Coastal Cambridge | Harvard Political Review

It will not knock the wind out of us all at once — it will surge, subside, return, and then return again, until we learn that we must learn to live with it. In between a roar and a trickle, littered with the bits and pieces of city life that it so inadvertently disrupts, the ocean will rise. Salty, murky, and unforgiving, it will lap at the base of the Ivory Tower. And it will stay.

The primest of Harvard’s real estate will be the first to go. A crop of giddy freshmen will score Winthrop House on Housing Day, not knowing they will be the first who have to wade back home. Relentless, the water will wash through Eliot and Kirkland, Quincy, Lowell, Leverett, Dunster, and Mather. The Lampoon castle will become moated by Mount Auburn Street.

Some students will be sleeping, and will not hear the thunder, or the rain, or the very first sounds of the sea. They will be woken by the din of waves and mayhem, as the Atlantic makes its chaotic Cambridge foray. Across what was once a river, the Business School will be almost completely underwater, as will much of Boston. Cold and clean from the sky, brown and brackish from the sea, water will merge and surge and render Adams House oceanfront.

The skies will clear. Shortly thereafter, so will the water. It will leave a mess behind. And it will come again. Too soon, it will not take a storm for the sea to swell. The moon will be full and high tides will be higher, and there will be a sunny day when the tide quietly draws the ocean back up just as far. About twice a month, by the end of this century, Harvard will get soggy, and emergency will become normalcy.

Rising sea levels and the havoc they will wreak are dystopian, but they are not hypothetical. Algorithms, not imagination, are the backbone of these projections — they come straight from an extensive report on rising seas published in 2017.

…(read more).

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Global Cities at Risk from Sea Level Rise: Google Earth Video | Surging Seas: Sea level rise analysis by Climate Central

Maps are one way to visualize sea level rise. Google Earth lets us put our research findings in three dimensions.

See Global Tour | NYC, Rio and London | Antwerp, Belgium | Buenos Aires, Argentina | Dubai, UAE | Durban, South Africa | Hamburg, Germany | Hong Kong, China | London, UK | Melbourne, Australia | New York City, U.S.A. | Osaka, Japan | Rio de Janeiro, Brazil | Tokyo, Japan | Vancouver, Canada | Washington DC, U.S.A.

View videos with text in the follow languages: العربية (Arabic) | 中文简体 (Chinese Simplified) | 中文繁体 (Chinese Traditional) | English | Français (French) | Deutsch (German) | 日本語 (Japanese) | Português (Portuguese) | Русский (Russian) | Español (Spanish)

For this project we developed special KML layers corresponding precisely to different elevated global sea surfaces that could be locked in by different carbon emissions pathways, as projected in our recent scientific paper, published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the U.S.A. The sea level rise required to reach these levels would most likely play out over centuries — but we set the path today.

…(read more).

Scientists are raising the alarm that upcoming USDA overhaul will slash research funding – The Washington Post

Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue plans to relocate a top research office as part of a reorganization of his department. (Pablo E. Piovano/Bloomberg News) by Caitlin Dewey August 16 at 7:00 AM

Scientists are raising alarms over a Trump administration plan to overhaul two federal offices tasked with food and agriculture research, calling the move a ploy to slash funding to projects on climate change, nutrition and other top concerns.

The plan, announced by Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue last week, would relocate one top research office — the Economic Research Service — into the Office of the Secretary, a political branch of the Agriculture Department. It would also move ERS and a second scientific office, the National Institute for Food and Agriculture, out of Washington by the end of 2019.

The reorganization, one of several launched over the past 15 months, would streamline the USDA’s operations, save taxpayer money and help the agency recruit and retain top staff, Perdue said in a statement.

…(read more).

Food-matters

Mapping Choices: Carbon, Climate, and Rising Seas — Our Global Legacy | Surging Seas: Sea level rise analysis by Climate Central

Description: This report assesses and lists global nations and urban agglomerations at risk by projected total population exposure, percent exposure, and differences in exposure to locked-in long-term sea level rise under warming scenarios.

Date: November 2015

Full PDF of Report | Click here to download city and national data from the analysis >>Executive Summary

Carbon emissions causing 4 degrees Celsius of warming (7.2 degrees Fahrenheit) — a business-as- usual scenario — could lock in enough eventual sea level rise to submerge land currently home to 470 to 760 million people globally. Carbon cuts resulting in the proposed international target of 2 °C warming (3.6 °F) would reduce the rise locked in so that it would threaten areas now occupied by as few as 130 million people. This contrast is one expression of what is at stake in the December 2015 global climate talks in Paris.

This report builds closely on a paper first published online in October 2015 in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America by the same authors. That research used relationships between cumulative carbon emissions, warming, and the future global sea level rise they lock in to assess implications for the United States and its cities. What distinguishes the current report is its application of sea level projections to global elevation, tidal, population, and administrative boundary data, instead of U.S. data only.

Among all nations, this report finds that China has the most to lose from business as usual, with 145 million citizens today on implicated land. China also has the most to gain from limiting warming to 2 °C, which would cut the total to 64 million. Twelve other nations have more than 10 million people living on implicated land under 4 °C warming — India, Bangladesh, Viet Nam, Indonesia, Japan, the United States, Philippines, Egypt, Brazil, Thailand, Myanmar, and the Netherlands, in descending order of total threats. A carbon path that limits warming to 2 °C would reduce exposure by more than 10 million in each listed nation except the last two, and by half or more in all listed nations but Viet Nam (still achieving 44% reduction), Brazil (45%) and the Netherlands (13%). Global megacities with the top ten populations in the balance include Shanghai, Hong Kong, Calcutta, Mumbai, Dhaka, Jakarta, and Hanoi. 4 °C warming could lead to submergence of land inhabited by more than half the population of Shanghai, Mumbai and Hanoi, among these.

These results are based on median sea level rise projections. They are also based on global elevation data with a tendency to understate exposure.

Carbon emissions this century can lock in these projected threats, but the associated sea level rise is expected to play out over a longer period, likely centuries.

This report assesses and lists global nations and urban agglomerations at risk by projected total population exposure, percent exposure, and differences in exposure under warming scenarios of 1.5, 2, 3 and 4 °C (2.7, 3.6, 5.4 and 7.2 °F). Results do not account for present or future shoreline defenses, such as levees, that might be built, nor for future population growth, decline or relocation.

In conjunction with this report, Climate Central has extended its interactive and embeddable Mapping Choices platform globally (choices.climatecentral.org).

Users can now type in any coastal city name or postal code worldwide, and visually compare the potential consequences of different warming or emissions scenarios on a local map. Climate Central is also serving Google Earth layers for visualizing sea levels associated with 2 °C or 4 °C warming in areas with 3-D building data, available here; and offering spreadsheets for download with analytic results for comprehensive lists of global nations and coastal urban agglomerations, available here.

See as well:
http://www.climatecentral.org/wgts/mapping-choices/mappingchoices.html

and:

and particularly:

BBC World Service – Newsday, The red tide choking Florida’s waters

Florida has declared a state of emergency due to a toxic algae bloom known as a red tide. It’s overrun the southern Gulf Coast this summer, devastating sea life and driving people from the water. It’s left tons of dead fish washed up on beaches and an awful smell. Mike Parsons is a professor of Marine Science at Florida Gulf Coast University and director of the Coastal Watershed Institute:

(Photo: Fish killed by red tide wash up on a Florida beach rally: Getty Images)

Release date:

17 August 2018

Wheat gene map to help ‘feed the world’ – BBC News

The starting pistol has been fired in a race to develop “climate change resistant” wheat with the publication of a map of the crop’s genes.
By Pallab Ghosh BBC

16 August 2018

An international team of scientists has identified the location of more than 100,000 wheat genes.

The researchers say the map will accelerate the development of new strains to cope with the increased heat waves expected from climate change.

The research has been published in the journal Science.

Professor Cristobal Uauy, who is a project leader in crop genetics at the John Innes Centre in Norwich, described the pinpointing of wheat genes as “a game changer”.

“We need to find ways to make sustainable production of wheat in the face of climate change and increasing demand,” he told BBC News.

“This is something we’ve been waiting for for many years. The whole of human civilisation should be very excited with this because for the first time now we’ll be able to make the advances that scientists and plant breeders have wanted to do in wheat in a much more targeted manner and so feed the world in the future.”

…(read more).
See:

Shifting the limits in wheat research and breeding using a fully annotated reference genome | Science

INTRODUCTION

Wheat (Triticum aestivum L.) is the most widely cultivated crop on Earth, contributing about a fifth of the total calories consumed by humans. Consequently, wheat yields and production affect the global economy, and failed harvests can lead to social unrest. Breeders continuously strive to develop improved varieties by fine-tuning genetically complex yield and end-use quality parameters while maintaining stable yields and adapting the crop to regionally specific biotic and abiotic stresses.

RATIONALE

Breeding efforts are limited by insufficient knowledge and understanding of wheat biology and the molecular basis of central agronomic traits. To meet the demands of human population growth, there is an urgent need for wheat research and breeding to accelerate genetic gain as well as to increase and protect wheat yield and quality traits. In other plant and animal species, access to a fully annotated and ordered genome sequence, including regulatory sequences and genome-diversity information, has promoted the development of systematic and more time-efficient approaches for the selection and understanding of important traits. Wheat has lagged behind, primarily owing to the challenges of assembling a genome that is more than five times as large as the human genome, polyploid, and complex, containing more than 85% repetitive DNA. To provide a foundation for improvement through molecular breeding, in 2005, the International Wheat Genome Sequencing Consortium set out to deliver a high-quality annotated reference genome sequence of bread wheat.

RESULTS

An annotated reference sequence representing the hexaploid bread wheat genome in the form of 21 chromosome-like sequence assemblies has now been delivered, giving access to 107,891 high-confidence genes, including their genomic context of regulatory sequences. This assembly enabled the discovery of tissue- and developmental stage–related gene coexpression networks using a transcriptome atlas representing all stages of wheat development. The dynamics of change in complex gene families involved in environmental adaptation and end-use quality were revealed at subgenome resolution and contextualized to known agronomic single-gene or quantitative trait loci. Aspects of the future value of the annotated assembly for molecular breeding and research were exemplarily illustrated by resolving the genetic basis of a quantitative trait locus conferring resistance to abiotic stress and insect damage as well as by serving as the basis for genome editing of the flowering-time trait.

CONCLUSION

This annotated reference sequence of wheat is a resource that can now drive disruptive innovation in wheat improvement, as this community resource establishes the foundation for accelerating wheat research and application through improved understanding of wheat biology and genomics-assisted breeding. Importantly, the bioinformatics capacity developed for model-organism genomes will facilitate a better understanding of the wheat genome as a result of the high-quality chromosome-based genome assembly. By necessity, breeders work with the genome at the whole chromosome level, as each new cross involves the modification of genome-wide gene networks that control the expression of complex traits such as yield. With the annotated and ordered reference genome sequence in place, researchers and breeders can now easily access sequence-level information to precisely define the necessary changes in the genomes for breeding programs. This will be realized through the implementation of new DNA marker platforms and targeted breeding technologies, including genome editing.

…(read more).