Climate models are more accurate than previously thought

A depiction of how global temperatures calculated from models use air temperatures above the ocean surface (right frame), while observations are based on the water temperature in the top few metres (left frame)
Comparison of 84 climate model simulations (using RCP8.5) against HadCRUT4 observations (black), using either air temperatures (red line and shading) or blended temperatures using the HadCRUT4 method (blue line and shading). The upper panel shows anomalies derived from the unmodified climate model results, the lower shows the results adjusted to include the effect of updated forcings from Schmidt et al. (2014).
Global climate models aren’t given nearly enough credit for their accurate global temperature change projections. As the 2014 IPCC report showed, observed global surface temperature changes have been within the range of climate model simulations.
Now a new study shows that the models were even more accurate than previously thought. In previous evaluations like the one done by the IPCC, climate model simulations of global surface air temperature were compared to global surface temperature observational records like HadCRUT4. However, over the oceans, HadCRUT4 uses sea surface temperatures rather than air temperatures.
Thus looking at modeled air temperatures and HadCRUT4 observations isn’t quite an apples-to-apples comparison for the oceans. As it turns out, sea surface temperatures haven’t been warming fast as marine air temperatures, so this comparison introduces a bias that makes the observations look cooler than the model simulations. In reality, the comparisons weren’t quite correct.
We have highlighted the fact that the planet does not warm uniformly. Air temperatures warm faster than the oceans, air temperatures over land warm faster than global air temperatures. When you put a number on global warming, that number always depends on what you are measuring. And when you do a comparison, you need to ensure you are comparing the same things.
The model projections have generally reported global air temperatures. That’s quite helpful, because we generally live in the air rather than the water. The observations, by mixing air and water temperatures, are expected to slightly underestimate the warming of the atmosphere.
The new study addresses this problem by instead blending the modeled air temperatures over land with the modeled sea surface temperatures to allow for an apples-to-apples comparison. The authors also identified another challenging issue for these model-data comparisons in the Arctic. Over sea ice, surface air temperature measurements are used, but for open ocean, sea surface temperatures are used.
As co-author Michael Mann notes, as Arctic sea ice continues to melt away, this is another factor that accurate model-data comparisons must account for.
One key complication that arises is that the observations typically extrapolate land temperatures over sea ice covered regions since the sea surface temperature is not accessible in that case. But the distribution of sea ice changes seasonally, and there is a long-term trend toward decreasing sea ice in many regions. So the observations actually represent a moving target.

When accounting for these factors, the study finds that the difference between observed and modeled temperatures since 1975 is smaller than previously believed. The models had projected a 0.226°C per decade global surface air warming trend for 1975–2014 (and 0.212°C per decade over the geographic area covered by the HadCRUT4 record). However, when matching the HadCRUT4 methods for measuring sea surface temperatures, the modeled trend is reduced to 0.196°C per decade. The observed HadCRUT4 trend is 0.170°C per decade.

When doing an apples-to-apples comparison, the difference between modeled global temperature simulations and observations is 38% smaller than previous estimates. As noted in a 2014 paper led by NASA GISS director Gavin Schmidt, less energy from the sun has reached the Earth’s surface than anticipated in these model simulations, both because solar activity declined more than expected, and volcanic activity was higher than expected. Ed Hawkins, another co-author of this study, wrote about this effect.
Further information:
Climate models are even more accurate than you thought
The difference between modeled and observed global surface temperature changes is 38% smaller than previously thought

Robust comparison of climate models with observations using blended land air and ocean sea surface temperatures

Authors Kevin Cowtan,Zeke Hausfather, Ed Hawkins, Peter Jacobs, Michael E. Mann, Sonya K. Miller, Byron A. Steinman, Martin B. Stolpe, Robert G. Way


The level of agreement between climate model simulations and observed surface temperature change is a topic of scientific and policy concern. While the Earth system continues to accumulate energy due to anthropogenic and other radiative forcings, estimates of recent surface temperature evolution fall at the lower end of climate model projections. Global mean temperatures from climate model simulations are typically calculated using surface air temperatures, while the corresponding observations are based on a blend of air and sea surface temperatures. This work quantifies a systematic bias in model-observation comparisons arising from differential warming rates between sea surface temperatures and surface air temperatures over oceans. A further bias arises from the treatment of temperatures in regions where the sea ice boundary has changed. Applying the methodology of the HadCRUT4 record to climate model temperature fields accounts for 38% of the discrepancy in trend between models and observations over the period 1975-2014.


Release of controversial climate paper by James Hansen on sea level rise suggesting major coastal impacts in near term

By Magdalena A K Muir, Climate Editor,
With his 1988 congressional testimony, then NASA scientist James Hansen is credited with putting the global warming issue on the map by saying that a warming trend had already begun. Now James Hansen — who retired in 2013 from his NASA post, and is currently an adjunct professor at Columbia University’s Earth Institute — is publishing what he says may be his most important paper. 
Along with 16 other researchers — including leading experts on the Greenland and Antarctic ice sheets — he has authored a lengthy study outlining an scenario of potentially rapid sea level rise combined with more intense storm systems.
If correct, his paper could have very strong implications for the Europe and the world’s coasts. The paper was released this week prior to peer review by other scientists, and has scenarios of sea level rise that occur more rapidly than those ratified by the United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change in its latest assessment of the state of climate science, (2013). 
In this recent paper, the authors conclude that 2 degrees Celsius global warming—the widely accepted international target for how much the world should limit global warming—is highly dangerous for the world’s coasts. The paper takes, as one of its starting points, evidence regarding accelerating ice loss from some parts of the planet’s ice sheets, especially West Antarctica. One of Hansen’s co-authors on the new paper, Eric Rignot of NASA, was the lead author of a 2014 study suggesting that the decline of West Antarctica could now be irreversible. In the new paper, Hansen and his colleagues suggest that the “doubling time” for ice loss from West Antarctica — the time period over which the amount of loss could double — could be as short as 10 years. In other words, a non-linear process could be at work, triggering major sea level rise in a time frame of 50 to 200 years. By contrast, the IPCC assumed more of a linear process, suggesting only around 1 meter of sea level rise, at most, by 2100. 
“If the ocean continues to accumulate heat and increase melting of marine-terminating ice shelves of Antarctica and Greenland, a point will be reached at which it is impossible to avoid large scale ice sheet disintegration with sea level rise of at least several meters,” the new paper says.Using climate models and an analogy with the so-called Eemian period or “Marine isotope stage 5e” — an interglacial period some 120,000 years ago that featured considerable sea level rise — the paper goes on to suggest that major ice loss from both Antarctica and Greenland will change the circulation of the oceans, as large volumes of cold, fresh water pour into the seas. This freshening or decreasing saltiness of the ocean, at both poles, could ultimately block the oceans’ overturning circulation, in which (in the northern hemisphere) warm water travels northward, and then colder, denser water sinks and travels back south again.
This paper was released prior to peer review, and some comments are starting to be made  well known climate scientists in public media, such as the Washington post article. Some comments by reknown climate scientists follow:
Michael Mann, a climate researcher at Penn State University who reviewed the paper at the Post’s request, commented by email that “their case is most compelling when it comes to the matter of West Antarctic ice sheet collapse and the substantial sea level rise that would result, potentially on a timescale as short as a century or two.” But Mann was more skeptical of other aspects of the work.“Their climate model scenario wherein Greenland and Antarctic meltwater caused by warming poles, leads to a near total shutdown of ocean heat transport to higher latitudes, cooling most of the globe (particularly the extratropics), seems rather far-fetched to me,” Mann said. Nonetheless, Mann said, “Whether or not all of the specifics of the study prove to be correct, the authors have initiated an absolutely critical discussion.”
Stefan Rahmstorf of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research, an expert on sea level rise and the oceans’ overturning circulation, commented by email that “I agree that 2 C warming is dangerous and will very likely commit our home planet to meters of sea-level rise.” Rahmstorf had not yet had time to review the full Hansen paper Monday, so his comment was strictly about the danger of major sea level rise, not the other scenarios outlined in the study. Rahmstorf has previously suggested that among past periods featuring higher seas, the Eemian may not be the best analogy for where the planet is headed, given that changes at that time were driven by planetary orbital cycles, rather than carbon dioxide emissions.
Kevin Trenberth, an influential climate researcher at the National Center for Atmospheric Research in Boulder, Colorado, was critical of the paper, calling it “provocative and intriguing but rife with speculation and ‘what if’ scenarios.” Trenberth objected in particular to the climate modeling scenarios used to study freshwater injection as ice sheets melt. “These experiments introduce a lot of very cold fresh water in various places, and then they see what happens,” he wrote by email. “The question is how relevant these are to the real world and what is happening as global warming progresses?   They do not seem at all realistic to me.”“There are way too many assumptions and extrapolations for anything here to be taken seriously other than to promote further studies,” Trenberth wrote.
Richard Alley, a glaciologist at Penn State University and an expert on the planet’s ice sheets, said that the study by Hansen and his colleagues was likely to prompt a lot of thought. “Many parts of the new paper are likely to stimulate much technical discussion and further research in our community, as we try to weave together the deep-time and recent history to provide useful projections for the future,” he said by email.“This new paper is not ‘the answer,’” Alley continued. “Particularly, replacing the simple assumptions about doubling times of ice loss with physically based insights is a major focus of our field, but is not yet done and not likely to be ready really quickly.” Alley acknowledged that the IPCC’s sea level rise estimate “is well on the optimistic low-rise side of the possible outcomes,” and added that “the estimates in the new paper of freshening, and discussion of stabilization of the southern ocean and influences on precipitation, are interesting and important.”
Michael Oppenheimer, Albert G. Milbank Professor of Geosciences and International Affairs in the Woodrow Wilson School at Princeton University, commented by email that “If we cook the planet long enough at about two degrees warming, there is likely to be a staggering amount of sea level rise.  Key questions are when would greenhouse-gas emissions lock in this sea level rise and how fast would it happen? The latter point is critical to understanding whether and how we would be able to deal with such a threat.“The paper takes a stab at answering the ‘how soon?’ question but we remain largely in the dark.  Giving the state of uncertainty and the high risk, humanity better get its collective foot off the accelerator.”

There is also a very interesting discussion of this recent paper in an influential climate blog by Andrew Revkin, with some text excerpted below: A Rocky First Review for a Climate Paper Warning of a Stormy Coastal Crisis

On July 23, I wrote about the rocky rollout, prior to peer review, of “Ice Melt, Sea Level Rise and Superstorms: Evidence from Paleoclimate Data, Climate Modeling, and Modern Observations that 2°C Global Warming is Highly Dangerous.” The 66-page, 17-author paper was posted Thursday in Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics Discussions, the pre-publication forum for papers submitted to the European Geosciences Union journal Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics. (You’ll hear more on the benefits and problems of such open-review journals toward the end of this post.)The paper is a sweeping cross-disciplinary challenge to status-quo science on risks posed by the building greenhouse effect. The authors, led by James E. Hansen, the veteran climatologist-turned-campaigner, stitch a variety of findings and simulations into a worrisome vision of a looming and abrupt collapse of Antarctic ice sheets and a multi-meter rise in storm-raked seas. They directly call for urgent action by the world’s nations at the Paris treaty talks in December. It’s no wonder the paper made headlines. However less than two days of public review, the paper is being revealed as much more of a rough sketch, a provocation, than a thorough, deeply grounded new thesis. In science, that’s not a bad thing. It is how progress gets made. Dip the gutsy new idea in the acid bath of peer review. What’s left is new knowledge.But in the public sphere, with consequential science, the result can be whiplash, at best, and confusion and disengagement at worst. 
Further information:
A recording of a phone conference call with James E Hansen on July 20, 2015
In this call, James E. Hansen of Columbia University (and formerly NASA’s lead climate scientist) discussed a new discussion paper positing that abrupt sea level rise is a significant prospect with unabated greenhouse gas emissions. Two reporters expressed concerns about the lack of peer review.

The world’s most famous climate scientist just outlined an alarming scenario for our planet’s future
A new study predicting 10 feet of sea level rise by the century’s end isn’t supported by the mainstream scientific community.
Ice melt, sea level rise and superstorms: evidence from paleoclimate data, climate modeling, and modern observations that 2 ◦C global warming is highly dangerous J. Hansen , M. Sato , P. Hearty , R. Ruedy, M. Kelley , V. Masson-Delmotte, G. Russell4 , G. Tselioudis , J. Cao , E. Rignot, I. Velicogna, E. Kandiano , K. von Schuckmann, P. Kharecha , A. N. Legrande , M. Bauer, and K.-W. Lo
Abstract of paper
There is evidence of ice melt, sea level rise to +5–9 m, and extreme storms in the prior interglacial period that was less than 1 ◦C warmer than today. Human-made climate forcing is stronger and more rapid than paleo forcings, but much can be learned by 5 combining insights from paleoclimate, climate modeling, and on-going observations. We argue that ice sheets in contact with the ocean are vulnerable to non-linear disintegration in response to ocean warming, and we posit that ice sheet mass loss can be approximated by a doubling time up to sea level rise of at least several meters. Doubling times of 10, 20 or 40 years yield sea level rise of several meters in 50, 100 or 10 200 years. Paleoclimate data reveal that subsurface ocean warming causes ice shelf melt and ice sheet discharge. Our climate model exposes amplifying feedbacks in the Southern Ocean that slow Antarctic bottom water formation and increase ocean temperature near ice shelf grounding lines, while cooling the surface ocean and increasing sea ice cover and water column stability. Ocean surface cooling, in the North Atlantic 15 as well as the Southern Ocean, increases tropospheric horizontal temperature gradients, eddy kinetic energy and baroclinicity, which drive more powerful storms. We focus attention on the Southern Ocean’s role in affecting atmospheric CO2 amount, which in turn is a tight control knob on global climate. The millennial (500–2000 year) time scale of deep ocean ventilation affects the time scale for natural CO2 change, thus the time 20 scale for paleo global climate, ice sheet and sea level changes. This millennial carbon cycle time scale should not be misinterpreted as the ice sheet time scale for response to a rapid human-made climate forcing. Recent ice sheet melt rates have a doubling time near the lower end of the 10–40 year range. We conclude that 2 ◦C global warming above the preindustrial level, which would spur more ice shelf melt, is highly danger- 25 ous. Earth’s energy imbalance, which must be eliminated to stabilize climate, provides a crucial metric.
Conclusions of paper
Humanity faces near certainty of eventual sea level rise of at least Eemian proportions, 15 5–9 m, if fossil fuel emissions continue on a business-as-usual course, e.g., IPCC scenario A1B that has CO2 ∼ 700 ppm in 2100 (Fig. S21). It is unlikely that coastal cities or low-lying areas such as Bangladesh, European lowlands, and large portions of the United States eastern coast and northeast China plains (Fig. S22) could be protected against such large sea level rise. 20 Rapid large sea level rise may begin sooner than generally assumed. Amplifying feedbacks, including slowdown of SMOC and cooling of the near-Antarctic ocean surface with increasing sea ice, may spur nonlinear growth of Antarctic ice sheet mass loss. Deep submarine valleys in West Antarctica and the Wilkes Basin of East Antarctica, each with access to ice amounting to several meters of sea level, provide gateways 25 to the ocean. If the Southern Ocean forcing (subsurface warming) of the Antarctic ice sheets continues to grow, it likely will become impossible to avoid sea level rise of several meters, with the largest uncertainty being how rapidly it will occur.
The Greenland ice sheet does not have as much ice subject to rapid nonlinear disintegration, so the speed at which it adds to 21st century sea level rise may be limited. However, even a slower Greenland ice sheet response is expected to be faster than carbon cycle or ocean thermal recovery times. Therefore, if climate forcing continues 5 to grow rapidly, amplifying feedbacks will assure large eventual mass loss. Also with present growth of freshwater injection from Greenland,
in combination with increasing North Atlantic precipitation, we already may be on the verge of substantial North Atlantic climate disruption. Storms conjoin with sea level rise to cause the most devastating coastal damage. 10 End-Eemian and projected 21st century conditions are similar in having warm tropics and increased freshwater injection. Our simulations imply increasing storm strengths for such situations, as a stronger temperature gradient caused by ice melt increases baroclinicity and provides energy for more severe weather events. A strengthened Bermuda High in the warm season increases prevailing northeasterlies that can help 15 account for stronger end-Eemian storms. Weakened cold season sea level pressure south of Greenland favors occurrence of atmospheric blocking that can increase wintertime Arctic cold air intrusions into northern midlatitudes. Effects of freshwater injection and resulting ocean stratification are occurring sooner in the real world than in our model. We suggest that this is an effect of excessive small 20 scale mixing in our model that limits stratification, a problem that may exist in other models (Hansen et al., 2011). We encourage similar simulations with other models, with special attention to the model’s ability to maintain realistic stratification and perturbations. This issue may be addressed in our model with increased vertical resolution, more accurate finite differencing method in ocean dynamics that reduces noise, and 25 use of a smaller background diffusivity. There are many other practical impacts of continued high fossil fuel emissions via climate change and ocean acidification, including irreplaceable loss of many species, as reviewed elsewhere (IPCC, 2013, 2014; Hansen et al., 2013a). However, sea level rise sets the lowest limit on allowable human-made climate forcing and CO2 , because of the extreme sensitivity of sea level to ocean warming and the devastating economic and humanitarian impacts of a multi-meter sea level rise. Ice sheet response time is shorter than the time for natural geologic processes to remove CO2 from the climate system, so there is no morally defensible excuse to delay phase-out of fossil fuel emissions as 5 rapidly as possible. We conclude that the 2 ◦C global warming “guardrail”, affirmed in the Copenhagen Accord (2009), does not provide safety, as such warming would likely yield sea level rise of several meters along with numerous other severely disruptive consequences for human society and ecosystems. The Eemian, less than 2 ◦C warmer than pre-industrial 10 Earth, itself provides a clear indication of the danger, even though the orbital drive for Eemian warming differed from today’s human-made climate forcing. Ongoing changes in the Southern Ocean, while global warming is less than 1 ◦C, provide a strong warning, as observed changes tend to confirm the mechanisms amplifying change. Predicted effects, such as cooling of the surface ocean around Antarctica, are occurring 15 even faster than modeled. Our finding of global cooling from ice melt calls into question whether global temperature is the most fundamental metric for global climate in the 21st century. The first order requirement to stabilize climate is to remove Earth’s energy imbalance, which is now about +0.6 W m−2 , more energy coming in than going out. If other forcings are unchanged, removing this imbalance requires reducing atmospheric CO2 20 from ∼ 400 to ∼ 350 ppm (Hansen et al., 2008, 2013a).
The message that the climate science delivers to policymakers, instead of defining a safe “guardrail”, is that fossil fuel CO2 emissions must be reduced as rapidly as practical. Hansen et al. (2013a) conclude that this implies a need for a rising carbon 25 fee or tax, an approach that has the potential to be near-global, as opposed to national caps or goals for emission reductions. Although a carbon fee is the sine qua non for phasing out emissions, the urgency of slowing emissions also implies other needs including widespread technical cooperation in clean energy technologies (Hansen et al., 2013a).

Europe’s Sentinel-2a satellite in full operation for October 2015 with some early images released

Artist's impression of Sentinel-2a

When Sentinel-2a is joined in orbit by Sentinel-2b, the revisit time to any land surface will be five days or less.

The Sentinel-2a satellite, which takes visible and infrared pictures of the Earth, was launched in June and is now undergoing a period of commissioning.The observer is the second dedicated mission to fly in the European Union’s Copernicus programme. This will see a multi-billion-euro series of satellite sensors put in orbit over the next few years. Sentinel-2a, however, will be the system’s backbone, producing a wide range of imaging products that will focus predominantly on the planet’s land surface. The European Space Agency, which led the development of the platform, released views on what to expect from cities and forests to glaciers and coral reefs.

Sentinel-2a is the European equivalent of America’s Landsat mission, which has been imaging the surface of the Earth for 40 years. The US satellite’s data is free and open, which has driven a multitude of applications. Sentinel’s data has been designed to be complementary, but the platform also represents a big jump in capability.Its imaging instrument will be sensitive across more bands of light (13 versus Landsat’s eight), allowing it to discern more information about the land beneath it; and Sentinel-2a will “carpet map” a much wider strip of ground (290km versus 185km).


Italy’s Venice lagoon, where image demonstrates the ability to monitor sediment transport in coastal waters.

Sentinel-2 image over southern Spain from 12 July 2015, and how information on inland water bodies can be isolated to help better detect changes. By providing measurements of water quality and detecting changes, Sentinel-2 can support the sustainable management of water resources.


Uluṟu-Kata Tjuṯa National Park (with Uluru, or Ayers Rock, on the right): Australia recently signed an agreement with Esa to host a mirror server for Sentinel-2a data

Irrigation fields

Centre-pivot irrigation fields in Saudi Arabia: A false colour image that highlights the water-fed vegetation in the desert.

Glaciers in western Greenland

Greenland’s glaciers

Corals off Saudi Arabia

Corals off Saudi Arabia: Although primarily a mission to study land surfaces, Sentinel-2a will also return data on coastal waters.


Berlin is one of Europe’s greenest capitals;  false colouring highlights vegetation in red


Naples and Mount Vesuvius: Sentinel data will track environmental change but also inform and help enforce EU policy.

Further information

UN Post-2015 Development Agenda: Addis Ababa Action Agenda from Third International Conference on Financing for Development

By Magdalena A K Muir, Climate Editor

post2015Third International Conference on Financing for Development

The UN Post-2015 Development Agenda is proceeding to unfold, including a focus on the important issue of financing the UN Sustainable Development Goals.  The United Nations General Assembly recently endorsed the new global action agenda for financing sustainable development, or the Addis Ababa Action Agenda, from the Third International Conference on Financing for Development.

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon welcomed the Agenda as a major step that firmly puts the world on the path to a more prosperous, just and sustainable world. General Assembly President Sam Kutesa indicated that the action demonstrates collective commitment towards eradicating poverty, achieving sustainable development and building a better future for all, and urged UN Member States to implement the Addis Ababa Action Agenda .

The  Agenda contains a series of measures to overhaul global finance practices and generate investments for economic, social and environmental challenges. Building on the outcomes of previous development financing conferences held in Monterrey, Mexico, and in Doha, Qatar, the Action Agenda also addresses all sources of finance, and covers cooperation on a range of issues including technology, science, innovation, trade and capacity building.

In his statement to the Assembly, Mr. Ban said by endorsing the Addis Ababa Action Agenda, we launch a new era of cooperation and global partnership. This development can be the foundation for success at the UN summit to adopt the UN post-2015 development agenda, in New York this September, and at the Conference of Parties of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), known informally as COP 21, in Paris in December.

Civil society organizations have responded to the Addis Ababa Action Agenda (AAAA) of the Third International Conference on Financing for Development (FfD3), and have released responses and summaries to the draft outcome document for the UN summit for the adoption of the post-2015 development agenda. Responses address,areas of consensus and disagreement on the post-2015 draft; recommendations on improving text related to inequality, climate change, energy, land and other topics; data challenges; the translation of discourse into policy; education; and the role of business.

Further information


Outcome Document  Addis Ababa Action Agenda (16 July 2015)

Civil Society CSO FfD Forum Declaration (12 July 2015)

Business Sector International Business Forum Summary (14 July 2015)

IISD Article

Civil Society Blogs:

Greenhill Blog

GPW Blog

ODI Executive Director Blog 

Development Initiatives Blog

Oxfam Recommendations

SDG Compass

[IASS Event Website

IASS Website

ChildRightNow Website

The Eye on Earth Summit (October 6 to 8, Abu Dhabi), The Oceans & Blue Carbon Special Initiative , and Data Innovation Challenges

By Magdalena A K Muir, Climate Editor

Following the 2011 inaugural Summit, the Eye on Earth 2015  promotes dialogue and drives international action that revolutionises the way collect, access, share and use data and information for real-world change. The 2015 summit will seek to foster a culture of collaboration through a network committed to achieving scalable impact for a sustainable future. Based on their focus on the Oceans and Blue Carbon initiative, the 2015 Summit is very relevant for coastal and marine areas.

The Oceans & Blue Carbon Initiative

  • Uses innovative technologies and Citizen Science techniques to develop dynamic habitat mapping and validation and upload tools to deliver timely, fit-for purpose, reliable and interoperable spatial datasets for mangroves, saltmarshes and sea grasses;
  • Develops internationally approved methodologies and data standards to meet the Inter-Governmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) requirements for transparent, complete, consistent, comparable and accurate data;
  • Builds user communities, networks and local capacities to maximise the uptake of methodologies, data interoperability, and implementation and interpretation of carbon and ecosystem service assessments for management planning and knowledge sharing;
  • Integrates work across on-going and future activities in Blue Carbon on a global scale.
  • Increases usage of ecosystem based approached in coastal management and conservation, which maximise climate change mitigation and adaptation potential;
  • Reduces uncertainties and risk in trade-offs between development and conservation, particularly with respect to vulnerable populations; and
  • Develops greater local capacity to use market-based mechanisms as a source of sustainable financing for coastal management and conservation.

Stakeholders of the Oceans & Blue Carbon initiative include: Environment Agency – Abu Dhabi (EAD), Abu Dhabi Global Environmental Data Initiative (AGEDI), Global Environment Fund (GEF), United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), UNEP Global Resource Information Database (GRID) – Arendal, World Bank, Blue Ventures, Ecological Society of America (ESA), United States Geological Survey (USGS), International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), Kenya Marine and Fisheries Research Institute (KMFRI), Forest Trends, Open Oceans Global (OOG) and Conservation International.

Data Innovation Challenges

The organizers of the Eye on Earth Summit have  three data innovation challenges for which the finalists will have the opportunity to present their ideas at the Summit in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates (UAE). The three competitions launched are the Data Innovation Showcase, Data Visualization Challenge and Blogging Competition, all of which support the Summit in its focus on using data to secure future for coasts, oceans and the planet..

Under the Innovation Showcase, citizen scientists are invited to create projects that use open data to: better manage food distribution and consumption, and reduce waste; support the health of forest ecosystems; and benefit urban biodiversity. According to the competition organizers, possible project ideas range from crowdsourcing data for tree inventories to creating a platform for getting excess food to people in need. Three finalists will be selected from this competition to present their work at the Summit, where a winner will be chosen.

Artists, designers and others interested in the creative display of data are invited to take part in the Visualization Challenge, which requires entrants to build visual interpretations of the social and economic impacts of poor air quality, oceanic warming and natural disasters. Participants can use images, animations, infographics, three-dimensional (3-D) models, computer simulations, interactive maps and diagrams, and other types of visualizations. One finalist will be selected to attend the Summit.

The Blogging Competition calls on writers and bloggers to submit a piece under the theme ‘A Better World through Knowledge and Information.’ The submissions are requested to be aimed at catalyzing the ‘data revolution’ by addressing how to improve data availability for a more sustainable future and healthier planet. The winner will report live from the Summit as the ‘Official Eye on Earth Summit 2015 Blogger.’ The selected finalists will have their airfare and lodging covered so they may participate in the Summit, which will take place on 6-8 October 2015, in Abu Dhabi, UAE.

Further information:

Eye On Earth

Renegade Fishing Trawler Considered the World’s Worst Poacher Stalked for 10,000 Miles by Sea Shepherd Ships

The Thunder, shadowed by the Bob Barker and the Sam Simon in the Sea Shepherd, in February 2015.

As the Thunder, a trawler considered the world’s most notorious fish poacher, began sliding under the sea a couple of hundred miles south of Nigeria, three men scrambled aboard to gather evidence of its crimes. In bumpy footage from their helmet cameras, they can be seen grabbing everything they can over the next 37 minutes — the captain’s logbooks, a laptop computer, charts and a slippery 200-pound fish. The video shows the fishing hold about a quarter full with catch and the Thunder’s engine room almost submerged in murky water. “There is no way to stop it sinking,” the men radioed back to the Bob Barker, which was waiting nearby. Soon after they climbed off, the Thunder vanished below.

It was an unexpected end to an extraordinary chase. For 110 days and more than 10,000 nautical miles across two seas and three oceans, the Bob Barker and a companion ship, both operated by the environmental organization Sea Shepherd, had trailed the trawler, with the three captains close enough to watch one another’s cigarette breaks and on-deck workout routines. In an epic game of cat-and-mouse, the ships maneuvered through an obstacle course of giant ice floes, endured a cyclone-like storm, faced clashes between opposing crews and nearly collided in what became the longest pursuit of an illegal fishing vessel in history.

The Thunder in the moments before it was swallowed by the ocean. Sea Shepherd crew members found signs that it had been intentionally scuttled.

Route from Left to Right

Further Information: NY Times Story 

European Environment Agency and the European Space Agency sign Memorandum of Understanding for Earth Observation and the Environment

Northwest Italy and southern France

The European Environment Agency (EEA) and the European Space Agency (ESA) signed a Memorandum of Understanding today, which sets out common objectives and areas of cooperation in the field of Earth observation and the environment over the coming years. Satellite data, such as that provided by the ESA, is a key component of environmental knowledge, improving environmental monitoring, leading to more evidence based policy and better environmental management.

The Memorandum of Understanding sets objectives for the exchange of scientific expertise and technical information between the agencies, providing the basis for mutual access to data and the promotion of joint activities. One new activity concerns the use of Sentinel-2A satellite data for the Copernicus Land Monitoring Service, which provides information on land cover and land change use as well as on variables related to vegetation and the water cycle.

Sentinel-2A, which was launched on 23 June 2015, is the main provider of satellite data for the Copernicus Land Monitoring Service, which is coordinated by the EEA. Sentinel-2A’s spatial resolution and geographical coverage are designed such that the data it collects is optimal input for the envisaged regular Land Monitoring Service.

The EEA will benefit from this data for its regular state of the environment reporting, and for applications that monitor Europe’s changing urban environment, the pressures and impacts on a wide range of habitats, the increasing fragmentation of the European landscape and climate change impacts.

Further information: