Archive for the ‘climate change’ Category

Highways in the Coastal Environment: Assessing Extreme Events

March 15, 2015 Comments off

Highways in the Coastal Environment: Assessing Extreme Events (PDF)
Source: Federal Highway Administration

The US transportation system is vulnerable to coastal extreme event storms today and this vulnerability will increase with climate change. Hurricane Sandy caused over $10 billion in damage to coastal roads, rails, tunnels, and other transportation facilities in New York and New Jersey (Blake et al. 2013, NOAA 2013). Hurricanes Ivan (2004), Katrina (2005), Ike (2008), and other storms have also caused billions in damage to coastal roads and bridges throughout the Gulf Coast. Portions of California State Route 1, the Pacific Coast Highway, have been relocated away from the ocean in response to bluff erosion threatening the highway. Costs of lost business when critical transportation services are interrupted after coastal storms have also been significant.

This vulnerability will increase as sea levels rise. Many projections of future sea levels suggest accelerated rise rates resulting from global climate change. Higher sea levels will combine with future extreme events to increase the vulnerability of coastal highways, bridges, and other transportation infrastructure. Thus, damage from coastal hazards such as hurricanes, high waves, tsunamis, and extreme tides will increase in cost, frequency, and magnitude. It is estimated that over 60,000 roadway miles in the US are exposed to coastal storm surge (FHWA 2008). The degree to which that exposure, and resulting vulnerability, will increase as a result of climate change is currently unknown.

The transportation authorization act, MAP-21 – the Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century, lists “protection against extreme events” as an eligible project purpose for federal funding of construction, replacement, rehabilitation, or preservation of bridges (P.L. 112-141: Section 119 (d) (2) (B)). The FHWA guidance memo entitled “Eligibility of Activities to Adapt to Climate Change and Extreme Weather Events under the Federal-Aid and Federal Lands Highway Program” (FHWA 2012a), provides more specific information on the use of federal highway program funds in the planning, design and construction of highways to adapt to extreme events considering climate change. This memo stressed that “consideration of extreme events, their impacts on highways and transportation systems, and development of adaptation strategies should be grounded in the best available scientific approaches.” Adaptation activities need to be based on the current understanding of weather patterns affecting the location of a project or region, as well as projected changes in climate.

Thus, there is a need for technical guidance in assessing the exposure and vulnerability of highway infrastructure in the coastal environment that will be impacted by extreme events including considerations of the effects of climate change. This publication is intended to be technical guidance grounded in the “best available scientific approaches” to vulnerability and risk assessment and climate change.

The Scientific Consensus on Climate Change as a Gateway Belief: Experimental Evidence

March 12, 2015 Comments off

The Scientific Consensus on Climate Change as a Gateway Belief: Experimental Evidence
Source: PLoS ONE

There is currently widespread public misunderstanding about the degree of scientific consensus on human-caused climate change, both in the US as well as internationally. Moreover, previous research has identified important associations between public perceptions of the scientific consensus, belief in climate change and support for climate policy. This paper extends this line of research by advancing and providing experimental evidence for a “gateway belief model” (GBM). Using national data (N = 1104) from a consensus-message experiment, we find that increasing public perceptions of the scientific consensus is significantly and causally associated with an increase in the belief that climate change is happening, human-caused and a worrisome threat. In turn, changes in these key beliefs are predictive of increased support for public action. In short, we find that perceived scientific agreement is an important gateway belief, ultimately influencing public responses to climate change.

CPW Bushmeat Sourcebook

March 10, 2015 Comments off

CPW Bushmeat Sourcebook
Source: Food and Agricultural Organization of the United Nations (Collaborative Partnership on Wildlife)

The e-sourcebook on bushmeat provides an objective and comprehensive understanding of the global tropical bushmeat issue, by disentangling the topic into the following sections:

  • Bushmeat and conservation issues
  • Bushmeat and local livelihoods
  • Bushmeat and human health
  • Bushmeat and governance issues
  • Bushmeat and climate change
  • Bushmeat and extractive industries
  • Bushmeat and sustainable management
  • Recommendations from the Liaison Group on Bushmeat of the CBD

Each section synthesizes available global scientific knowledge, drawing attention to relevant and current references for further reading.

CRS — Climate Change Adaptation by Federal Agencies: An Analysis of Plans and Issues for Congress (February 23, 2015)

March 5, 2015 Comments off

Climate Change Adaptation by Federal Agencies: An Analysis of Plans and Issues for Congress (PDF)
Source: Congressional Research Service (via Federation of American Scientists)

This report reviews current actions (as of January 2015) of selected federal departments and agencies to adapt their own missions, infrastructure, operations, and personnel to projected climate change. (It does not address federal programs meant primarily to assist others to adapt, although the boundary is often hard to delineate.) This synthesis is not comprehensive. It identifies common approaches among agencies, examples of specific actions, and notable barriers the federal government faces.

As of December 2014, almost 40 federal departments and agencies had, to varying degrees, produced climate change adaptation plans, climate change vulnerability assessments, adaptation milestones, and/or metrics to evaluate adaptation performance. These efforts have identified wide-ranging vulnerabilities to potential climate changes, as well as some opportunities.

Implications of the Circumpolar Genetic Structure of Polar Bears for Their Conservation in a Rapidly Warming Arctic

February 25, 2015 Comments off

Implications of the Circumpolar Genetic Structure of Polar Bears for Their Conservation in a Rapidly Warming Arctic
Source: PLoS ONE

We provide an expansive analysis of polar bear (Ursus maritimus) circumpolar genetic variation during the last two decades of decline in their sea-ice habitat. We sought to evaluate whether their genetic diversity and structure have changed over this period of habitat decline, how their current genetic patterns compare with past patterns, and how genetic demography changed with ancient fluctuations in climate. Characterizing their circumpolar genetic structure using microsatellite data, we defined four clusters that largely correspond to current ecological and oceanographic factors: Eastern Polar Basin, Western Polar Basin, Canadian Archipelago and Southern Canada. We document evidence for recent (ca. last 1–3 generations) directional gene flow from Southern Canada and the Eastern Polar Basin towards the Canadian Archipelago, an area hypothesized to be a future refugium for polar bears as climate-induced habitat decline continues. Our data provide empirical evidence in support of this hypothesis. The direction of current gene flow differs from earlier patterns of gene flow in the Holocene. From analyses of mitochondrial DNA, the Canadian Archipelago cluster and the Barents Sea subpopulation within the Eastern Polar Basin cluster did not show signals of population expansion, suggesting these areas may have served also as past interglacial refugia. Mismatch analyses of mitochondrial DNA data from polar and the paraphyletic brown bear (U. arctos) uncovered offset signals in timing of population expansion between the two species, that are attributed to differential demographic responses to past climate cycling. Mitogenomic structure of polar bears was shallow and developed recently, in contrast to the multiple clades of brown bears. We found no genetic signatures of recent hybridization between the species in our large, circumpolar sample, suggesting that recently observed hybrids represent localized events. Documenting changes in subpopulation connectivity will allow polar nations to proactively adjust conservation actions to continuing decline in sea-ice habitat.

See: Polar Bears Shifting to Areas with More Sea Ice — Genetic Study Reveals (USGS)

Back to the Future: Advanced Nuclear Energy and the Battle Against Climate Change

February 10, 2015 Comments off

Back to the Future: Advanced Nuclear Energy and the Battle Against Climate Change
Source: Brookings Institution

A new Brookings Essay examines innovative nuclear reactor designs that could power the world with nuclear waste and reignite American leadership in the fight against climate change.

Tracing CO2 Emissions in Global Value Chains

February 2, 2015 Comments off

Tracing CO2 Emissions in Global Value Chains (PDF)
Source: U.S. International Trade Commission

This paper integrates two lines of research: trade in global value chains and embodied emissions into a unified conceptual framework. This allows both value-added and emissions to be systematically traced at the country, sector, and bilateral levels through various production network routes. By combining value-added and emissions accounting in a consistent way, the potential environmental cost (emission with per unit of value-added created) along Global Value Chains can be estimated. Based on this unified accounting method, we trace CO2 emission in global production and trade network among 41 economies in 35 sectors from 1995 to 2009 based on the World Input-Output Database (WIOD) database and show how they help us to better understand the impact of cross-country production sharing on the environment.


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