WWF Climate Crowd

Location

Washington , DC
United States
38° 54' 25.8912" N, 77° 2' 12.7356" W
District Of Columbia US
Tool Overview: 

What: WWF Climate Crowd is a new initiative to crowdsource information on how rural communities are responding to changes in weather and climate, and how their responses are impacting biodiversity. We are partnering with organizations like the Peace Corps to collect this data, fill critical knowledge gaps, find and implement ways to better help communities and wildlife adapt, alter our conservation strategies in light of the information we gather, and raise awareness through stories from the front lines of climate change.

An Integrated Regional Climate Strategy: An Impossible Dream?

One of the most publicized impacts of global warming is a predicted acceleration of sea level rise. Water levels in San Francisco Bay could rise by 1.4 meters by the end of this century and flood over 330 square miles of low-lying shoreline property and $60 billion of property. The San Francisco Bay Conservation and Development Commission has formulated a broad outline of a comprehensive strategy for addressing climate change by reducing greenhouse gas emissions and adapting to sea level rise in the Bay Area region.

Landscape-scale Indicators of Biodiversity's Vulnerability to Climate Change

Climate change will increase the vulnerability of species across the globe to population loss and extinction. In order to develop conservation strategies to facilitate adaptation to this change, managers must understand the vulnerability of the habitats and species they are trying to manage. For most biodiversity managers, conducting vulnerability assessments for all of the species they manage would be prohibitively costly, time consuming, and potentially misleading since some data required does not yet exist. We present a rapid and cost-effective method to estimate the vulnerability of biodiversity to climate change impacts across broad areas using landscape-scale indicators. While this method does not replace species-specific vulnerability assessments, it allows biodiversity managers to focus analysis on the species likely to be most vulnerable and identify the categories of conservation strategies for implementation to reduce biodiversity's vulnerability to climate change. We applied this method to California, USA to map the portions of the state where biodiversity managers should focus on minimizing current threats to biodiversity (9%), reducing constraints to adaptation (28%), reducing exposure to climatic changes (24%), and implementing all three (9%). In 18% of the state, estimated vulnerability is low so continuing current strategies and monitoring for changes is likely sufficient, while in 12% of the state, vulnerability is so high that biodiversity managers may have to reassess current conservation goals. In combination with species-specific vulnerability assessments or alone, mapping vulnerability based on landscape-scale indicators will allow managers to take an essential step toward implementing conservation strategies to help imperiled species adapt to climate change.

Building Resilience to Climate Change: Ecosystem-Based Adaptation and Lessons From the Field

From the Introduction:

This book is one of the main contributions of the Commission on Ecosystem Management (CEM) of the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) to the international discussions on how we should address climate change impacts on natural and human systems, including ecosystems and the services they provide to society and communities. It was produced through contributions of CEM members worldwide and those from other scientists with key experience in research on, and implementation of climate change adaptation measures. Eleven case studies were selected by a team of editors, covering different ecosystems and regions around the world. The criteria for selection included the availability of an impact assessment of climate change on local communities, or biodiversity at ecosystem level, a clear analysis of the climate change vulnerability of ecosystems and human communities, a proposal for adaptation measures or set of actions being implemented – all based on the concept of ecosystem management – and, ultimately, an analysis of implementation results with future prospects.

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.

Establishing Special Use Zones in National Parks: Can It Break the Conservation Deadlock in Indonesia?

The 2006 regulation on national park zoning allows for 7 zones along the spectrum of conservation and use. This system will be difficult to manage and must be simplified. Two zones are recommended, for use and conservation. This will make the initial zoning definition and later management easier. Special use zones are to be established through formal agreement and managed collaboratively with the aim of integrating development for local people and conservation for the public interest.

Climate Change and Natural Resources in Pima County: Anticipated Effects and Management Challenges

Climate change (also referred to as climate disruption) is a considerable threat to the biota of Pima County and beyond and therefore warrants special attention in any large‐scale planning process such as Pima County’s Sonoran Desert Conservation Plan and Multiple‐species Conservation Plan. During the 20th Century, the earth’s surface warmed by approximately 1.0°F, a trend that appeared to be even more severe in the Southwestern United States. Climate models for the 21st Century show ever‐increasing temperatures and prolonged drought in the Sonoran Desert. Precipitation is expected to become more variable and most models for the Sonoran Desert predict a slight increase in summer precipitation but significant decreases in winter precipitation.

The ecological consequences of a changed climate will present serious long‐term challenges to the maintenance of proper functioning ecosystems and the species that rely on them. Projected ecological effects on natural resources in Pima County include:

  • Within‐community shifts in vegetation composition due to higher atmospheric carbon dioxide and temperatures;
  • Vegetation communities will move upslope, thereby endangering communities at the tops of mountain ranges;
  • Impaired hydrological function due to more intense flooding and subsequent runoff;
  • Conditions in the lower elevation upland communities favoring the spread of invasive species such as buffelgrass;
  • Less water in valley‐bottom aquatic and riparian systems;
  • Longer fire seasons and more intense fires;
  • Species shifts in abundance, distribution, and phenology.

The extinction risk from climate change is greatest for those species that are already at risk, such as many of the Priority Vulnerable Species that formed the foundation of the planning effort for the Sonoran Desert Conservation Plan. Climate‐driven effects on ecosystem structure and function (e.g., fire, nutrient cycling, succession, and invasion by exotic species), coupled with non‐climate related threats (e.g., off‐road vehicle use, mining, and pollution), will effect Priority Vulnerable Species and other species and their habitats in Pima County. As a first approximation of effects on specific species, I provide a qualitative evaluation of 49 species that are proposed for coverage in the forthcoming Habitat Conservation Plan for Pima County. Not surprisingly, the most significant climate‐related impacts are likely to be to aquatic and riparian species.

Given the anticipated effects of climate change on natural resources in Pima County, it will be critical for climate assessments to be included in any natural resource planning effort by the County such as restoration projects and the ranch management programs. To facilitate these assessments, Pima County must continue to be engaged with the scientific and land management community to promote regional adaptation strategies into the Sonoran Desert Conservation Plan. Monitoring and adaptive management programs and processes, led by both the County and our partners, will also be important. Finally, minimizing the use of fossil fuels (the most significant contributor to climate change) through the facilitation of a compact urban form, and promoting investments in energy efficiency in housing and urban infrastructure will lessen Pima County’s contribution to a warming planet.