Climate Thematic Portal: News
Announced at the World Economic Forum held January 25–29 in Davos, Switzerland, the 2012 Environmental Performance Index (EPI) produced by CIESIN and Yale University’s Center for Environmental Law and Policy (YCELP), in collaboration with the World Economic Forum and the Joint Research Center in Ispra, Italy, identifies Switzerland as first in addressing pollution control and natural resource management challenges. Iraq is ranked last. The EPI has been produced every two years since 2006. The 2012 EPI ranks 132 countries, using 22 indicators in ten major policy categories including air and water pollution, climate change, biodiversity, and forest management.
For the first time a complementary index showing country improvement from 2000 to 2010, the Pilot Trend Environmental Performance Index (Trend EPI), was released. Latvia was ranked number one in the Trend EPI, with Russia in last place. The U.S., which is 49th in the EPI, was just 77th in the Trend EPI, implying few recent gains in addressing environmental issues.
Data sets making up the EPI were contributed from the International Energy Agency, remote sensing research groups at Battelle and University of Maryland, the UN Food and Agriculture Organization, and other entities. Lack of data in certain areas—in particular, waste management, toxic exposures, agricultural sustainability and water resources—continue to limit the ability of the EPI to contribute towards the understanding necessary to develop policies for safeguarding the environment.
CIESIN deputy director Marc Levy has been appointed to the National Research Council (NRC) Committee on Himalayan Glaciers, Climate Change, and Implications for Downstream Populations. The committee, which is chaired by Henry J. Vaux, Jr. of the University of California, Berkley, also includes former CIESIN research scientist Deborah Balk, currently of Baruch College of the City University of New York, Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory scientist Ed Cook, and Goddard Institute for Space Studies (GISS) scientist Drew Shindell. The committee will take stock of what is known regarding glacier melt in the Himalayas and the consequences for populations in the region, including possible security impacts. The committee’s first meeting was held July 11–12, at the Keck Center of the National Academies in Washington, D.C.
The Socioeconomic Data and Applications Center (SEDAC) has released a new data set, Effects of Climate Change on Global Food Production under SRES Emissions and Socio-Economic Scenarios. The data set was developed by scientists from the NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies (GISS).
Participants in the 16th TGICA meeting in Boulder, Colorado, August 4-6.
The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) is undertaking its fifth assessment of the science, impacts, and policy implications of climate change. In support of this process, the IPCC Task Group on Data and Scenario Support for Impact and Climate Analysis (TGICA) held its 16th meeting August 4–6 in Boulder, Colorado, hosted by the University Corporation for Atmospheric Research. CIESIN director Robert Chen participated in the meeting in his capacity as an ex officio member of the TGICA and co-manager of the IPCC Data Distribution Centre (DDC). Information scientist Xiaoshi Xing also attended as an observer. Issues addressed at the meeting included how best to meet the needs of the international assessment community for new socioeconomic scenarios, how to improve guidance materials provided by the TGICA, and how best to update and improve the DDC itself.
Established in 1996, the TGICA facilitates the distribution and application of climate change-related data and scenarios in support of the IPCC assessment process. The TGICA serves as the oversight body for the DDC, which is jointly operated by the British Atmospheric Data Center (BADC) in the United Kingdom, the World Data Center Climate (WDCC) in Germany, and CIESIN.
A team of climate change experts that includes CIESIN deputy director Marc Levy has been chosen by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) to be the coordinating lead authors, lead authors, and review editors for the next in a series of climate change assessment reports. The Fifth Assessment Report (AR5) of the IPCC will be published between 2013 and 2014, and the team will also provide contributions to the Synthesis Report to be published in 2014.
Other Columbia scientists named as participants include Ruth DeFries, Geoffrey Heal, Patrick Kinney, Drew Shindell, and Elke Weber. The experts, numbering 831, have been drawn from the fields of meteorology, physics, oceanography, statistics, engineering, ecology, social sciences and economics, in order to ensure that the reports represent a wide range of scientific views on climate change. In addition, a greater proportion of female experts are participating than before, and a greater number of experts from developing countries are participating, in an aim towards better balance of gender and regional coverage.
Levy will be part of the team producing the AR5 chapter entitled “Human Health, Well-Being, and Security.” His recent research projects explore climate and security linkages, environmental restoration in Haiti, and drivers of emerging infectious diseases.
TerraViva! SEDAC Viewer is a map viewer and standalone software application that uses a powerful data-viewing engine and tools to enable the visualization and integration of hundreds of socioeconomic and environmental variables and layers, including a range of satellite-based data. A three-part tutorial that explains how to use TerraViva! is now available through the YouTube Web site. The tutorial was produced by senior research associate Alex de Sherbinin and senior media designer Al Pinto, under the auspices of the NASA Socioeconomic Data and Applications Center (SEDAC) operated by CIESIN.
A new report says climate change may cause vast human migrations on an order not previously experienced. The report, In Search of Shelter: Mapping the Effects of Climate Change on Displacement and Migration, was written by researchers at CIESIN, the United Nations University, and CARE International. Drawing on empirical evidence from a new survey of every continent, with original maps created by CIESIN that pinpoint potential locations of critical displacements, the report explores how climate change is already causing people to leave their homes, and details some of the specific ways displacement may occur over the next decades. For example, the report says, melting glaciers will negatively affect agricultural systems throughout Asia and contribute to the risk of flooding. Natural disasters will continue to cause short-term migration, while the breakdown of eco-system-dependent livelihoods—such as subsistence herding, farming, and fishing—will cause long-term migration. Developing countries will be most vulnerable to migration and displacement, with less capacity to implement adaptation measures. A potential downward spiral from resulting ecological degradation and breakdown of social structures could ensue, leading to political instability which would further exacerbate population displacement.
The report calls for seeing climate-related migration and displacement as global in nature, not simply isolated local crises. It aims to inform critical policy making by presenting a comprehensive discussion of the linkages between environmental change, displacement, and migration.
A new Web site that provides access to data and information on climate change has been released by the NASA Socioeconomic Data and Applications Center (SEDAC) operated by CIESIN. The Web site, Integrated Assessment of Climate Change: Model Visualization and Analysis (MVA), aims to support researchers and policy analysts who model and assess the associated impacts and policy implications of global climate and environmental change. The Web site also provides access to relevant geospatial data and maps, including socioeconomic data and services available via the section of the International Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Socioeconomic Data Distribution Center (DDC) that is operated by SEDAC.
The fourth assessment report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) released in 2008 concluded that it is likely that anthropogenic warming has had a discernible influence on many physical and biological systems. The database underlying this conclusion has now been made available through the IPCC Data Distribution Center (DDC), which is collaboratively operated by the British Atmospheric Data Centre in the United Kingdom, the Deutsches Klimarechenzentrum (DKRZ) in Germany, and CIESIN.
The Observed Climate Change Impacts Database was developed by an international team of scientists led by Dr. Cynthia Rosenzweig of the NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies (GISS) and the Earth Institute at Columbia University. The database collates information from a wide range of scientific studies that document significant environmental changes such as diminishing glaciers, melting permafrost, earlier snowmelt, lake and river warming, and coastal erosion as well as changes in biological systems such as earlier leaf unfolding and blooming dates and alterations in species interactions. Studies included in the database were based on observational data for at least 20 years between 1970 and 2004, and in some cases drew on more than 35 years of data. In a paper published in Nature in 2008, Dr. Rosenzweig and her colleagues demonstrated that the patterns of observed changes documented in the database and observed regional changes in temperature cannot be explained by natural variations alone. They therefore concluded that anthropogenic climate change is already having significant impacts on physical and biological systems globally and in some continents.
The DDC was established in 1997 to support the data needs of the IPCC assessments. CIESIN began supporting the DDC in 2003 as part of its NASA-funded Socioeconomic Data and Applications Center (SEDAC), focusing on socioeconomic data and scenarios needed for the integrated assessment of climate change impacts.
A 5 km-resolution global wind map based upon a data set of global wind resources and their spatial and temporal variability has been released by 3TIER, a large independent provider of global renewable energy assessment and forecasting. The map is intended to contribute to wind energy development by quantifying the value of the wind resource at any location around the world. According to 3TIER, the data set the map is based upon is the most accurate, consistent, and comprehensive wind data set available at the global scale.
The wind map and the underlying data set are based upon an innovative physical-statistical modeling approach. Unlike traditional models that merely interpolate observed wind speeds between widely dispersed points, this system integrates statistical methods with the power of physical-based models. It simulates the interaction between the atmosphere and the earth’s surface, creating a more robust and accurate wind climatology. Thus accounted for are the myriad processes responsible for wind—from jet level dynamics to surface level processes. The models are able to create realistic wind fields throughout the world, with results that are especially enlightening in regions where observations are not available.
IPCC DDC has released its Data Visualization Tools to aid viewing climate observations and model data.
In this technical paper, Climate Change and Water, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) brings together and evaluates the information from the IPCC Assessment and Special Reports concerning the impacts of climate change on hydrological processes and regimes, and on freshwater resources ― their availability, quality, use, and management.
The headquarters of the World Meteorological Organization in Geneva, Switzerland was the venue for the 15th meeting of the Task Group on Data and Scenario Support for Impact and Climate Analysis (TGICA) of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) on November 19-21. CIESIN director Robert Chen attended the meeting in his capacity as co-manager of the IPCC Data Distribution Center (DDC). CIESIN senior staff associate Xiaoshi Xing also participated. Chen and Xing reported on recent work to make available a database on observed climate change impacts, developed by an international team co-led by Cynthia Rosenzweig of NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies (GISS), and to develop a new system to encourage submission of new observed impact studies in support of the fifth IPCC assessment. They also contributed to a set of recommendations about the next phase of the TGICA’s work, which will be reconstituted by the new IPCC Bureau in 2009.
CARE International, the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, and Maplecroft have released a new report, “Humanitarian Implications of Climate Change: Mapping Emerging Trends and Risk Hotspots.” The report says human-caused climate change is affecting patterns of extreme weather across the world, resulting in greater risk of humanitarian disasters, especially in areas where there already are high levels of human vulnerability.
The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Expert Meeting on New Scenarios will be held in Noordwijkerhout, Netherlands. At this meeting, the development of scenarios for a possible Fifth Assessment Report by the IPCC will be undertaken by the scientific community.
In addition to the hard copy publications available through Cambridge Press, IPCC now has electronic versions of the full Fourth Assessment Reports (AR4) available online:
A round of climate change talks under the auspices of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) concluded in Austria. Agreement was reached on key elements for an effective international response to climate change.
The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), Bangkok, has released the report Mitigation of Climate Change. The Report, an output of the ninth session of the Working Group III meeting in Bangkok, urges a timely response to global warming but stresses that such measures need not be expensive. Two scenarios for reduction of greenhouse emissions are offered, one with greater impact to nations’ Gross National Product (GNP). The IPCC will release a fourth report in Valencia Spain in November 2007. The IPCC, composed of more than 2,000 specialists from more than 130 nations, was established in 1988 by the United Nations to guide government responses to climate change.
The second of a series of reports on global climate change has been released in Brussels by the Working Group II of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). The report, Impacts, Adaptation, and Vulnerability, suggests that severe food and water shortages, and other related issues, could be the result of rising temperatures, and that these rises were already causing global impacts.
The Physical Science Basis, a report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Working Group I, was released in Paris. The report, the first of a series of reports of the 4th Assessment (AR4) of the IPCC, provides an overview of global warming and says it is highly probable that global warming is caused by human activities.
Kenya will host the second meeting of the Parties to the Kyoto Protocol (COP/MOP 2), in conjunction with the twelfth session of the Conference of the Parties to the Climate Change Convention (COP 12), in Nairobi November 6–17, 2006. The conference will also include, from November 6 to 14, the twenty-fifth session of the Subsidiary Body for Scientific and Technological Advice (SBSTA 25), the twenty-fifth session of the Subsidiary Body for Implementation (SBI 25), and the second session of the Ad Hoc Working Group on Further Commitments for Annex I Parties under the Kyoto Protocol (AWG 2). The second workshop under the dialogue on long-term cooperative action to address climate change by enhancing implementation of the Convention (the Dialogue) will be held from November 15 to 16.
The African Regional Workshop on Adaptation was held in Accra, Ghana, from September 21-23, 2006. The workshop aimed at facilitating exchange of information and integrated assessments in order to assist in identifying Africa’s needs and concerns related to adaptation. About 60 participants, including representatives of 33 African Parties, 10 Annex I Parties and a number of international, intergovernmental and nongovernmental organizations, participated in the workshop. Mr. William Kojo Agyemang-Bonsu, from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) of Ghana, chaired the workshop on behalf of SBI Chair Mr. Thomas Becker of Denmark.
IPCC recently released a public letter to the scientific community requesting information regarding activities in scenario development.
The Web site Global Geographical Distribution of Vulnerability to Climate Change has been released by CIESIN. It features the report “A Synthetic Assessment of the Global Distribution of Vulnerability to Climate Change from the IPCC Perspective that Reflects Exposure and Adaptive Capacity” and a complete set of downloadable global distribution maps and data. Scientists and researchers from Wesleyan University, the University of Illinois, the University of Maryland Joint Research Center for Global Change (JRCGC), the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL) of the U.S. Department of Energy, and Columbia University together conducted the assessment, which seeks to advance the understanding of the nature of climate change risks and vulnerabilities. The report and the maps and data are available for download on the Web site.
IPCC made its final decision in its 25th Session in Mauritius on April 28, 2006 regarding further work of the IPCC on Emission Scenarios.