Monday, November 24, 2014

California's Getting Creative on Adapting to Drought

LA State Historic Park
By Whitney Reynier

California cities are typically “designed…on the promise of nearly endless water,” but with much of the state facing recurrent and severe drought conditions, it may be time to start thinking adaptation.

KQED Science, a program of National Public Radio (NPR), recently covered different methods of creating drought-adapted Californian cities. Some ideas are well-known and have already been implemented with high success, including investing in drought-tolerant landscaping to reduce water use, and installing green infrastructure and water entrapment features (e.g., bioswales and rain barrels) to capture what little precipitation does fall. Other ideas trend to the futuristic, including multi-function buildings that harvest water from fog and are adapted to survive inundation from sea level rise.

Check out the article to learn more about the hot (no pun intended) topics of water efficiency and protecting and enhancing local water provisioning sources!

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

100 Resilient Cities: Rethinking the Urban Cemetery

Friday, October 24, 2014

Climate Change and U.S. National Security: Pentagon Releases 2014 Climate Change Adaptation Roadmap

By Rachel M. Gregg 

The U.S. Department of Defense (DOD) recently released its Climate Change Adaptation Roadmap, a strategy to combat the threats posed by climate change and the potential exacerbation of existing challenges, such as infectious disease.

The Roadmap's opening sentence reads: "Climate change will affect the [DOD's] ability to defend the Nation and poses immediate risks to U.S. national security." The primary goals laid out include:
  1. Identifying and assessing the effects of climate change on the DOD;
  2. Integrating climate change throughout DOD operations and managing associated risks; and
  3. Collaborating with stakeholders on the multifaceted challenges posed by climate change.
If you're in search of some additional reading, check Mark Hertsgaard's piece in Bloomberg Businessweek, The Military Takes on Climate Change Deniers.

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Call for Proposals Open for the 2nd National Adaptation Forum

The National Adaptation Forum is a biennial gathering created by a group of professionals from the private and public sectors concerned about the need to respond to and prepare for the effects of climate change. 

EcoAdapt, along with several partners, sponsored the 1st National Adaptation Forum in April 2013 in Denver, CO. Next year, we invite you to join us and present your adaptation work May 12-14, 2015 in St. Louis, MO!

The sessions this year are based around EcoAdapt's Adaptation Ladder of EngagementTM, a structure we created to help individuals and organizations assess their State of AdaptationTM.
There are several options available for your submissions:
  • Symposium
  • Individual Talk
  • Training Session
  • Working Group
  • Poster Presentation
  • Tools Café

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Guest Blog: Better be ready, as El Niño may strike soon

By Emily Wilkinson, Research Fellow, Overseas Development Institute

I was working as a journalist in Peru in 1999 in the aftermath of the 1997-98 El Niño and saw the devastation first hand. Heading north from Lima, the flood damage to houses was very visible. Large sections of road were cut off by landslides, buildings were turned to rubble and cultivated fields laid to waste.

Rising sea surface temperatures suggest that another El Niño is on its way. The UN's weather agency, the World Meteorological Organisation, says there is a 60% chance of it starting before September this year. An El Niño event usually happens every five years, but a severe one hits every 15 to 20 years, so we are due for another.

The El Niño Southern Oscillation, to give it its full title, is characterised by higher water temperatures in equatorial regions of the Pacific Ocean that lead to changes in wind patterns. This has widespread effects, from higher-than-normal rainfall in the Americas, to droughts in India and Australia and heavy snowfall in the UK. If a severe El Niño hits this year it would bring heavy rainfall to South America in December. A lot still needs to be done to protect lives and livelihoods and the next four months are critical.

In Peru, local governments have identified flood control channels and embankment projects that would help minimise losses. This is really encouraging. A recent report published recently by UNDP and ODI says local governments should come up with their own risk management projects and seek support to implement them. But national government bureaucracy in Peru is holding things up. In the border province of Piura, 115 small projects have been identified to prevent flooding and landslides, but none have received funding yet and local officials are getting nervous. There are even calls for the National Public Investment System to relax its rules so projects can start immediately. 
Landslide in Aguas Calientes, Peru (Huldah/Wikimedia Commons)

In neighbouring Ecuador there are problems that may take longer to fix. Disaster risks are not addressed in 90% of Ecuador’s municipal development plans, said a source in a provincial planning department. This means that buildings keep going up in high-risk areas.

Despite these issues, much has changed in South America since 1998. I would expect the overall impact of a severe El Niño to be less. Banks across South America are in better financial shape this year to deal with the costs than in the past, according to Moody's Investors Service. Over the last decade, economic growth, poverty reduction and disaster risk governance  reforms have made Peru and Ecuador more resilient to climate extremes. At the Regional Platform for Disaster Risk Reduction in the Americas last month, Ecuador’s Minister of Defence María Fernanda Espinosa, spoke of ‘constant improvements in practices, laws and standards for risk reduction’.

Scientists now know a lot more about the phenomenon and can give advance warning of the kind of El Niño event that is expected. I spoke to UNDP Peru’s Alfredo Zerga, who said that a lot can be done to prepare for a severe El Niño now. Families can find out if their home is in a flood-prone area as all local governments have risk maps, and they can identify points that are higher than the surrounding topography. These actions will certainly help save lives.

So how will South America fare when the next severe El Niño hits? Thanks to strong economic performance, political will and decentralisation of risk management, we have come a long way since 1999, but populations are still at risk and urgent action is needed.

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Moving Forward: Learning, Planning, Networking and Adapting to Climate Change in the Carolinas

By Alex Score

During the Carolinas Climate Resilience Conference last week, it was evident that climate change is already impacting the region. Approximately 200 scientists, academics, local government planners, state officials, business representatives, and non-profit organizations came together to discuss ways to make the region more resilient. The conference was organized by the Carolinas Integrated Sciences and Assessments (CISA) with the goal of providing a platform to share experiences and knowledge of opportunities, tools, resources, local initiatives, and expertise.

The Carolinas are extremely vulnerable to rising seas, increased temperatures, and decreased water availability. The regional report, Climate of the Southeast United States: Variability, Change, Impacts, and Vulnerability – part of the just released Third National Climate Assessment, estimates that the region will see temperature increases, increasing sea levels between 1-4 feet by 2100, and declining regional water availability and quality, largely due to increasing population growth and land-use changes.

The conference highlighted local actions and solutions, moving away from political debates on the causes and/or existence of climate change. Examples on ways the region is starting to prepare for change and becoming more resilient include:

  • Incorporating sea level rise preparedness into comprehensive plans
  • Working with communities to help them assess and identify risk, hazards, and vulnerability to climate change
  • Integrating climate change into sustainability planning
  • Managing runoff with low impact development and stormwater controls
  • Merging public space with green infrastructure
  • Developing climate-resilient crops
  • Adapting to drought through water conservation technology
  • Promoting public participation in state fisheries management
  • Building resilient communities through public engagement

Monday, April 28, 2014

Earth Day Lecture and Award Ceremony

EcoAdapt spent Earth Day with the Women’s Environmental Leadership Program (WE LEAD) at Unity College in Maine. Lara gave the Lapping Lecture, talked to their student Fish Bowl and received their Women’s Environmental Award. A great honor to spend Earth Day with the school. Extra bonus! Lara met the 48th President of the United States

Friday, March 21, 2014

EcoAdapt's Dr. Hansen on Montana Public Radio for a St. Patrick's Day interview!

Lara talked to Montana Public Radio for St. Patrick's Day about climate change and the need to starting doing things differently today to get better outcomes in the future. If you have ten minutes, give it a listen: managers-gather-talk-about- adapting-climate-change.

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Vulnerability Assessment and Adaptation Strategies for Focal Resources of the Sierra Nevada

EcoAdapt is pleased to announce the release of the reports from the Climate Adaptation Project for the Sierra Nevada. Final reports and products include A Climate Change Vulnerability Assessment for Focal Resources of the Sierra Nevada, which describes the vulnerability assessment methods used and summarizes the findings for twenty-three ecosystems and species of the region, and Climate Change Adaptation Strategies for Focal Resources of the Sierra Nevada, which details adaptation strategies and actions for a smaller subset of focal resources. Two additional vulnerability assessment products, vulnerability briefings and vulnerability technical syntheses, have also been released. Vulnerability briefings highlight key vulnerabilities for a given resource while vulnerability syntheses provide a more comprehensive understanding of the process and findings.

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Announcing the 2nd National Adaptation Forum!

Date: May 12-14, 2015
Location: St. Louis, MO
Brought to you by EcoAdapt, the National Adaptation Forum Steering Committee, and our generous sponsors, we announce the Second National Adaptation Forum. The Forum is a biennial gathering created by a group of professionals from the private and public sectors concerned about the need to respond to and prepare for the effects of climate change. The event represents a collective effort to enhance the resilience of the Nation's communities, resources, and economy in the face of a changing climate. 

The Inaugural National Adaptation Forum was beyond successful with more than 500 attendees, representing 44 states, all levels of government, non-government organizations, community groups, academia, and private industry. Participants experienced professional development, and information sharing through an innovative and comprehensive program featuring plenary sessions, symposia, working groups, training sessions, exhibit booths, poster session, and networking events. 

The next Forum will take place May 12-14, 2015, in St. Louis, MO, and is poised to be an even greater success, representing more aspects of the far-reaching adaptation community. While there, participants learn how to make their work climate informed, share what they have learned with others, and develop a stronger network of like-minded peers. This community is energizing and considers the National Adaptation Forum as the place to build momentum, while simultaneously keeping abreast of new science and engaging new stakeholders. Participants leave ready to take Action Today for a Better Tomorrow.

Learn more about what our participants thought about the Inaugural National Adaptation Forum in this compelling video!

Be a part of the solution and get in on the ground floor as a sponsor for the National Adaptation Forum in 2015. Learn more about the opportunities to participate in the Second National Adaptation Forum by reviewing the prospectus today. Stay tuned for more information as the Forum takes shape by visiting

Friday, February 7, 2014

2013 won't be getting a parade but it will get in the record books!

The annals of hotness will record 2013 as the 6th hottest year since records began (see below), but it seems unlikely that anyone will throw a parade to mark the event (Go Hawks!!). Share your climatological record celebration ideas here!!

Associated Press

2013 was 6th-warmest year on record -- meteorological group

Henry Gass, E&E reporter

Published: Wednesday, February 5, 2014

The World Meteorological Organization announced today that 2013 was one of the top 10 warmest years since modern record keeping began. Continuing the trend from last decade's record-breaking temperatures, the WMO ranked 2013 as the sixth-warmest year since modern records began more than a century ago, tied with 2007. The global land and ocean surface temperature was 0.5 degree Celsius above the 1961-1990 average and 0.03 C higher than the most recent 2001-2010 decadal average.
Thirteen of the 14 warmest years on record have occurred in the 21st century. 1988, a former record holder, has now dropped out of the top 20 in the space of 25 years.
The WMO analysis averaged global temperature data sets from four organizations: the Hadley Centre of the U.K. Met Office combined with the University of East Anglia; the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration; NASA's Goddard Institute of Space Studies; and reanalysis-based data from the European Centre for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts.
Both NOAA and NASA released their individual rankings two weeks ago, and although individual calculation methods meant each organization ranked 2013 slightly differently, each one had it in the top 10. The ECMWF and NOAA both ranked 2013 the fourth-warmest year on record, while NASA had it seventh (ClimateWire, Jan. 22).
Gavin Schmidt, deputy director of the Goddard Institute, said that the differences among the separate rankings were more a result of data treatment than raw observations and that the variations were small enough to be well within the groups' margins of error. The difference between fourth and seventh place is just 0.02 C.
"The bottom line is this is an analysis that is very coherent with all the other analyses," he said. "This is another top 10 year along with all other top 10 years we've had."
2013 was especially warm given it was an ENSO-neutral year, meaning it didn't experience a warming El Niño event or a cooling La Niña event, both major drivers of natural climate variability. The WMO analysis found 2013 to be among the four warmest ENSO-neutral years on record.
Moving forward, Schmidt said there have been "hints" of an El Niño event arriving in the second half of 2014. If that event does materialize, he said it's very likely this year will be another top 10 year, or even a top three year depending on the strength of the El Niño.
"And if we go into 2015 with an El Niño in place, then that's very likely to be the warmest year on record," he added.
WMO Secretary-General Michel Jarraud said in a news release that the underlying trend in recent global warming was "undeniable."
"Given the record amounts of greenhouse gases in our atmosphere, global temperatures will continue to rise for generations to come," he said.

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

The 5 Cs: Charles, Chocolate, Chickens, and Climate Change
By Lara Hansen and Rachel M. Gregg

What an amazing news day! In a fascinating turn of events, Peter Brabeck-Letmathe, Chairman of Nestlé, declared that climate change is a purely natural occurrence and that taking action to limit it would be assuming ourselves to be God, during the same news cycle that Prince Charles declared those that don't see the need to act to be "the headless chicken brigade."** Mr. Brabeck-Letmathe's statement is interesting in that it overlooks the fact that by his logic, emitting greenhouse gases and changing the atmosphere would already be playing God. However perhaps logic is difficult when you are part of a brigade of headless chickens. Meanwhile a new study in Geophysical Research Letters indicates that the people of the Eastern Gulf of Mexico may have increasingly more opportunities to consider whether hurricanes are an act of God or enhanced by the changing climate.

** No, this is not a lost Monty Python skit, although "Nobody expects the Headless Chicken Brigade!" would be amazing television!

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

New Year, New Facts on Adaptation at the Federal Level in the United States!

Happy New Year all!!

Check out this quick overview of the action to date taken by several of everyone's favorite federal agencies. It includes details on legislation, executive action(s), and the status of federal agency adaptation plans.

U.S. Capitol