Presentation on theme: "Implications of going “Beyond” Climate Science Eric J. Barron National Center for Atmospheric Research March 26, 2009."— Presentation transcript:
Implications of going “Beyond” Climate Science Eric J. Barron National Center for Atmospheric Research March 26, 2009
A Few Statements A large human population striving for a higher standard of living = impact from our land use, energy use, and waste products Because human impact is global, the notion of “refugia” (protected areas) will be very difficult to sustain – instead we are on a path of “Earth management” - moving rapidly from a “refugia” approach to one of “all places managed” (our decisions will impact all places) U.N.
A Few Statements Our response to change will include a combination of adaptation (adjusting to change) and mitigation (actively working to prevent change) – but we don’t know the “balance” that is needed or workable Without a deliberate approach to environmental intelligence we will be ineffective or at least hit and miss in our decisions. Alaska Coastal Village Commission
A Few More Statements We need a rational approach: simultaneously protect life and property, promote economic vitality, and be good stewards of the environment We know that we have a problem, and neither the robust philosophical underpinnings (what is a “safe” amount of climate change) nor the Earth management sciences are in place. The prospects of climate change forces us to confront the importance of each of these statements
Yet, ready or not, we are about to jump beyond climate science The Science is settled Focus on mitigation strategies The investment in climate sciences is enough to make the decisions we need to make My view – big mistake to think this way: 5 major areas that we need to address
(1) We need a true Climate Services function to enable effective response “Services” function if : –Significant linkages exist between climate and human endeavors –Characterization of uncertainties is deliberate –Access to authoritative, credible and useful information is a key part of the service function –Users and providers recognize each others needs and limitations –Users are capable of responding to useful information
An Evolving Status - Climate Service Write only memory Over the transom Directed tosses over the transom Product design and assessment User-provider partnership
Climate Services Needs Based on what data and authority will we move the Alaska coastal village (and to where) that is subject to winter wave energy as sea ice disappears? Should the Forest Service replant pine trees (destroyed by pine bark beetle infestation), plant a resistant species, plant a new species, or do nothing? What authoritative voice will be utilized to renegotiate the Colorado River compact? Whose data or model output will be used to decide the management balance between preservation, hydro power and the salmon industry in Washington river systems and then have it survive the first legal challenge?
(2) We need to deliberately expand the family of forecasting elements Our ability to anticipate is what makes knowledge powerful to society Protect Life and Property Promote Economic Vitality Improve Environmental Stewardship Promote Fundamental Understanding Bring the discipline of forecasting to a wider family of products
A Natural Expansion is Occurring Weather Severe events Pollen UV alerts Pollution alerts El Nino The discipline of forecasting – the strength of the weather and climate communities – has potential as a tremendous contribution
An Example Human Health –Clear tie to weather and climate Distribution and timing of vectors, “over-wintering” (e.g. mosquitoes), incubation periods, availability of hosts, food availability for hosts, contact with human populations, etc. Heat waves, air pollution, etc. –Medical response tends to be “point of service” – reacts to incoming cases (almost no discipline of forecasting) –Therefore, real potential if we can design monitoring algorithms or predictive capability
Potential to Forecast – PA county correlation between Lyme Disease cases and warm days in fall from the prior year (also correlates with fall snow cover in the prior year)
(3) We must invest seriously in the stage 2 sciences Always the groomsmen and never the groom –Human dimensions of global change –So-called impact and assessment sciences We are either focused entirely on reducing uncertainties in climate prediction or focused on a call to action to respond to the dangers of climate change Much of the science in between is inadequate The coupling of the physical sciences, human dimensions and impact sciences is rarely co-located in institutions or funding agencies My bet: We will have demonstrable failures with the potential to create stalling points for a decade(s)
Simulated Biomes Evergreen forests simulated Observations: Tundra and permafrost Southern Grasslands well simulated Tundra simulated 30,000 years ago Models tied closely to modern data may be significantly flawed
50 years of intensive climate model development is being coupled to what amounts to a cottage industry of ecosystem modelers, environment and human health modelers, etc….. (even worse for considering multiple stresses)
(4) We need to deliberately tackle the issue of scale and the demand for an integrated approach Failure of “cause and effect” approaches Recognition of role of “multiple stresses” in every environment (land use/character, waste products, climate and weather) The impacts and decisions are frequently “place- based” but the drivers of change combine factors that range from global to local
Increase our emphasis on Regional Scales Mismatch of scales - problems are often regional or local while our observing and modeling efforts tend to be focused on increasing complexity (difficult to manage) at global scales Currently incapable of putting a global integrated picture together at a scale suitable for most decision-makers Nothing demonstrates this more clearly than water and water resources
Example: The Hurricane and Climate Change Argument
Invest in A More Realistic Approach Create an integrated approach at a tractable scale – a region or a state(s) defined by a set of problems Climate-quality mesonets and regional climate models Build toward a national and global framework based on advances at a regional scale Success creates a data and model “pull”
(5) We need to evolve from independent climate services & modeling efforts to Environmental “Intelligence” Centers Imagine –A cohesive regional observation framework –A data management and access system that places all information at your finger tips –Framework for regional “predictive” model development expanding the forecasting family –Investment in human dimensions and impact sciences (water, health, ecosystems) – partnership with and among the physical sciences –Framework for directed process studies –Vigorous connections with users and decision- makers
What does this mean for observing? The extraordinary challenge of “mesonets” for regional decisions and science with the requirement for global observations and analysis The central role of atmospheric and oceanic observing with the extraordinary challenge of integrating observations across many disciplines in a meaningful way and making that information accessible Cost-effective, climate-suitable, dense observing Science of observing system design with a much broader focus on data assimilation
Commentary We seem to move between two frameworks –We don’t know enough and we need to better tackle uncertainties before we take action –We know enough, it is time to focus on action Better –We know enough to take many actions (the problem is serious), we have a long way to go before we have confidence in our ability to “manage” the Earth (read – make decisions that impact every place)
We need a new “movement” – climate change you can believe in – Rational Environmentalism –You cannot have a large human population without large impact –Neither calling hoax nor stressing fear have a long shelf life –No one has added “nicotine” to energy and no one can deny the improvements in Pittsburgh’s air quality without harming the economy –We know that responding will include adaptation and mitigation – and we don’t know the “balance” that is needed or workable –We are on a path of “Earth management” and moving rapidly from a “refugia” approach to one of “all places managed”
We need a new “movement” – climate change you can believe in – Rational Environmentalism –Without a deliberate approach to environmental intelligence we will be ineffective or at least hit and miss. Observing system design is a critical component of this approach –Equally important, we need a more rational objective: simultaneously protect life and property, promote economic vitality and be good stewards –Bottom line: We are focused on scoring points, with us or against us, when we all really know that we have a problem, and neither the robust philosophical underpinnings nor the Earth management sciences are in place.
Opportunity The steps required to “manage the earth” (adaptation and mitigation) will be transformative The steps required to “manage the earth” (adaptation and mitigation) will be transformative
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