Saturday, May 02, 2009

Sea Level Rise Design Competition

Posted by David Tulloch at Friday, May 01, 2009

This is an interesting opportunity that I especially encourage the Sophomores in Landscape Architecture to follow (hint: your Fall might resemble this). What sort of design interventions are appropriate in responding to sea level rise.

An International Competition for Ideas Responding to Sea Level Rise in San Francisco Bay and Beyond
The San Francisco Bay Conservation and Development Commission (BCDC) is hosting an open international design competition for ideas responding to sea level rise in San Francisco Bay and beyond.
Nearly every day, we learn more about sea level rise – one of the most critical impacts of global warming. Individually and collectively, people are seeking solutions to this climate challenge. The issue of sea level rise is clearly of global importance, and both simple and complex design interventions will be needed to sustain quality of life, preserve the environment and ensure continued economic vitality of shoreline communities throughout the world. Challenges include:
• Rethinking how to build new communities in areas susceptible to future inundation
• Retrofitting valuable public shoreline infrastructure
• Protecting existing communities from flooding
• Protecting wetlands
• Anticipating changing shoreline configurations
At the intersection of rising seas and our coastal human settlements, your ideas are needed. The Rising Tides ideas competition is open to everyone. All are encouraged to bring forward their vision of a future estuarine shoreline that is applicable to San Francisco Bay and beyond.

Thursday, April 30, 2009

Sea Level Rise threatens Indonesia

RI has no vulnerability index of small islands on climate change

Adianto P. SimamoraThe Jakarta Post ,  Jakarta   |  Thu, 04/30/2009 4:26 PM  |  National

The government admitted that the country has yet to make a map determining vulnerability index of small islands against sea level rise due to the human-induced climate change.
The ministry of marine and fishery affairs said that the office has so far gave names of 13,366 islands out of about 17,500 across the country.
“We just start mapping vulnerability index of North Jakarta offshore of Thousand Island,” the ministry’s director of small island empowerment Alex SW Retraubun told a seminar on ocean and climate change at the University of Indonesia.
“We will apply index at the Thousand Island to map the vulnerability of all small islands against the sea level rise in the country. Hopefully, we can finish it this year.”
The 2007 law on small island management says a small island has less than 2,000 kilometers square of width.
A study from the Asian Development Bank (ADB) found that hundreds of small islands in Indonesia were under serious threat due to the sea level rise.
The ADB predicted that the annual temperature was projected to increase by 4.8 degree Celsius by 2100 compared to 1990. This could turn to a 70 centimeter rise in sea levels over the same period.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Sea level rise results in significant loss of marine recreational shore fishing value

April 13, 2009

From: Climate Changes Blog

Measuring the Impacts of Sea Level Rise on Marine Recreational Shore Fishing in North Carolina

by John C. Whitehead, Ben Poulter, Christopher F. Dumas and Okmyung Bin
- We develop estimates of the economic effects of sea level rise on marine recreational shore fishing in North Carolina. We estimate the relationship between angler behavior and spatial differences in beach width using the Marine Recreational Fishing Statistics Survey and geospatial data. We exploit the empirical relationship between beach width and site choice by simulating the effects of (1) sea level rise on beach width and (2) beach width on angler site choice. We find that the welfare losses are potentially substantial, ranging up to a present value of $1.26 billion over 75 years.
Whitehead, J.C., B. Poulter, C.F. Dumas and O. Bin (2009). "Measuring the Impacts of Sea Level Rise on Marine Recreational Shore Fishing in North Carolina." Working Papers from Department of Economics, No 08-09, Appalachian State University, May 2008.

What is the true cost of Sea Level Rise?

Clash over ecological economics

By Pallab Ghosh
Science correspondent, BBC News

Melting ice, AP

More governments are building the cost of climate change in to policy decisions

Warnings are being sounded about the way government is preparing for the cost of climate change.

The government's former chief scientific advisor, Professor Sir David King has told BBC News that he believes that the government is being misled by economic assessments of the impact of climate change such as those drawn up by Lord Stern in his review for the Treasury published in 2006.

Prof King believes that such models are underestimating the true cost of tackling the problem and leading to poor investments by businesses and governments.

Many governments including the UK now include an environmental cost benefit in policy making. That cost benefit uses estimates made by economic models, such as those developed by Lord Stern and his team for the Treasury.

Professor King, who is now director of the Smith School of Enterprise and the Environment at the University of Oxford and an advisor to UBS has said that he "questions the value of these simple models" saying that they are "misleading".

"Economic models such as those produced by Nick Stern are often based on steady growth," he said.

"But they are not very good at predicting the impact of catastrophic events," he added. "It's likely that because of Sea level rise and changes in rainfall patterns people will have to migrate. "That has the potential for massive conflict and massive geopolitical destabilisation and that can lead to a sudden downturn in the global economy".

Cost questions

Professor King argues that economic models are not fully able to account for such upheaval. This raises questions about how economists can put an accurate price on producing a tonne of carbon dioxide.

He also said that these models do not properly cost the environmental impact of large infrastructure projects. The decision to give the go-ahead to build four new coal-fired power stations with experimental carbon capture technology and a third runway for Heathrow airport in London are examples of projects that could not have been properly assessed by economic modelling, he said.

Aerial view of Heathrow, PA

Models may not capture all the cost of big projects

Dr Simon Dietz, deputy director of the Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change and the Environment and a member of the former Stern Review team, said: "Economic models of the impact of climate change, like scientific models of climate change, have both strengths and limitations.

"Modelling was used very carefully in the Stern Review and the uncertainties and limitations of the results were fully explained in the report," he said. "The models used in the Review had advantages over other economic models which tend to underestimate the potentially severe impacts of climate change.

"It is now two and a half years since the Stern Review was published, and further evidence on climate change has become available," he added. "As Nicholas Stern has highlighted, it has become apparent that the risks and potential costs of the impacts of climate change are even greater than we originally recognised," he said. "Future modelling will take that into account.

"We know that the Government is continuing to use modelling to help formulate its policies on climate change. When the models are used correctly, with good data, they can produce information to make better-informed decisions, but they are not the only sources of information that are taken into account."

Monday, April 27, 2009

Caribbean Islands being washed away!

From: Trinidad & Tobago Express

Troubling concern

Sunday, April 26th 2009

Prof Bhawan Singh agreed with much of what Chu had to say but thought his comments of the Caribbean islands being washed away "somewhat strong".

But he pointed to a troubling finding:

Sea-level rise in the Gulf of Paria appeared to be happening faster than the global average, which indicated that the land was sinking.

Of Chu's summit statement, Singh said:

"The latest (2007) IPCC Report does substantiate his claim of a two-to-four-degree-Celsius rise of global, near-surface temperatures by the end of this century, depending on which forcing of the climate system is used, namely, based on the rate of increase of greenhouse gases globally.

"The link between climate change/global warming and sea-level rise resides in the thermal expansion of oceanic water, the melting of sub-polar ice fields in mountainous areas such as the Andes and the Himalayas and the melting of the polar ice caps in Greenland and Antarctica.

"As an indication of the potential contributions of the polar ice caps to sea-level rise, if the Antarctic ice cap were to melt completely, it would have the potential to raise sea levels by over 60 metres while the Greenland ice cap would have the potential to raise sea levels by close to seven metres.

"But this is not expected to happen by the end of this century.

"Again, using the 2007 IPCC Report as a basis, using a moderate forcing of the climate system, global sea levels are expected to rise by a range of about 0.2 to 0.5 metres by the end of this century. But recent studies claim that these estimates are conservative since the climate/sea-level models inadequately simulate the contribution of land-based ice to sea-level rise. "As for instance, recent satellite and field studies indicate that the Wilkins ice shelf, the size of Connecticut (USA), in Antarctica is carving rapidly and could very soon dislodge itself into the ocean.

"Sea-level changes, especially as driven by the polar ice caps, evolve very slowly...based on proxy records, the last time that the poles were free of permanent ice fields occurred over 200 million years ago.

Furthermore, global sea level rose by 120 metres during several millennia that followed the end of the last glacial period, about 21,000 years ago. But these fluctuations in global sea levels were largely controlled by natural forcings.

"The problem we are facing today is the accelerated rise in global temperatures and sea levels as driven by human activities and the enhanced greenhouse effect since about the mid-18th century.

"For instance, again using IPCC (2007) estimates, global sea levels rose at a rate of about 1.1 mm/year over the period 1961-2003. But if one were to use the more recent period of 1993-2003, the rate goes up to about 2.8 mm/year, clearly an indication of acceleration.

"Also, sea-level changes are expected to vary regionally, based on ocean temperature and salinity changes and oceanic circulation shifts and land movements.

"Based on tide-gauge data we have for the mid-eighties to 2000 for the Gulf of Paria, the rate of sea-level rise is about two to four mm/year, much higher than the global average, and as we demonstrated previously, this may be attributed in large measure to land subsidence.

"And although Trinidad may lie outside the active hurricane belt, it could be subject to storm surges caused by active storm systems in the region, leading to extreme sea levels as occurred recently at Mosquito Creek".

Singh said Chu's claim of Caribbean islands being washed off the map over the next century is somewhat strong, in that "these assessments have been made in reference to low-lying atolls/islands in the Pacific."

On the issue of Trinidad and Tobago's contribution to global greenhouse gas emissions, Singh said the First National Communication to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) showed that Trinidad and Tobago was one of the highest emitters of greenhouse gases on a per capita basis.

"Based on the accelerated rate of industrialisation and the explosion of vehicular traffic, this situation may have exacerbated", he said.