Adapting to a Changing Climate: Challenges & Opportunities Adapting to a Changing Climate:...

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Adapting to a Changing Adapting to a Changing Climate: Climate: Challenges & Challenges & Opportunities Opportunities Glen Gerberg Weather and Climate Summit January 12, 2012 Breckenridge, CO Eileen L. Shea Chief, Climate Services & Monitoring Div., NOAA/NCDC

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  • Interagency Climate Change Adaptation Task Force



    Mitigation and adaptation are both essential parts of a climate change response strategy. No matter how aggressively heat-trapping emissions are reduced, the world will continue to experience some continued climate change and resulting impacts.Prudent risk management demands advanced planning

    Adaptation as Response OptionClimate Changenot the only challengeto be juggled (Dr. Lynne Carter)

  • We can anticipate, plan, act be proactiveor we can remain reactive.Some photos: courtesy Joel Scheraga, EPA


    So, What is Adaptation?Measures to improve our ability to cope with or avoid harmful impacts and take advantage of beneficial ones, now and in the future (Global Climate Change Impacts in the U.S., 2009)Preparing for the impacts of projected local and regional impacts before they occur (Americas Climate Choices, 2011)Iterative risk managementby increasing the Nations resilience to both gradual changes and the possibility of abrupt disaster events(Americas Climate Choices, 2011)*

    Interagency Climate Change Adaptation Task Force

    What Is Adaptation?Responsible risk management

    Actions that reduce vulnerability & enhance preparedness for climate & extreme weather-related impacts

    Common-sense planning to protect our health, safety & prosperity

    *Deer Island Sewage TreatmentPlant, Boston

    Interagency Climate Change Adaptation Task Force

    Federal Action to Build Climate ResilienceCore Federal Policy Goals for Climate Change AdaptationBuild resilience to climate change in communities.Make science more accessible to communities and decision-makers.Integrate climate risk management into Federal agency planning.Develop strategies to safeguard natural resources.Enhance efforts to lead and support international climate adaptation*


    Protect: build hard structures-levees and dikesAccommodate: elevate roads, buildings, and facilities; improve flood control structure design; enhance wetlands (Deer Island)Retreat: accommodate inland movement through planned retreat

    From: USGCRP, 2009

    Adaptation Example: Responding to Sea-Level Rise and Storm SurgeCourtesy of Jack Pellette, NWS

    *Global Climate Change Impacts in the United States*

    Declining water resourcesIncrease public awarenessEncourage water conservationFix water distribution systems to minimize leakageIncrease freshwater storage capacityExplore alternative sources including importing water, desalinating seawater, and using treated wastewater

    Unmanaged ecosystemsEstablish baselines for ecosystems and their servicesIdentify thresholdsMonitor for continued changeRestore ecosystems that have been adversely affectedIdentify refuge areas that might be unaffected by climate change and can be preservedRelocate species to areas where favorable conditions are expected to exist in the future

    Adaptation Muskie


    In the islands, water is gold.

    Effective adaptation to climate-related changes in the availability of freshwater is thus a high priority and can help reduce damage even if island communities cannot completely counter climate-related threats to water supplies.Adaptation: Securing Water Resources*


    Communities, Businesses and Governments All Have:Much to lose from adverse climate impactsMuch to gain from opportunities Limited resources and tight budgetsRelevant authorities and planning structures Opportunity to learn from and work with others

  • Some Lessons Being LearnedNo (single) top 10 Adaptation ActionsAdaptations are location and issue specific:Impacts differ from place-to-place and adaptive capacity is unevenUnderstand regional context (culture, history, demographics, economics, natural resources)Address todays challenges while planning for the future:Variability, Extremes and long-term trendsCollaborative, public-private partnership


    Some Lessons Being LearnedClimate in Context:Decisions rarely only because of changing climateThink of the Climate-Society System (Glantz)Trusted information brokers are key:Broadcast meteorologists, community leaders, businesses, local experts, educators, NGOs, etc.Leverage existing institutions & relationshipsChanging Climate - a moving target:Requires an iterative risk management processShared learning & joint problem-solving*



  • Some Resources at your disposal:[email protected]



    *Human-induced climate change is a reality. Not only in the remote polar regions or for small islands in distant oceans, but here in our own backyards. Climate change is not just a problem for the future. Its happening now, and were beginning to see its effects on our lives. Humans are responsible, and our actions will determine the extent of future climate change and the severity of its impacts. Its not too late. Decisions made now will determine whether we get big changes or smaller ones. Substantially cutting heat-trapping emissions will result in less climate change and smaller impacts. Earlier cuts in emissions would have a greater effect than cuts made later.

    A key finding of this report is that climate change is happening NOW. Were already observing changes in many aspects of climate. And weve documented these changes. This briefing will guide you through some of the kinds of climate changes and resulting impacts were seeing in the United States, and whats in store for our future.

    **Bostons Deer Island sewage treatment plant was built 1.9 feet higher than it would have been otherwise to account for future sea-level rise.

    The planners assessed what could be easily and inexpensively changed later, versus those things that would be more difficult and expensive to change later. Thus, they decided to increase the plants height, but not to build protective barriers at this time*Protect: (increases future risks by destroying wetlands, creates a false sense of security causes more development)Retreat: require setbacks based on erosion rates; no armoring; small structures; clear expectations for development; rolling easementsMuch to lose from climate impacts: slr, storms, water issues, health impacts, forest fires, etc.Limited resources and tight budgets: competition Much to gain from opportunities: economic dev., energy savings, avoided costsRelevant authorities and planning structures: Communities: blgd and dev permits, building codes, locating infrastructure Businesses: long-term plans, reg. maintenance/upgrade schedules, location choices (expansion or new facilities)