Abstracts on Global Climate Change
       

Dec 2005

Global assessment of coral bleaching and required rates of adaptation under climate change

Donner, SD Skirving, WJ Little, CM Oppenheimer, M Hoegh-Guldberg, O

GLOBAL CHANGE BIOLOGY 11:12 2251-2265

Elevated ocean temperatures can cause coral bleaching, the loss of colour from reef-building corals because of a breakdown of the symbiosis with the dinoflagellate Symbiodinium. Recent studies have warned that global climate change could increase the frequency of coral bleaching and threaten the long-term viability of coral reefs. These assertions are based on projecting the coarse output from atmosphere-ocean general circulation models (GCMs) to the local conditions around representative coral reefs. Here, we conduct the first comprehensive global assessment of coral bleaching under climate change by adapting the NOAA Coral Reef Watch bleaching prediction method to the output of a low- and high-climate sensitivity GCM. First, we develop and test algorithms for predicting mass coral bleaching with GCM-resolution sea surface temperatures for thousands of coral reefs, using a global coral reef map and 1985-2002 bleaching prediction data. We then use the algorithms to determine the frequency of coral bleaching and required thermal adaptation by corals and their endosymbionts under two different emissions scenarios. The results indicate that bleaching could become an annual or biannual event for the vast majority of the world’s coral reefs in the next 30-50 years without an increase in thermal tolerance of 0.2-1.0 degrees C per decade. The geographic variability in required thermal adaptation found in each model and emissions scenario suggests that coral reefs in some regions, like Micronesia and western Polynesia, may be particularly vulnerable to climate change. Advances in modelling and monitoring will refine the forecast for individual reefs, but this assessment concludes that the global prognosis is unlikely to change without an accelerated effort to stabilize atmospheric greenhouse gas concentrations.

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Consortium for Atlantic Regional Assessment: Information tools for community adaptation to changes in climate or land use

Dempsey, R Fisher, A

RISK ANALYSIS 25:6 1495-1509

To inform local and regional decisions about protecting short-term and long-term quality of life, the Consortium for Atlantic Regional Assessment (CARA) provides data and tools (for the northeastern United States) that can help decisionmakers understand how outcomes of their decisions could be affected by potential changes in both climate and land use. On an interactive, user-friendly website, CARA has amassed data on climate (historical records and future projections for seven global climate models), land cover, and socioeconomic and environmental variables, along with tools to help decisionmakers tailor the data for their own decision types and locations. CARA Advisory Council stakeholders help identify what information and tools stakeholders would find most useful and how to present these: they also provide in-depth feedback for subregion case studies. General lessons include: (1) decisionmakers want detailed local projections for periods short enough to account for extreme events, in contrast to the broader spatial and temporal observations and projections that are available or consistent at a regional level; (2) stakeholders will not use such a website unless it is visually appealing and easy to find the information they want; (3) some stakeholders need background while others want to go immediately to data, and some want maps while others want text or tables. This article also compares what has been learned across case studies of Cape May County, New Jersey, Cape Cod, Massachusetts, and Hampton Roads, Virginia, relating specifically to sea-level rise. Lessons include: (1) groups can be affected differently by physical dangers compared with economic dangers; (2) decisions will differ according to decision makers’ preferences about waiting and risk tolerance; (3) future scenarios and maps can help assess the impacts of dangers to emergency evacuation routes, homes, and infrastructure, and the natural environment; (4) residents’ and decisionmakers’ perceptions are affected by information about potential local impacts from global climate change.

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Fossil fuels in the 21st century

Lincoln, SF

AMBIO 34:8 621-627

An overview of the importance of fossil fuels in supplying the energy requirements of the 21st century, their future supply, and the impact of their use on global climate is presented. Current and potential alternative energy sources are considered. It is concluded that even with substantial increases in energy derived from other sources, fossil fuels will remain a major energy source for much Of the 21st century and the sequestration of CO2 will be an increasingly important requirement.

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Analysing countries’ contribution to climate change: scientific and policy-related choices

den Elzen, M Fuglestvedt, J Hohne, N Trudinger, C Lowe, J Matthews, B Romstad, B de Campos, CP Andronova, N

ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCE & POLICY 8:6 614-636

This paper evaluates the influence of different policy-related and scientific choices on the calculated regional contributions to global climate change (the “Brazilian Proposal”). Policy-related choices include the time period of emissions, the mix of greenhouse gases and different indicators of climate change impacts. The scientific choices include historical emissions and model representations of the climate system. We generated and compared results of several simple climate models. We find that the relative contributions of different nations to global climate change-from emissions of greenhouse gases alone-are quite robust, despite the varying model complexity and differences in calculated absolute changes. For the default calculations, the average calculated contributions to the global mean surface temperature increase in 2000 are about 40% from OECD, 14% from Eastern Europe and Former Soviet Union, 24% from Asia and 22% from Africa and Latin America. Policy-related choices, such as time period of emissions, climate change indicator and gas mix generally have larger influence on the results than scientific choices. More specifically, choosing a later attribution start date (1990 instead of 1890) for historical emissions, decreases the contributions of regions that started emitting early, such as the OECD countries by 6 percentage points, whereas it increases the contribution of late emitters such as Asia by 8 percentage points. However, only including the fossil CO, emissions instead of the emissions of all Kyoto gases (fossil and land use change), increases the OECD contributions by 21 percentage points and decreases the contribution of Asia by 14 percentage points. (c) 2005 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

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