planning Organizations (MPOs), and Federal Land Management Agencies (FLMAs) in enhancing resilience of transportation systems to extreme weather and climate change. In 2013-2014, nineteen pilot teams from across the country partnered with FHWA to assess transportation vulnerability to climate change and extreme weather events and evaluate options for improving resilience. For more information about the pilots, visit:
National News Clips
WASHINGTON (AP) - Earth sizzled to its 13th straight month of record heat in May, but it wasn't quite as much of an over-the-top scorcher as previous months, federal scientists say.
Record May heat, from Alaska to India and especially in the oceans, put the global average temperature at 60.17 degrees Fahrenheit (15.65 degrees Celsius), according to NOAA. That's 1.57 degrees (.87 degrees Celsius) above the 20th-century average, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
There's still a good chance that June will break records even as El Nino, one of two main reasons for record heat, dissipates, scientists say. And in the U.S. Southwest temperatures are forecast to dance near 120 degrees later this week into next week. NOAA's July through September forecast is for hotter-than-average temperatures in the entire United States except a tiny circle of southeastern Texas.
"We're in a new neighborhood now as far as global temperature," said Deke Arndt, NOAA's climate monitoring chief. "We've kind of left the previous decade behind."
But it's not quite as broiling as it has been. May only broke the record - set in 2015 - by .04 degrees. It's the first time since November that a month wasn't a full degree Celsius (1.8 degrees Fahrenheit) hotter than the 20th-century average. March and February this year were 2.2 degrees Fahrenheit above normal.
"It is slightly off from the kind of unprecedented large global temperatures we've seen in the last five to seven months," Arndt says.
Arndt, like nearly every major climate scientist, says the record warm temperatures are due to a strong El Nino placed on top of man-made global warming from heat-trapping gases that come from the burning of fossil fuels.
The El Nino has just dissipated and forecasters expect its cooler flip side, La Nina, to kick in soon, which should keep global temperatures a bit lower than they've been, but still warmer than 20th-century average, Arndt said.
But that may not be quite enough to keep 2016 from being the third straight record hot year, Arndt says. That's because so far, 2016 is averaging 55.5 degrees (13.06 degrees Celsius), which beats the previous January to May record set last year by 0.43 degrees.
Jonathan Overpeck, a climate scientist at the University of Arizona, just came back from India and its record-breaking heat wave in time for potential record breaking heat in parts of Arizona.
"Thirteen months of consecutive record breaking heat is really unprecedented, and it's yet another visceral glimpse of what is yet to come as the planet warms up even a lot more," Overpeck said in an email. "No doubt about it, the planet is warming fast and we're feeling the impacts."
A cyclonic circulation swirled over Boulder, Colo., in September 2013 and drew a river of moisture from the Pacific Ocean off Mexico's coast. It dumped rain on the people below for five days.
In that month alone, Boulder received more than half the precipitation it gets in an entire year. Saturated soils refused the water. It fell down mountainsides and roared through towns.
Searching for an appropriate superlative, the National Weather Service called the storm "biblical."
The Colorado floods followed Superstorm Sandy, which had drowned the Northeast coast the previous year and cost the nation $75 billion in damage. Was this the new normal, people asked -- and what was the risk of such storms returning?
That question underpins attribution science, a relatively new field of research practiced by a small group of scientists. Their findings are meant to help people in positions of power -- politicians, humanitarian workers, water managers, hospital administrators -- make decisions about adapting to a changing world.
There were 10 extreme weather events in 2015 that cost more than $1 billion each in the United States. They killed 155 people. The death toll is grimmer globally. Roughly 850,000 people died worldwide between 1980 and 2014 in tropical storms, floods, heat waves, droughts and other catastrophes, according to Munich Re Group. Most deaths have been in Asia. Most monetary losses have been in North America.
The toll gives the scientists' communiqués political power. President Obama has used freak weather to help convince people that climate change is here, now, to the consternation of Republicans. Rep. Lamar Smith (R-Texas), chairman of the House Science, Space and Technology Committee and a self-proclaimed climate skeptic, criticized the attempt in February.
"Statements by President Obama and others that attempt to link extreme weather events to climate change are unfounded," Smith said.
So, who is correct? It depends. On the one hand, we live in a changing world, and all extreme events are caused by both climate change and nature. On the other, scientists cannot find a human fingerprint in many extreme weather events with great confidence using the techniques they have at hand. At most, they can tie heat waves and cold spells to climate change. They understand less about droughts and heavy rainfall, and very little about hurricanes, tropical storms, wildfires, extreme snow and hailstorms, according to the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine.
That has led at least one outspoken scientist to question whether traditional attribution downplays the impact people have on the climate. Now the scientific community is faced with a new question: asking not whether humans affect extreme weather events, but assuming they do and instead questioning the extent of their impact.
Global warming is
chasing plants and animals
, forcing them to head uphill or north to find suitable habitat. Scientists have considered migration corridors - restored, healthy natural areas that connect current habitats with likely landing spots - as a way to help plants and animals stay a step ahead of climate change.
New findings published on Monday in the
Proceedings of the National Academy of Science
quantify just how much of a benefit they would provide. The report shows that corridors up to 62 miles long would link up to 25 percent more habitat across the U.S. and on average help species adapt to an extra 4.9°F (2.7°C) of warming.
"It's something land managers should be thinking about right now,"
, an ecologist at Georgia Tech who led the new research, said. "Increasing connectivity between natural areas really does improve plants' and animals' ability to track their current climate."
There are major hurdles standing between species and future greener pastures. Sprawling urban areas, major agricultural operations and other human developments have fragmented the landscape, forcing some species toward a dead end and their possible demise.
Corridors could help alleviate that. They aren't literally corridors or paths for wildlife to stroll along, but rather stretches of land where the habitat - say, a river or well-managed commercial forest - is healthy enough to migrate as the world warms.
Aging facilities place city at risk of catastrophic flooding, officials warn.
Tucked against an Ohio River levee in Rubbertown sits a plain brick building that on many rainy days is all that stands between nature's fury and deadly flooding that could impact tens of thousands of residents.
The Paddy's Run Flood Pumping Station is 1950s technology with a 21st-century job of protecting 70,000 homes and 6,000 businesses in more than 40 neighborhoods extending from Park Duvalle to Middletown.
It was designed to last 50 years. It's now approaching 65 - old enough to fray the nerves of the Metropolitan Sewer District's Darren Thompson at the thought of what would happen if those pumps fail.
In March and April of 2011, high waters and rain forced MSD to call into service all six of the stations' archaic pumps - hoping they would hold up.
"We were pumping all we could handle, 874 million gallons per day," said Thompson, who oversees the community's
Ohio River Flood Protection System
. "It was very nerve-wracking, knowing this equipment is very old, knowing that these pump controls could give out at any time, and you'd have nothing else to support the operation.
"At that point, the only thing you can resort to are evacuations."
Just one of 16 flood pumping stations in Louisville - more than half beyond their designed lifespan - the Paddy's Run's antique electronics, pumps and corroded pipes could be the poster child for why
MSD's board has approved
a 20 percent rate increase, starting Aug. 1. That could add about $9 a month to the typical residential sewer and drainage bill, and MSD officials have said next year they plan to go back to rate increases typical of past years - 5.5 percent.
But the proposal has hit a massive roadblock at the Louisville Metro Council, with key local officials unconvinced that the utility has justified its need for a such a large increase. It could not find a
single legislative sponsor
, though MSD is still scheduled to make its case at a council budget committee hearing June 15.
"I've asked them (MSD officials) to explain not just to me but to our constituents, 'Is there a danger? Is there an emergency?' " said Metro Council President David Yates. "I put the ball back in their room to explain all that."
June 10, 2016 - The Second-Largest City In The U.S. Is On The Verge Of Being 100 Percent Renewable, Climate Progress
Los Angeles is a city born of Thomas Edison's inventions. The movie camera, obviously, helped propel it to become the second-largest city in the United States, but the light bulb, too, is integral to the city's heritage. Unlike many of the country's older cities, Los Angeles barely knew a time without electricity. There is even a hip bar called The Edison paying homage to the city's history in a former power plant in the heart of downtown.
Growing up alongside the car and electricity industries, Los Angeles has long been seen as one of the country's most modern cities. But now, as our collective dependence on power has been found guilty of damaging our water, air, and climate, the city is taking steps to be part of the new future: a clean energy future.
The City Council is going to consider
this month that would direct the municipal utility to determine how to move the city to 100 percent renewable energy. The motion already has broad support from councilmembers, and Los Angeles officials confirmed that the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power (LADWP) has begun work on the report, which will be developed with research partners, including the Dept. of Energy.
The motion from council members Paul Krekorian and Mike Bonin reads:
Thousands of acres of land around the San Francisco Bay will be returned to wetlands after voters in the nine-county Bay Area approved a new $12-per-parcel tax that will raise millions of dollars for bay enhancement and habitat restoration.
Grants from the $500 million raised over the next 20 years through the measure will begin to be distributed in 2018 and could attract additional state and federal funds, supporters said. Measure AA passed with 69 percent of the vote in the primary election, exceeding the cumulative two-thirds majority required for approval.
Measure AA is the state's first-ever parcel tax to be levied across a region.
"The Bay Area was voting as one region, and the combined result shows that the region as a whole cares about the bay," Executive Director David Lewis of Save the Bay said Wednesday. "We should all celebrate this victory. It really shows us how strong local support is for San Francisco Bay."
The flat, $12-per-parcel tax will first be assessed July 1, 2017.
Measure AA exceeded the required two-thirds majority vote in five of the nine counties, with the strongest support in San Francisco, where it passed with 77 percent. Voters also favored the measure in Alameda County (74.6 percent), Marin County (72.4 percent), San Mateo County (71.4 percent) and Santa Clara County (69.4 percent).
The measure failed to reach the two-thirds majority in Contra Costa County (64.7 percent), Sonoma County (63.2 percent), Napa County (57.1 percent), and Solano County (53.3 percent). Still, the cumulative total from all nine counties kept the vote above the two-thirds majority required for passage.
A total of 837,162 people across the Bay Area voted in favor of the measure, while 371,542 voted against it.
"Bay Area voters made history by passing the region's first truly regional ballot measure," said Jim Wunderman, president of the Bay Area Council, in a statement. "This investment will help ensure the Bay Area is positioned as the most climate resilient coastal region on earth."
Supporters of the measure said a dedicated revenue source is needed to restore marshes along the northern and southern edges of the bay, which would serve as buffers from sea-level rise in the coming decades. The marshes would also protect inland areas from flooding during high tides and severe storms.
San Francisco Bay Restoration Authority
will distribute the money through grants, which will be aimed at improving water quality, restoring wildlife habitat and increasing public access along the shoreline. The restoration authority will use the tax to fund projects in all nine counties.
The authority's governing board is made up of elected officials from throughout the Bay Area, including San Francisco Supervisor Scott Wiener and Mountain View Mayor Patricia Showalter.
The parcel tax would raise $25 million a year for 20 years before automatically expiring in 2037.
Opponents of the measure said it unfairly assessed the same tax on inland homeowners and multimillion-dollar businesses on the bay.
Arctic sea ice shrank to its lowest level in 38 years last month, setting a record low for the month of May and setting up conditions for what could become the smallest Arctic ice extent in history, according to National Snow and Ice Data Center
"We didn't just break the old May record, we're way below the previous one," NSIDC Director
Compared to normal conditions, the Arctic ice cap was missing a Texas-sized slab of ice in May. It spread across 4.63 million square miles of the Arctic Ocean, Hudson Bay and adjacent areas of the North
Atlantic - an area 224,000 square miles smaller than the previous low record for the month set in 2004.
May's record low follows four previous monthly record lows set in January, February and April.
Temperatures averaged about 3°C (5°F) above normal across the Arctic Ocean this spring. The warmth made daily sea ice extents average about 232,000 square miles smaller than during any May in the 38 years scientists have been gathering data using satellites.
The Arctic, which saw unusually warm temperatures near-freezing during a severe storm in December, is warming twice as fast as the rest of the globe as the climate changes. This year's extreme El Nino may also have helped crank up the heat.
Sea ice this year is melting at a pace two to four weeks faster than normal as pulses of warm air have been streaming into the Arctic from eastern Siberia and northern Europe and sea ice has retreated early from the Beaufort Sea.
Barrow, Alaska, on the Beaufort Sea,
its earliest snowmelt in 78 years last month. Normally, snow begins to retreat in late June or July, but the snow began to melt May 13 - 10 days sooner than the previous record set in 2002.
"The El Nino certainly had something to do with this," Serreze said. "It can have impacts on weather conditions very far away from the tropical Pacific."
These warm conditions at the beginning of the summer melting season have set up the Arctic sea ice to shrink below its all-time record lowest extent set in 2012, he said.
The extent to which the ice cap will melt this summer is entirely dependent on summer weather patterns that scientists have no way to predict more than 10 days in advance, he said.
"If we had a summer that is kind of cool and stormy, that will lead to less melt through the summer," Serreze said. "That could keep you from reaching a new record."
"Will we end up with very low sea ice extent this September? I think pretty much absolutely," he said.
New study shows a snowline creeping higher in the Rockies, Sierra Nevada and Cascades and the resulting decrease in spring runoff endangers those below.
Low-elevation snowpack across the Rocky Mountains, the Sierra Nevada and the Cascades will disappear in the coming decades if global warming continues unabated, according to
a new study
. The changes will cause water shortages in the region and dry out forests and grasslands, the study's authors say.
According to the research, the snow line-the altitude above which it snows, and below which it rains-will climb as much as 800 feet in the Colorado Rockies, and 1,400 feet in the Rockies of Idaho and Wyoming by 2100 if greenhouse gas emissions continue at the current rate. The snow line will rise by an average of 950 feet across six Western mountain regions by century's end. The study, by a team of University of Utah scientists, was published online in the journal Geophysical Research Letters last month.
A shift of that magnitude means less spring runoff for millions of square miles of watersheds in the lower elevations of the West. The melting of the spring snowpack determines how much water feeds critical reservoirs in 11 Western states. That water helps sustain Phoenix, Los Angeles, Las Vegas and other cities, as well as farms and mountain ecosystems, through hot, dry summers.
Less spring snowpack means water managers will have to capture runoff earlier in the season, and dried up forests, brush and grasslands will increase early season wildfires. Western ski resorts will also be affected, because the snowline will rise above the base elevation of many of them, according to the study.
"We identified an elevation threshold above which precipitation is the main driver of springtime snowpack," said University of Utah climate researcher Court Strong, who led the study. Right now, that line is at about 6,500 feet, but it will rapidly march up the mountain during the coming decades if global warming continues unchecked, Strong said.
Along with melting Arctic ice and vanishing glaciers worldwide, declining snow cover is a powerful gauge of global warming impacts, researchers say.
"Snowpack is one of the most pure forms of a climate indicator," said John Abatzoglou, a University of Idaho geography professor who studies climate impacts but was not involved in the study. "We can see our snowpack, we can see when it decreases, or moves up and down the mountain...It's one the best independent measures when it comes to climate change."
Many cities are
for the rising disaster risk that comes with climate change and sea level rise-by 2050, the growing flood risk alone will threaten 1.3 billion people worldwide. Even cities that have the best intentions to prepare and adapt to these threats often hit a wall when it comes to raising the large sums of money actually needed for new infrastructure.
Home to a population of about 7 million, the region surrounding San Francisco Bay is banding together in an unusual step to do something about it. In nine Bay Area counties, Tuesday's ballot will include the Bay's first regional tax -a $12 annual fee paid by every parcel property owner in these counties-and it would all go towards buffeting the area's shoreline against coastal flooding, while restoring marshlands that clean pollutants from the Bay's waters and provide habitat for fish and wildlife.
But while Measure AA
enjoys broad support
from environmentalists, businesses, and politicians, including hundreds of organizations, it has also drawn some simmering criticism from some taxpayer groups and low-income advocates
who say it
is a giveaway to the rich people and tech companies that own expensive waterfront property. Since anyone who owns a parcel, even if it's inland, pays the same $12 a year-it's an example of a regressive tax that affects the poor at a higher proportional rate than the rich.
Before the California Gold Rush, the Bay Area had 200,000 acres of wetlands. Today, after decades of filling in areas for development and draining areas to farm hay or make salt evaporation ponds, there are only a little more than 40,000 acres left. Studies estimate that increasing the amount of marshes to 100,000 acres would provide sufficient flood protection and help rehabilitate the Bay. The government has even bought back from private owners the property that would be needed to restore them. The proposal is designed to raise a total of $500 million over 20 years, which is not nearly enough to fully reach restoration goals for the marshlands but will at least accelerate long-delayed plans.
"It's not that difficult to restore tidal marsh," says David Lewis, executive director of Save The Bay, the grassroots group that formed in the 1960s in order to save what remained of the Bay's natural areas. "The missing ingredient is money. We've known that for about a decade."
What has changed in recent years is climate change awareness-and fear of sea level rise. "It means we need to get started sooner," he says. Marshes can adjust to increases in sea level and provide crucial flood protection if they have time to adapt-but it will become harder and far more expensive if another 20 or 30 years goes by.
In 2009, the counties created the regional San Francisco Bay Restoration Authority, a body authorized to make grants to improve the Bay's health. With no real staff yet, it has spent the last six years holding hearings and working with politicians and activists to figure out how to raise money quickly, to begin large-scale restoration work.
About $3 million has been poured into passing the measure, which requires a two-thirds majority vote in all nine counties. A large coalition of groups have been involved. Donors have included Facebook and Google and many other businesses that see an interest in improving the Bay.
"A lot of public infrastructure is at risk-airports, water treatment plants, highways and other roads, light rail," says Mike Mielke, senior vice president of the Silicon Valley Leadership Group, which includes many large tech businesses. "Many of our members who are located along the Bay are already prepared for those kinds of contingencies themselves at their corporate campuses, but the region is not."
Developers and corporations do have a clear interest in these plans.
A report by
the San Francisco Public Press found at least $21 billion in housing and commercial developments, including tech campuses, the new stadium for the Golden State Warriors, and San Francisco's ferry terminal will be vulnerable to flooding over the next century, as sea-level rise pushes flood waters from storms up to eight feet above today's high-tide line.
Mielke says it is more about making sure the Bay stays healthy for everyone to enjoy, which clearly includes tech workers. "Folks come here, even though they have a high cost of living, because of the quality of life. It's a big reason why we can attract the best and the brightest here. The Bay is a big part of that," he says.
Based on polling over the last few months, its broad coalition of supporters, and lack of organized campaigning against it, Measure AA backers are optimistic it will receive the two-thirds vote needed to pass on Tuesday. The authority had considered many options for raising the funds and settled on the $12 a year parcel tax as the best chance of success, because it's a relatively painless amount of money distributed widely.
If passed, Lewis, of Save the Bay, believes the tax would be an unprecedented example of regional cooperation to adapt to the effects of climate change and could serve as a model in similar coastal regions, such as the Gulf of Mexico. The local funds raised from the tax could help the region bring in more state and federal money, too.
Like many climate change adaptation measures, wetlands restoration is hard to distinguish from everyday environmental conservation work. "This measure would need to be done if we weren't expecting climate change or sea level rise. It's just more urgent to get it accelerated now."
Climate Projections Consensus
Climate Ready Boston releases report drawing on existing research to project future climate impacts in the Boston region, including extreme temperatures, sea level rise, heavy precipitation and coastal storms.
This report was prepared for the Climate Ready Boston project, an initiative led by the City of Boston in partnership with the Green Ribbon Commission. The goal of Climate Ready Boston is to generate solutions for resilient buildings, neighborhoods, and infrastructure to help Boston and its metro region prosper in the face of long-term climate change impacts.
June 25, 2016
- Old Lyme's Forum on Climate Change, sponsored jointly by the Town of Old Lyme and the First Congregational Church of Old Lyme. Open to the public.
Come to Old Lyme Town Hall to Discuss and learn what to expect from weather extremes on our beaches.
- Saturday, June 25, 10:30 a.m.-noon - Insurance, Real Estate, and Business Concerns
- Panelist: George B. Bradner, Director and Co-Chair - State Long Term Recovery, Property Casualty Division, Connecticut Insurance Department
- Panelist: Mike Barbaro, Incoming President - Connecticut Realtors
- Panelist: Bill Richards, Emergency Management - City of Milford
- Panelist: Julio Casiano, Deputy District Director - Connecticut District Office, United States Small Business Administration
- Moderator: April Capone, Former Mayor - East Haven
June 27, 2016
- Exploring Climate Solutions Webinar Series featuring Dr. Rebecca A. French, Director of Community Engagement for CIRCA.
Exploring Climate Solutions
webinar series explores innovative and successful climate change solutions across Connecticut and the nation.
In our upcoming June 27th lunchtime
, join us to hear from Dr. Rebecca French, Director of Community Engagement at the
Connecticut Institute for Resilience and Climate Adaptation
(CIRCA). CIRCA provides opportunities to Connecticut municipalities to work with the institute on research projects as pilot sites, a Matching Funds program to leverage additional grants for resilience in Connecticut, and a Municipal Resilience Grants program for planning and design for resilience. This presentation will give an overview of CIRCA partnership and funding opportunities as well as ongoing and future planned products for municipalities such as future flooding scenarios and model policy and planning.
CIRCA helps coastal and inland floodplain communities in Connecticut adapt and make their human-built infrastructure more resilient while protecting ecosystems and the services they offer to human society. To date, CIRCA has engaged with communities to understand their challenges, provided funding opportunities for researchers and municipalities, and is currently assisting the State Agencies Fostering Resilience Council, SAFR and the Connecticut Department of Housing with implementing the $54.3 million National Disaster Resilience pilot project and regional plan. CIRCA supported the development of the State's application for the national competition.
Please join us to learn more by registering
June 28, 2016
- Connecticut Association of Floodplain Managers (CAFM) tour of Stratford Point living shoreline project. Register by June 21, 2016.
Living shorelines help dissipate wave energy, allowing sediment deposition such that protective tidal vegetation can take root, thereby providing both wildlife habitat and shoreline protection. CAFM is presenting a guided tour of the artificial reef balls living shoreline project constructed at Stratford Point in 2013. The tour will be given by the Sacred Heart University research team that helped pilot the project.
The request for CFM CECs for this tour are pending with ASFPM. The tour will take place at Stratford Point, 1207 Prospect Drive, Stratford, CT on Tuesday, June 28, 2016. Parking is adjacent to the Audubon building. See the registration flyer for more details! Please register by June 21, 2016.
As part of its national effort to build resilient coastal ecosystems, communities and economies, NOAA is announcing today the availability of up to $8.5 million in funding for coastal and marine habitat restoration in 2016.
NOAA is seeking proposals for habitat restoration projects under the Coastal Ecosystem Resiliency grant program. The proposed projects should reduce the risks to coastal communities from extreme weather events, changing environmental conditions and known or potential climate change effects.
"People, businesses and their communities face enormous risks from extreme weather and climate change," said Pat Montanio, director of the Office of Habitat Conservation for NOAA Fisheries. "These grants reflect NOAA's efforts to better understand those risks, and help them to make smart decisions for a rapidly changing planet. The funded projects will use NOAA's environmental intelligence to reduce communities' vulnerability to environmental threats and preserve coastal and ocean resources for future generations."
In addition to strengthening the resiliency of coastal ecosystems, these projects will support the recovery and conservation of protected resources, and help promote productive fisheries by restoring habitat for marine life to reproduce and develop, which are key NOAA Fisheries missions.
"Investing in habitat restoration is a win-win for marine life and coastal communities," said Montanio. "Restoration activities create healthy habitat for protected species and valuable fisheries, while also providing ecosystem services for coastal regions such as barriers against extreme storm surge or sea level rise."
The deadline for applications for the Coastal Ecosystem Resiliency funding opportunity is August 16. NOAA will accept proposals requesting between $100,000 and $2 million. More information can be found online at grants.gov or from NOAA's Office of Habitat Conservation
These funds are meant to help Connecticut organizations bring in new sources of funding for resilience. For this reason these CIRCA funds can provide the match for proposals that
will be submitted to an external funding organization. Applicants should apply to CIRCA before they submit their proposal or before the external grant award is made. The CIRCA award will provide up to 25% or up to $100,000 in support to match non-state or non-municipal funding sources.
CIRCA will consider requests from Connecticut municipalities, institutions, universities, foundations, and other non-governmental organizations for matching funds for projects that address the mission of the Institute. To be funded, a successful Matching Funds Request Form must have a commitment of primary funding within 6 months of the CIRCA award announcement, or have received a waiver from the CIRCA Executive Steering Committee. CIRCA Matching Funds will provide up to 25% of the primary funder's contribution other than municipal or State of Connecticut funds to enhance the likely success of project proposals that advance CIRCA research and implementation priorities.
Proposals are required to leverage independent funding awarded through a competitive process.
Project proposals should develop knowledge and/or experience that is transferable to multiple locations in Connecticut and have well-defined and measurable goals. Preference will be given to those that involve collaboration with CIRCA to address at least one of the Institutes' priority areas.
Those requesting Matching Funds should consult the CIRCA office via email at CIRCA_matchingfunds@uconn.edu with any questions. Please see our growing Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) page.
Matching Funds requests will be accepted on a rolling basis. Awardees must confirm availability of the primary funding source related to the proposal within six months.
The Resilience Roundup highlights
CIRCA's presence in the news, provides links to recent local/state/national news articles related to resilience and adaptation, and announces upcoming events and seminars.
The Connecticut Institute for Resilience and Climate Adaptation's (CIRCA) mission is to increase the resilience and sustainability of vulnerable communities along Connecticut's coast and inland waterways to the growing impacts of climate change and extreme weather on the natural, built, and human environment. The institute is located at the University of Connecticut's Avery Point campus and includes faculty from across the university. CIRCA is a partnership between UConn and the Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (CT DEEP).