In a panel discussion on Avoiding Irreversible Ocean and Polar Thresholds globally, Dr. Carol Turley introduces specialist speakers on the subjects of Oceans, Polar Ice, Sea Rise and Oceanic solutions at COP 22, Marrakech.
There are over 400 million people living in 136 coastal cities with populations exceeding one billion people. The possibility of a catastrophic sea level rise due to the collapse of the Greenland and West Antarctic Ice Sheets, which store the equivalent of seven to ten meters of sea level rise, is unimaginable.
Megacities built in coastal regions around the world are tending to subside at an increased rate annually, i.e. 6-100mm/year subsidence compared to a sea level rise of 3-10mm/year, therefore aside the obvious environmental problems, there are also numerous related problem like engineering, civil protections, etc., which all need to be considered and addressed in terms of thresholds and possible solutions.
In terms of what can be done, CMIPı experiments are highly influential and informational, being used in various models, e.g. Aer-chem, Ocean and Atmospheric systems, which are mainly driven by emissions of GHG’s, and these models provide good guidance on the physical and chemical parts of the Climate systems, which makes it possible to observe and predict large climate systems, making it a very reliable instrument for driving management.
We also have fast developing observation systems in the oceans, particularly in the physical domain, less so in biological and chemical domains, these observations are incredibly important for understanding what is happening, for driving science and enabling CMIP models, etc. because they have to be tuned using best observations. Looking forward, we are in process of developing and extended model, i.e. Earth System (Science) which will include global economics, regions, agriculture, industry, etc. which will have more transparency and the ability to check predictive results according to proposed decisions, which will become the mainstream development of Earth System Science models.
There are various stakeholders in these processes, e.g. Scientists, Governments-Decision makers, Private sector and Industry, Facilitators/Enablers/Co-Ordinators: NGO and IGO’s including the general population and what we can observe in terms of this value chain of different agencies, groups, etc. involved in our ocean governance. Basically, we are a governmental ‘think-tank’ that produces initiatives that are most important for governing the ocean, for understanding what is happening and also for decision-making at all levels of government and society globally.
UNESCO statement: The greatest risks of climate change arise when thresholds are crossed: what had been gradual becomes sudden; what had been inconvenient becomes intolerable. The greatest reductions in risk will be won in the same way. Gradual, incremental measures will not be enough: we must seek out non-linear, discontinuous, disruptive transformational change (King et al., 2015). This transformational change will also require increased social unacceptability of the possibility of a fossil future!
[IOC – UNESCO summarised : ‘Home to Ocean and Climate Sciences, Advocacy, Capacity Development and Transfer of Marine Technology’]
Note: For further information on UNESCO-IOC’s additional roles and responsibilities in terms of Climate Change process and frameworks, e.g. Protection of Biological Diversity, Sustainable Development, Ocean Science Initiatives, etc. ~ watch this video to the end.
https://www.wcrp-climate.org/about-wcrp/wcrp-overview (World Climate Research Program)
http://www.unesco.org/new/en/natural-sciences/ioc-oceans/ (UNESCO-IOC Oceans)
ı (CMIP: Coupled Model Intercomparison Project is to better understand past, present and future climate changes arising from either natural, unforced variability or in response to changes in radiative forcing in a multi-model context.)