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charles crown
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Crown Capital Eco Management
Crown Capital Eco Management

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Flooding experts say Britain will have to adapt to climate change – and fast | Crown Eco Management

source: http://blog.crowncapitalmngt.com/flooding-experts-say-britain-will-have-to-adapt-to-climate-change-and-fast/

"You are looking at retreat," says Prof Colin Thorne, a flooding expert at the University of Nottingham. "It is the only sensible policy – it makes no sense to defend the indefensible." This assessment of how the UK will have to adapt to its increasing flood risk is stark, but is shared by virtually all those who work on the issue.Centuries of draining wetlands, reclaiming salt marshes and walling in rivers is being put into reverse by climate change, which is bringing fiercer storms, more intense downpours and is pushing up sea levels. Sea walls are now being deliberately allowed to be breached, with new defences built further back, and fields turned into lakes to slow the rush of the water, as flood management turns back towards natural methods.Thorne says the strategy of once more "making space for water" has been around for a decade, but the urgency of implementing it has increased sharply. "We thought then we were talking about the 2030s, but it is all happening a heck of a lot quicker."

Large parts of southern England had their wettest January ever recorded, the Met Office announced on Thursday, and the Somerset Levels, much of which is below sea level, have been inundated for weeks. "I have enormous sympathy for these people," says Thorne. But he thinks the 1,000-year history of keeping the sea out of the area is coming to the end. "Can the Somerset Levels be defended between now and the end of the century? No," he says.

Hannah Cloke, a flooding expert at the University of Reading, agrees: "We could make the choice to protect the Levels forever, but that is going to take a lot of resources. My gut feeling is that you are going to have to let that be a marshland in the end. But people live there and have their livelihoods there, so it is very tricky." Cloke says greatest priority across the country is giving people the help they need to adjust to more frequent floods, from warnings and emergency planning down to home-level protection, such as water-absorbing green roofs and porous paving stones. She points to a small but growing trend of riverbank homes being raised on stilts.

"We have to realise we cannot defend at all costs. We have to adapt to climate change," says Professor Rob Duck, a coastal expert at the University of Dundee, noting that Hull, Norfolk, Suffolk, Essex, Sussex and the Wirral are places at risk. "Building higher and higher walls is not the answer." Big flood defences often just shift the problem elsewhere, he says, or cause an even greater catastrophe when they eventually breach.

Ola Holmstrom, UK head of water at consultancy firm WSP, says the hard choices must be taken soon: "Unfortunately increasing urbanisation and climate change means the question of flood risk management is not going to go away. Someone will need to make some tough decisions, and for the benefit of those currently flooded and those whose livelihood depends on the land, it would be best if this happens sooner than later."

Government-funded landscape experiments in Somerset and Yorkshire are demonstrating that blocking upland drainage channels, replanting trees next to rivers and deliberately flooding fields can protect downstream homes by slowing the flow of water, which stops waters rising fast and reduces the silting up of channels.

"In the UK, going back to nature is the right way to go: it works," says Cloke. "We have tried the engineering solution and the cost of maintaining that is very high and we just don't have the money to maintain these standards." The government's annual funding for flood defences is falling by 15% in real terms under the coalition, while the risk of flooding is rising and is the greatest impact of climate change, according to government scientists.

Making more use of land to hold back flood water will have the greatest impact on farmers, who manage two-thirds of the UK's land. Paul Cottington, south-west environment adviser for the National Farmers' Union, says: "The land has been modified for centuries and there's a reason for that: we have very good productive farmland." He says every 100 hectares of land can feed 400 people, and that some farmers are already working in uplands to help alleviate flooding. But, Cottington says, farmers could provide flood relief with their land, if paid for that service with long-term agreements, and he points to an existing scheme in Kent that protects Tonbridge in this way. Thorne says bluntly that such changes to farmland are inevitable: "Get used to it, guys."

On the future of the Levels, Cottington says: "In the long term, the Levels can be whatever they need to be. They are what they are through human effort but what they become should be decided by the people who live and work there."

Despite the consensus that more coastal and flood plain land will have to be used to make space for water, the experts are also clear that major concrete defences will still be needed in urban areas. Alastair Chisholm, policy manager at the Chartered Institution of Water and Environmental Management, says: "We need to recognise the real value of protecting large, low-lying communities and economically important land. The idea of moving large communities, like flood-prone Hull for example, is a very difficult to contemplate. In the Netherlands, they know that ultimately they have little option but to defend and hold the line at significant cost." He says accepting the big price tag that has to be paid – increased flood defence spending on towns – may in the end be most socially acceptable course in built-up areas.

However, outside major towns and cities, the Environment Agency has long accepted that retreat is inevitable, stating in 2008: "We are not going to be able to hold the line everywhere for ever."

Thorne agrees: "You are going to lose the battle one dark night and it will be brutal. I think we can be more civilised than that and plan ahead. We need to [beware of] hubris and know that if we fight nature, we will lose in the end."

 

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Watch 60 Years Of Climate Change In 15 Seconds

http://blog.crowncapitalmngt.com/watch-60-years-of-climate-change-in-15-seconds/

According to NASA, 2013 was tied (with 2009 and 2006) for seventh warmest year globally on record, dating back to 1880. NASA scientists have played a leading role in climate research in recent decades and the agency’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies (GISS) this month updated a report analyzing worldwide surface temperatures.
“Long-term trends in surface temperatures are unusual and 2013 adds to the evidence for ongoing climate change,” GISS climatologist Gavin Schmidt said. “While one year or one season can be affected by random weather events, this analysis shows the necessity for continued, long-term monitoring.”

The NASA data finds that with the exception of 1998, the 10 warmest years in the 134-year record have all come since the latest turn of the century, with 2010 and 2005 ranking as the warmest years on record.

 

Climate Change NASA
Global average temperatures for 2013 (Credit: NASA)
 

To drive the point home, GISS created the below animation that shows the increase in temperatures worldwide over the past 60 years, compiled from data collected by over 1,000 meteorological stations around the globe.

A release from NASA makes the case that the increase in temperatures over the long-term is more a social problem than a matter of eons-long natural climate patterns:

Driven by increasing man-made emissions, the level of carbon dioxide in Earth’s atmosphere presently is higher than at any time in the last 800,000 years.

This summer, NASA plans to launch the Orbiting Carbon Observatory with the goal of studying both natural and manmade sources of carbon dioxide, one of the gases believed to be largely to blame for climate change.

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Leading Scientists Explain How Climate Change Is Worsening California’s Epic Drought

Scientists have long predicted that climate change would bring on ever-worsening droughts, especially in semi-arid regions like the U.S. Southwest. As climatologist James Hansen, who co-authored one of the earliest studies on this subject back in 1990, told me this week, “Increasingly intense droughts in California, all of the Southwest, and even into the Midwest have everything to do with human-made climate change.”
Why does it matter if climate change is playing a role in the Western drought? As one top researcher on the climate-drought link reconfirmed with me this week, “The U.S. may never again return to the relatively wet conditions experienced from 1977 to 1999.” If his and other projections are correct, then there may be no greater tasks facing humanity than 1) working to slash carbon pollution and avoid the worst climate impact scenarios and 2) figuring out how to feed nine billion people by mid-century in a Dust-Bowl-ifying world.
Remarkably, climate scientists specifically predicted a decade ago that Arctic ice loss would bring on worse droughts in the West, especially California. As it turns out, Arctic ice loss has been much faster than the researchers — and indeed all climate modelers — expected.
And, of course, California is now in the death-grip of a brutal, record-breaking drought, driven by the very change in the jet stream that scientists had anticipated. Is this just an amazing coincidence — or were the scientists right? And what would that mean for the future? Building on my post from last summer, I talked to the lead researcher and several other of the world’s leading climatologists and drought experts.

http://blog.crowncapitalmngt.com/leading-scientists-explain-how-climate-change-is-worsening-californias-epic-drought/

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Climate change is happening 10 times faster than ever | Crown Eco Management

http://blog.crowncapitalmngt.com/climate-change-is-happening-10-times-faster-than-ever/


The current pace of global warming is unmatched in the past 65 million years 


Stanford University recently published a report in the journal Science pointing  but the extent to which the climate change rate — so much heat absorbed in very little time —is overtaking any other eras of warming or cooling in the Earth’s 65 million years history. If present estimates are precise, the researchers state, that pace will speed up to 50 or even 100 times quicker than anything we have observed in the past.

 

Scientific American explains:

They observed climate occurrences or primary transitions that have transpired on Earth from the time of the dinosaurs’ extinction. Those include the time when the Earth came out of an ice age. Temperatures then went up between 3 and 5 degrees Celsius, similar to the amount scientists predict is possible with the prevailing climate change. But that change occurred within about 20,000 years, the scientists pointed out, and not mere decades as it is now the case.

 

Another study conducted by University of Texas and put out in the journal Nature, has discovered that the Antarctic permafrost is also melting at a rate 10 times faster compared to anything measured previously, that is, in the last 11,000 years. The scientists explain that the dramatic shift is not due to higher temperatures but to altering weather patterns in which the region is experiencing more sunlight than before. The researchers of the Antarctic case are not overly worried at their findings, explaining that for the Arctic polar ice to melt at this rate would be much more problematic.

 

The findings of the Stanford study are not as hopeful. To keep up with the present rate of global warming, says study author Christopher Field, we have to begin adjusting accordingly on a significantly faster timetable. The chances of reducing its effects now, in his calculation, is not so bright:

 

To keep the temperature rise to about 1.5 degrees, the Earth would have to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions to zero by 2050, and then attain negative emissions, that is, “the total amount of all human activities is a net elimination of CO2 from the atmosphere,” the study says. If we achieve that, climate changes by the final years of the century will not be as disastrous, Field said.

 

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