Relocating the Village of Newtok, Alaska due to Coastal Erosion

Location

United States
60° 56' 33.0288" N, 164° 38' 30.8976" W
US
Summary: 

Newtok is a Native Alaskan village that is being forced to relocate as the river and ocean erode its shorelines. The erosion rates have been exacerbated by thawing permafrost, declining sea ice protection, increased storm surge exposure, and warming temperatures. In 1994, Newtok was one of the first villages to consider relocating to a new, less vulnerable site. In 2003, Newtok negotiated a land exchange agreement with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and is now in the process of moving forward with plans to relocate their entire population to a new site.

Documenting Traditional Ecological Knowledge in Northwest Alaska

Location

United States
67° 43' 53.9868" N, 161° 43' 7.5" W
US
Organization: 
Summary: 

In Kotzebue, Alaska, the indigenous Qikiktagrugmiut residents developed a study to collect traditional ecological knowledge from tribal members regarding observed environmental changes from the 1950s to 2002. The results detail observed changes in weather, hunting patterns, and snow and ice characteristics; the final report, Documenting Qikiktagrugmiut knowledge of environmental change, serves as a reference point from which to measure further environmental changes and consequences of climate variability in the region.

State of the Climate in 2009

The year [2009] was characterized by a transition from a waning La Niña to a strengthening El Niño, which first developed in June. By December, SSTs were more than 2.0°C above average over large parts of the central and eastern equatorial Pacific. Eastward surface current anomalies, associated with the El Niño, were strong across the equatorial Pacific, reaching values similar to the 2002 El Niño during November and December 2009. The transition from La Niña to El Niño strongly influenced anomalies in many climate conditions, ranging from reduced Atlantic basin hurricane activity to large scale surface and tropospheric warmth.

Global average surface and lower-troposphere temperatures during the last three decades have been progressively warmer than all earlier decades, and the 2000s (2000–09) was the warmest decade in the instrumental record. This warming has been particularly apparent in the mid- and high-latitude regions of the Northern Hemisphere and includes decadal records in New Zealand, Australia, Canada, Europe, and the Arctic. The stratosphere continued a long cooling trend, except in the Arctic.

Atmospheric greenhouse gas concentrations continued to rise, with CO2 increasing at a rate above the 1978 to 2008 average. The global ocean CO2 uptake flux for 2008, the most recent year for which analyzed data are available, is estimated to have been 1.23 Pg C yr-1, which is 0.25 Pg C yr-1 smaller than the long-term average and the lowest estimated ocean uptake in the last 27 years. At the same time, the total global ocean inventory of anthropogenic carbon stored in the ocean interior as of 2008 suggests an uptake and storage of anthropogenic CO2 at rates of 2.0 and 2.3 ±0.6 Pg C yr-1 for the decades of the 1990s and 2000s, respectively. Total-column ozone concentrations are still well below pre-1980 levels but have seen a recent reduction in the rate of decline while upper-stratospheric ozone showed continued signs of ongoing slow recovery in 2009. Ozone-depleting gas concentrations continued to decline although some halogens such as hydrochlorofluorocarbons are increasing globally. The 2009 Antarctic ozone hole was comparable in size to recent previous ozone holes, while still much larger than those observed before 1990. Due to large interannual variability, it is unclear yet whether the ozone hole has begun a slow recovery process.

Global integrals of upper-ocean heat content for the last several years have reached values consistently higher than for all prior times in the record, demonstrating the dominant role of the oceans in the planet’s energy budget. Aside from the El Niño development in the tropical Pacific and warming in the tropical Indian Ocean, the Pacific Decadal Oscillation (PDO) transitioned to a positive phase during the fall/winter 2009. Ocean heat fluxes contributed to SST anomalies in some regions (e.g., in the North Atlantic and tropical Indian Oceans) while dampening existing SST anomalies in other regions (e.g., the tropical and extratropical Pacific). The downward trend in global chlorophyll observed since 1999 continued through 2009, with current chlorophyll stocks in the central stratified oceans now approaching record lows since 1997.

Extreme warmth was experienced across large areas of South America, southern Asia, Australia, and New Zealand. Australia had its second warmest year on record. India experienced its warmest year on record; Alaska had its second warmest July on record, behind 2004; and New Zealand had its warmest August since records began 155 years ago. Severe cold snaps were reported in the UK, China, and the Russian Federation. Drought affected large parts of southern North America, the Caribbean, South America, and Asia. China suffered its worst drought in five decades. India had a record dry June associated with the reduced monsoon. Heavy rainfall and floods impacted Canada, the United States, the Amazonia and southern South America, many countries along the east and west coasts of Africa, and the UK. The U.S. experienced its wettest October in 115 years and Turkey received its heaviest rainfall over a 48-hr period in 80 years.

Sea level variations during 2009 were strongly affected by the transition from La Niña to El Niño conditions, especially in the tropical Indo-Pacific. Globally, variations about the long-term trend also appear to have been influenced by ENSO, with a slight reduction in global mean sea level during the 2007/08 La Niña event and a return to the long-term trend, and perhaps slightly higher values, during the latter part of 2009 and the current El Niño event. Unusually low Florida Current transports were observed in May and June and were linked to high sea level and coastal flooding along the east coast of the United States in the summer. Sea level significantly decreased along the Siberian coast through a combination of wind, ocean circulation, and steric effects. Cloud and moisture increased in the tropical Pacific. The surface of the western equatorial Pacific freshened considerably from 2008 to 2009, at least partially owing to anomalous eastward advection of fresh surface water along the equator during this latest El Niño. Outside the more variable tropics, the surface salinity anomalies associated with evaporation and precipitation areas persisted, consistent with an enhanced hydrological cycle.

Global tropical cyclone (TC) activity was the lowest since 2005, with six of the seven main hurricane basins (the exception is the Eastern North Pacific) experiencing near-normal or somewhat below-normal TC activity. Despite the relatively mild year for overall hurricane activity, several storms were particularly noteworthy: Typhoon Morakot was the deadliest typhoon on record to hit Taiwan; Cyclone Hamish was the most intense cyclone off Queensland since 1918; and the state of Hawaii experienced its first TC since 1992.

The summer minimum ice extent in the Arctic was the third-lowest recorded since 1979. The 2008/09 boreal snow cover season marked a continuation of relatively shorter snow seasons, due primarily to an early disappearance of snow cover in spring. Preliminary data indicate a high probability that 2009 will be the 19th consecutive year that glaciers have lost mass. Below normal precipitation led the 34 widest marine terminating glaciers in Greenland to lose 101 km2 ice area in 2009, within an annual loss rate of 106 km2 over the past decade. Observations show a general increase in permafrost temperatures during the last several decades in Alaska, northwest Canada, Siberia, and Northern Europe. Changes in the timing of tundra green-up and senescence are also occurring, with earlier green-up in the High Arctic and a shift to a longer green season in fall in the Low Arctic.

The Antarctic Peninsula continues to warm at a rate five times larger than the global mean warming. Associated with the regional warming, there was significant ice loss along the Antarctic Peninsula in the last decade. Antarctic sea ice extent was near normal to modestly above normal for the majority of 2009, with marked regional contrasts within the record. The 2008/09 Antarctic-wide austral summer snowmelt was the lowest in the 30-year history. This 20th annual State of the Climate report highlights the climate conditions that characterized 2009, including notable extreme events. In total, 37 Essential Climate Variables are reported to more completely characterize the State of the Climate in 2009.

Climate Change Indicators in the United States (2010)

EPA's Climate Change Indicators in the United States (PDF) (80 pp, 13.2MB) report will help readers interpret a set of important indicators to better understand climate change. The report presents 24 indicators, each describing trends related to the causes and effects of climate change. It focuses primarily on the United States, but in some cases global trends are presented to provide context or a basis for comparison. EPA will use these indicators to collect data and generate analyses to: * Monitor the effects/impacts of climate change in the United States * Assist decision–makers on how to best use policymaking and program resources to respond to climate change * Assist EPA and its constituents in evaluating the success of their climate change efforts

Preparing for Climate Change in California’s East Bay Municipal Utility District

Location

United States
37° 49' 4.1232" N, 122° 19' 43.1184" W
US
Summary: 

The East Bay Municipal Utility District (EBMUD) has developed mitigation and adaptation strategies to address the effects of climate change on water resources in the San Francisco Bay Area. These strategies include reducing greenhouse gas emissions, incorporating climate change into planning efforts, and creating a monitoring and response plan to inform planning for infrastructure and water quantity and quality in the face of climate change.

Using Robust Decisionmaking as a Tool for Water Resources Planning in Southern California

Location

United States
33° 57' 25.308" N, 117° 24' 19.4256" W
US
Summary: 

Water planners have been struggling to incorporate the impacts of climate change into their planning process due to the inherent uncertainties in regards to the type and magnitude of impacts that will be experienced at the local level. To help water planners incorporate climate change into their long-term plans, the RAND Corporation piloted the Robust Decisionmaking (RDM) tool in the Southern California region in collaboration with the Inland Empire Utilities Agency (IEUA).

Water Utility Climate Alliance

Location

82222 Lance Creek , WY
United States
43° 1' 56.8848" N, 104° 38' 30.8508" W
Wyoming US
Summary: 

The Water Utility Climate Alliance (WUCA) is a coalition formed in 2007 to help water and wastewater utilities prepare for the impacts of climate change. WUCA is dedicated to collaborating on climate change issues affecting drinking water utilities. Members are located throughout the United States from southern California to New York City. Some of these members are now engaged in the Piloting Utility Modeling Applications for Climate Change project, which seeks to identify the best climate modeling tools and data to assist utilities respond to climate change.

Developing a Washington State Climate Change Impacts Response Strategy

Location

United States
47° 2' 39.12" N, 122° 54' 2.52" W
US
Summary: 

Climate change is expected to have many social, economic, and ecological repercussions for Washington state. Through an executive order, six state agencies have formed a working group to develop a adaptation strategy by December 2011. In addition to creating an adaptation plan, this effort will coordinate the management activities of major state agencies in addressing climate change.