With climate change, think globally but adapt locally

While I was away on holiday vacation, Michael Harte, director of OSU’s Marine Resources Management program, delivered an interesting talk at the American Geophysical Union about scaling down climate change work to the local-level. Here are a couple of snippets:

“As researchers, we need to better tailor our science and advice to the needs of our local communities,” said Michael Harte, a professor and Extension specialist in the College of Oceanic and Atmospheric Sciences at Oregon State University. “Climate change is a global issue, but the specific impacts – and strategies to cope with them – will be local and that’s where our help is urgently needed.”

“People living on the coast want to know how great coastal erosion will be if predictions of higher sea levels, stronger winds, and more intense storms are true,” Harte pointed out. “Fishermen want to know if they should continue to fish for salmon, or switch to sardines. In inland communities, water is the main issue. Farmers want to know if drought is a more distinct possibility and whether they should invest in more expensive, but less wasteful irrigation systems.

“This is the level at which climate change is real to people,” Harte added. “It’s where it strikes them in everyday life.”

You can read OSU’s full press-release on his talk by going here.

Along with some other colleagues, Michael and I hope to work together on some North Coast specific research and extension related to local adaptation to a changing climate. I’ve already alluded to this theme in my November 16th posting here.

7 meter flood map of Tillamook courtesy of Googlemaps

On another climate change note: Michael Furniss of the Watershed Management Council posted a fascinating use of Google Maps to illustrate the degree of inundation from sea-level rise. The map I am linking to here is pointed to Tillamook and Nehalem bays. You can then add or subtract the meters of sea level rise from 0-14. Keep in mind that while this can be an interesting if not alarming exercise, the amount of expansion in the oceans due to climate change is not entirely clear yet. Rather, think of these as potential scenarios (i.e., dependent upon levels of ocean heating, melting of significant icepack in Greenland or Antarctica) that could play out over indeterminant periods of time.

At the extreme end with sea-level rise of 14 meters, by the way, the entire valley of Tillamook looks rather wet as does all of that now valuable real estate in South Florida, Brooklyn, and other prominent coastal regions.


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