Coral Reef Resilience and Resistance to Bleaching

This paper synthesises much of the current scientific knowledge on coral reef resistance and resilience to bleaching, a possible major effect of climate change. Following a brief overview of coral bleaching and what is meant by resistance and resilience, the paper highlights a variety of resistance and resilience factors and identifies some gaps in knowledge. It continues by providing an overview of some of the tools and strategies we can use to enhance coral reef resilience. Finally, it reviews current initiatives working on coral reef resilience and also identifying some possible future opportunities for research into the issue.

Vulnerability of U.S. National Parks to Sea-Level Rise and Coastal Change

The National Park Service (NPS) manages nearly 12,000 kilometers (7,500 miles) of shorelines along oceans and the Great Lakes. In 2001, the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS), in partnership with the NPS Geologic Resources Division, began conducting hazard assessments and creating map products (fig. 1) to assist the NPS in managing vulnerable coastal resources.

One of the most important and practical issues in coastal geology is determining the physical response of coastal environments to water-level changes. Two trends may affect shorelines in U.S. national parks: rising global sea level and falling Great Lakes water levels.

Global sea level has risen about 18 centimeters (7.1 inches) in the past century (Douglas, 1997). Computer models suggest that climate change will cause an additional rise of 48 cm(18.9 in.) by the year 2100 (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, 2001), which is more than double the rate of sea-level rise over the past century. Thus, sea-level rise is expected to have a large, sustained impact on future coastal evolution. Potential effects include coastal erosion, saltwater intrusion into ground-water aquifers, inundation of wetlands and estuaries, and threats to cultural and historic resources, as well as park infrastructure.

Water levels in the Great Lakes have fluctuated over the past century by as much as 1.9 meters (6.2 feet). Changing climate is predicted to cause lake levels to decline by as much as 2.4 m (7.9 ft) over the next century (Great Lakes Regional Assessment Group, 2000). Potential effects include reducing areas accessible to cargo and recreational boats, exposing toxic sediments, and declining production of plankton that support fish.


Climate Variability and Change and Sea level Rise in the Pacific Islands Region: A Resource Book for Policy and Decision Makers, Educators and other Stakeholders

In recent years, global warming has come to the fore as one of the world’s most serious environmental problems. Meanwhile, over the past ten years, international negotiations and the accumulation of scientific knowledge in this field have led to remarkable progress — such as the adoption and entry into force of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, the adoption of the Kyoto Protocol, and the release of the Third Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. With regard to the Kyoto Protocol, which sets forth the commitments of developed countries for reductions of greenhouse gas emissions, Japan completed its ratification procedures in June 2002, and is also working with other countries to make the Protocol’s entry into force a reality.

Pacific Island Countries are in one of the most vulnerable regions of the world. Here, international assistance is especially needed in order to carry out the appropriate adaptation strategies for global warming. For this reason, the South Pacific Regional Environment Programme (SPREP) and Ministry of the Environment of Japan have implemented a variety of initiatives in cooperation with a number of the countries in this region, from the perspective of promoting implementation of adaptation measures by these countries. Vulnerability assessments of coastal zones and the feasibility of adaptation measures were the subject of studies conducted during 1992 to 1995 in a number of Pacific Island States (Tonga, Fiji, Western Samoa and Tuvalu), in collaboration with SPREP and the University of the South Pacific (USP).

This Resource Book was prepared based on the “Assessment of Possible Climate Change and Sea-level Rise Activities to be Undertaken in Pacific Island Countries in Cooperation with Japan” which was conducted in 1999 and 2000, through cooperation between SPREP and the Ministry of the Environment. The Resource Book is designed to be used widely as a tool for awareness-raising, being a summary of the latest knowledge about climate change as it relates to the Pacific Islands Region. A compilation of the latest literature, scientific knowledge and data, with frequent use of diagrams and tables, it is designed to be readily understood by readers with a variety of viewpoints and backgrounds, such as policy-makers, educators and research coordinators.

Shishmaref Relocation Strategic Plan January 2002

The community of Shishmaref has determined that the threat to life and property from reoccurring beachfront erosion requires immediate action. The community has taken the first step by establishing an erosion and relocation coalition made up of the governing members of the City, Indian Reorganization Act (IRA) Council and Shishmaref Native Corporation Board of Directors.  Faced with the decision of whether to remain at its present location or to move, the majority of the community is in favor of moving. This plan is a guideline to assist the community as well as state, federal, and other agencies in assisting Shishmaref with an orderly relocation.