UCCRTF backs training for improved early flood warning in Central Viet Nam

UCCRTF backs training for improved early flood warning in Central Viet Nam

By Trang Dinh and Bas Stengs

Modernizing flood forecasting and warning often comes with the requirements of knowledge transfer and expertise enhancement for forecasters, decision makers, and the residents in local communities. To ensure that the Flood Forecasting and Warning System that is being built for Hoi An city and VGTB Basin — a major catchment in Viet Nam—is able to operate effectively, an extensive collaborative modelling and training programme was held from July 2019 to February 2020, with support from the Urban Climate Change Resilience Trust Fund (UCCRTF).

The on-the-job training program was held in Tam Ky, Quang Nam, the mid-central province of Vietnam under ADB Grant 0462-VIE[1]: Urban Environment and Climate Change Adaptation Project. Key deliverables of the project are: 

  1.  a Flood Forecasting and Warning System (FFWS);
  2. supporting the Provincial Hydrological and Meteorological Centre;
  3. a Decision Support System (DSS); and,
  4.  supporting the Provincial Steering Committee for Disaster Prevention, Search and Rescue (PSCDPSR).​
Officers of Standing Office of Provincial Steering Committee for Natural Disasters Prevention, Search and Rescue participating in the Decision Support System training, February/2020, in Tam Ky, Quang Nam Province. Credit to Dang Thi Kim Nhung, Emergency communication & Management Specialist of Vietnam Institute of Water Resources Planning.

The project, underway since March 2018, is led by a consortium of Deltares (Netherlands), HaskoningDHV Nederland B.V. (Netherlands), SUEZ Consulting (SAFEGE) (France) and the Institute for Water Resources Planning (Vietnam).  The FFWS and DSS for the Vu Gia-Thu Bon river system, was considered to be one of the most urgent (non-structural) project measures. The FFWS system is designed to improve the procedures for flood warning and timely evacuation, while the DSS enables the analysis of both structural and non-structural measures regarding flood management, and the study of water shortage problems and salinity intrusion during dry periods.

The project applied a state-of-art flood early warning system, called “Delft FEWS” – an open, flexible, free-of-charge software package developed by Deltares, to the Vu Gia Thu Bon river basin. This was paired with an upgraded MIKE river basin modelling package and a new Delft3D marine model to create an integrated FFWS.

​Training to ensure long term sustainability

The goal of the training is to ensure the long-term sustainability of the FFWS, by building the capabilities of system developers and operators. A collaborative approach was deployed through a series of technical on-the-job training sessions, allowing participants to gain knowledge and know how to operate and maintain the FFWS and DSS in the future. The specific objective of the technical working and training sessions was to train the staff in using the calibrated models and operate the FFWS and DSS, and to teach them the process of building, calibrating and maintaining the systems.

​One participant, Mr. Truong Xuan Ty, Chief of Standing Office of the Provincial Steering Committee for Disaster Prevention, Search and Rescue, said “we currently don’t use any forecasting software. If we can better understand the flood forecasting and flood warning models, by using the FFWS+DSS, this will greatly improve the efficiency of the decision making and will speed up the warnings to the communities”.

​A total of nine training sessions were delivered to end users such as the Provincial Hydro-Met Centre (PHMC), the Mid-Central Regional Hydro-Met Centre (RHMC) and the Provincial Steering Committee for Disaster Prevention, Search & Rescue (PSCDPSR). The training was divided into two main components: (i) Catchment and river model development and (ii) Delft-FEWS flood early warning system configuration and operation.

​The on-the-job training was organized at the end users’ location in Tam Ky city, Quang Nam province. Priority was given to the group of potential operators: forecasters from PHMC and RHMC and technical officers from PSCDPSR, by delivering intensive instructions and knowledge ensuring as much interaction as possible between trainers and trainees. Characteristics of the training sessions included: 

  • Each technical session introduced a specific topic providing expertise on applicable tools, software, features, required data, know-how to self-configure and operate the models through various practical exercises.
  • Demo versions pre-configured for the project were provided for demonstration and practice during and after each session.  
  • The demo versions were updated to reflect comments and requests from end users during and after each session. Agile work plans for the following sessions were arranged together with the end-users at the end of each session, to incorporate the user needs as much as possible.

​The training was designed and lead international consultants. Because most local officers are not fluent in English, language barriers were a considerable challenge. To overcome this, a Vietnamese user interface was developed for both software systems and the training was delivered in Vietnamese by local trainers.

​With the final training session held in February this year, a recap of the complete training was done with lots of room for interaction, by means of a Q&A session and a variety of user-selected practical exercises, such as the Delft-FEWS basic configuration and river catchment model set-up. The fact that most exercises were completed with little or no support from the trainers proved that the local skills on modelling, flood forecasting and warning had significantly improved through the concept of “learning by doing”. 

​For further information about the project and the training, please contact the authors: Bas Stengs ( or Trang Dinh (

This article was originally posted on the Asian Development Bank Livable Cities Blog.
Cover image by Ngocnb at Vietnamese Wikipedia
How banks are trying to capture the green transition

How banks are trying to capture the green transition

By Tomaso Ferrando and Daniel Tischer

Private sector banks in the UK should have a central role in financing climate action and supporting a just transition to a low carbon economy. That’s according to a new report from the Grantham Research Institute at the London School of Economics.

Framed as a strategic opportunity that climate change represents for investors, the report identifies four specific reasons why banks should support the just transition. It would reinforce trust after the financial crisis; it would demonstrate leadership; it would reduce their exposure to material climate risks; and it would expand their customer base by creating demand for new services and products.

The report is not alone in its attempt to put banking and finance at the centre of a green and just transition. Similar arguments are presented by the World Bank, by the European Union, and by many national task forces on financing the transition, including the UK’s.

In all these cases, banks and financial markets are presented as essential allies in the green and just transition. At the same time, the climate emergency is described as a chance that finance cannot miss. Not because of the legal duties that arise from international conventions and the national framework, but because banking the green transition could help reestablish public legitimacy, innovate and guarantee future cashflow.

Twelve years after the financial crisis, we may be aware that banks and finance were responsible for the intensification of climate change and the exacerbation of inequality, but such reports say our future is still inexorably in their hands.

Is there no alternative to climate finance?

Four decades on from British prime minister Margaret Thatcher’s infamous motto that There Is No Alternative to the rule of the market, the relationship between financial capital and the green and just transition is presented as universal and inevitable. However, a vision of the future is a political construction whose strength and content depend on who is shaping it, the depth of their networks and their capacity transform a vision into reality.

Nick Beer / shutterstock
UK banks haven’t recovered their reputation since the financial crisis.

In the case of climate finance, it seems that a very limited number of people and institutions have been strategically occupying key spaces in the public debate and contributed to the reproduction of this monotone vision. In our ongoing research we are mapping various groups involved in green financial policymaking: the EU’s High-Level Expert Group on Sustainable Finance and its Technical Expert Group on Sustainable Finance, the UK Green Finance Task Force, the participants to the 2018 and 2019 Green Finance Summits in London and the authors behind publications like the LSE’s Banking on a Just Transition report.

Across these networks, key positions are occupied by current and former private industry leaders. Having done well out of the status quo, their trajectories and profiles denote a clear orientation in favour of deregulation and a strong private sector.

Often, the same people and organisations operate across networks and influence both regional and national conversations. Others are hubs that occupy a pivotal role in the construction of the network and in the predisposition of the spaces and guidelines for dialogue and policy making. This is the case, for example, of the Climate Bond Initiative (CBI), a relatively young international NGO headquartered in London whose sole mission is to “mobilise the largest capital market of all, the [US]$100 trillion bond market, for climate change solutions”. Characterised by a strong pro-private finance attitude, CBI proposes policy actions that are infused by the inevitability of aligning the interests of the finance industry with those of the planet.

Let’s unbank the green and just transition

COVID-19 has emphasised the socio-economic fragility of global financial capitalism and represents the shock that may lead to an acceleration of political processes. While corporate giants are declaring bankruptcy and millions are losing their jobs, governments in Europe and across the global north continue to pump trillions into rescuing and relaunching the economy in the name of the green recovery.

Political debate and positioning will decide whether these public funds will be spent on bailouts or public investments, on tax breaks for the 1% or provision of essential services, or whether the focus will be on green growth or climate justice. But private finance is already capturing this debate and may become a key beneficiary. Getting a green and just transition does not only depend on the voices that are heard, but also those that are silenced.

Intellectual and political elites on the side of the banks are making it harder to have a serious discussion about addressing climate change. NGOs and campaign groups are participating, but only if they share the premises and objectives of the financial sector.

This crowds out more transformative voices from civil society and the academy, and establishes a false public narrative of agreed actions despite the numerous voices outside of this club. And it also normalises the priority of financial market activities, putting profit before people and planet.

The current crisis is an opportunity to rethink what a green and just transition would entail. We must continue to question the role of finance rather than taking it for granted and ensure that the “green and just transition” becomes precisely that: green and just, rather than another source of profits for banks and the 1%.

This article was originally posted on The Conversation.
Cover Photo by sergio souza on Unsplash
Arctic Ocean is set for more turbulent future

Arctic Ocean is set for more turbulent future

By Tim Radford

The Arctic Ocean is about to become more violent, with higher storm waves and higher frequency, across a wide region.

The Arctic Ocean is changing, and changing fast. By the century’s end, the maximum height of storm waves in the polar seas could have risen by twice or even three times the present height.

According to new research, wave heights could increase by two metres and coastal floods could become four times, or even 10 times, as frequent.

And a separate study has found that even the character of the water in the ocean is changing: warm salty water from the Atlantic is weakening the ice cover at an accelerating rate, but providing more nutrients for Arctic life, while extra river water from the Pacific has made the American-Asian part of the Arctic Ocean less likely to mix, and less biologically productive.

The Arctic is warming at twice the rate of the planet as a whole: the ice cover has been thinning and retreating for decades. And temperatures keep on rising.

One Siberian town recorded a temperature of 38°C in June, and the region has been hit by devastating forest fires.

“In many respects, the Arctic Ocean now looks like a new ocean”

And as the oceans warm, winds become more powerful and the ocean waves respond, with prospects of ever-greater hazard for shipping and coastal settlements.

Extreme wave events that once occurred in the Arctic at average intervals of once every 20 years could by the end of the century happen every two to five years, according a study in the Journal of Geophysical Research: Oceans.

“It increases the risk of flooding and erosion. It increases drastically almost everywhere”, said Mercè Casas-Prat, a researcher with Environment and Climate Change Canada. “This can have a direct impact on communities that live close to the shoreline.”

She and a colleague used computer simulations and a range of climate predictions to work out what will happen to those ocean surfaces not covered by ice as the seas warm in response to greenhouse gas emissions from fossil fuel combustion.

They found that almost everywhere in the Arctic would experience greater wave height. The hardest-hit would be the Greenland Sea, bounded by the largest body of ice in the northern hemisphere, and the Svalbard Archipelago.

More salty water

Maximum annual wave heights could increase by as much as six metres.
“At the end of the century, the maximum will on average come later in the year and also be more extreme,” Dr Casas-Prat said.

The Arctic Ocean covers only about 3% of the planet’s surface, but it is vulnerable to change in ocean regions much nearer the Equator. US and Scandinavian scientists report in the journal Frontiers in Marine Science that they looked at 37 years of direct observation and measurement to find that not only are Arctic waters changing: they are changing in different ways.

Flows of increasingly warm salty water from the Atlantic have begun to mix at depth, weaken sea ice and bring deeper, nutrient-rich water to the surface. At the other entrance to the partly landlocked expanse of water, an increasing flow from rivers has begun to make the separation of surface and deep layers even more pronounced.

This limits the movement of nutrients to the surface, protentially making that part of the sea less biologically rich. Many marine creatures from low latitudes are moving north, in some cases replacing local species. The changes could affect fisheries, tourism, navigation and of course the people who live in the Arctic.

“In many respects, the Arctic Ocean now looks like a new ocean,” said Igor Polyakov, an oceanographer at the University of Fairbanks, Alaska, who led the research. − Climate News Network

This article was originally posted on the Climate News Network.
Cover photo: Tuktoyaktuk in Canada’s Northwest Territories,  August 2019: Waves are growing higher and fiercer. Image: By Weronika Murray
WMO issue new warning as earth approaches 1.5˚C

WMO issue new warning as earth approaches 1.5˚C

By Lydia Messling

Last week, the World Meteorological Organisation (WMO) announced that there was around a 20% chance that one of the next five years will be at least 1.5 degrees warmer than pre-industrial levels. The earth’s average temperature is already over 1 degree warmer than pre-industrial levels, and continues to rise as more greenhouse gas emissions are released into the atmosphere. The WMO forecast is significant as, in November 2016, countries signed the Paris Agreement, which included a commitment to keep warming “to well below 2°C and pursue efforts to limit it to 1.5°C”.

The WMO’s finding is especially concerning as last year they issued a similar forecast which estimated the chance of exceeding 1.5 degrees in five years to be just 10%. This suggests that the world is still failing to tackle climate change with sufficient urgency and casts further doubt on the possibility of hitting the 1.5-degree target. The clear implication of this is that we must prepare for a highly unstable climate in a world where average temperatures are well above the 1.5- and 2-degree temperature targets.

One swallow does not a summer make

So does the latest WMO forecast mean we’ll miss the Paris Agreement’s 1.5-degree target? Whilst still a cause for concern, even if one of the next five years surpassed 1.5 degrees, we would not have breached the Paris Agreement’s target, because this is calculated as a 30-year moving average.

It’s a bit like measuring your running speed. The qualify time for the men’s marathon in the Tokyo Olympics is 2 hours, 11 minutes, and 30 seconds. That’s an average of about 5 minutes per mile. Just because you managed to run a sub-5-minute mile on your morning run does not necessarily mean that you are now ready to go for gold at the Olympics (no matter how much Strava kudos your friends give you). It could have been a fast mile for a number of reasons. Maybe it was downhill, the wind was behind you, or you were only ever running one single mile full pelt before collapsing. To think you could now run that 5-minute mile 25.219 more times, and keep that pace, might seem a bit of a stretch. Instead, in order to establish your long-term trend, you need to compare your averaged speed across a much longer distance, much closer to a marathon length, in order to fairly judge your marathon potential. One mile is not a fair judge.

The same is true here. Whilst there’s a 20% chance we might hit an annual average of 1.5 degrees warmer in the next 5 years, this is quite different to stating that we’ve crossed the threshold of the Paris Agreement, as this threshold is determined by a 30-year average. This is so that the effects of natural variability can be accounted for. For example, 2015 and 2016 were both affected by El Niño, which meant the underlying human-caused warming was amplified. Indeed, the WMO report says that there is only a small chance – 3% – that the next five-year average will exceed 1.5 degrees.

A worrying direction of travel

In 2020, the Arctic is likely to have warmed by more than twice as much as the global mean. There are also still impacts of climate change to be felt between now and 2024. In 2020, many parts of South America, southern Africa, and Australia are likely to be dryer than the recent past. Between now and 2024, high latitude regions and the Sahel are likely to be wetter. Sea-level pressure anomalies suggest that the northern North Atlantic region could have stronger westerly winds, resulting in western Europe experiencing more storms.

A single year that is 1.5 degrees warmer than pre-industrial levels is not enough to surpass the 1.5-degree threshold as described by the Paris Agreement, but it is an indicator that it is within reach. There is still a lot of climate change to be experienced between now and the Paris Agreement target of 1.5 degrees of warming – more than enough to motivate us in ensuring we do not exceed it. However, it remains unlikely that collectively we will act fast enough to reduce our emissions meet the target. At the moment, we are on track for qualifying for a much warmer world, with an unstable climate unlike anything experienced in human history.

Cover photo by ActionVance on Unsplash.
Salvador, Brazil: How to Decrease Gender Inequality in the Context of Covid-19

Salvador, Brazil: How to Decrease Gender Inequality in the Context of Covid-19

Coronavirus Speaker Series: Sharing Knowledge to Respond with Resilience is a weekly session organised by the Global Resilient Cities Network and the World Bank as a knowledge sharing session for cities in response to the rapidly evolving COVID-19 situation.

Daniela Ribeiro Guarieiro, Deputy Chief Resilience Officer, Municipality of Salvador (Brazil)

Daniela currently holds the position of Resilience Manager at the Municipality of Salvador, having participated actively in the development and implementation of Salvador’s Resilience Strategy, and actively participates in the Global Network of Resilient Cities. She is currently involved with the elaboration of the Climate Change Mitigation and Adaptation Plan of Salvador, Circular Economy initiatives in the city, and the resilient challenge to empower women entrepreneurship. She has an MSc in Public and Urban Policies from the University of Glasgow, UK, and a specialisation in Urban Economics and Public Management at PUC-SP, Brazil.

Download presentation

Watch video

Cover photo of Salvador, Brazil from Wikimedia Commons.
This presentation was originally posted on the Medium.
National Adaptation Plans – An entrypoint for ecosystem-based adaptation

National Adaptation Plans – An entrypoint for ecosystem-based adaptation

This briefing note provides practical information on the planning and implementation of ecosystem-based adaptation (EbA) approaches in the agriculture sector as part of national adaptation planning processes. It presents entry points for mainstreaming EbA throughout the four elements of the National Adaptation Plans (NAP) formulation process, as defined by the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) Least Developed Countries Group.

The brief describes how planning and implementing EbA in the agriculture sectors as part of the NAPs process can make key linkages between increasing resilience of sustainable agricultural livelihoods and ecosystem management and conservation. This brief is intended for national planners and decision-makers working on climate change adaptation and NAP formulation and implementation, including UNFCCC focal points, national designated authorities of the Green Climate Fund (GCF), and climate financing agencies, donor agencies, and other development practitioners.

The key messages of this brief are:

  1. Climate change poses medium- to long-term risks to both ecosystems and ecosystem-dependent livelihoods, and calls for the adoption of adaptation actions that can address both aspects in an integrated manner;
  2. One of the ways that EbA can contribute to increasing resilience of agricultural livelihoods and ensuring food security in a more coherent way is by integrating related practices throughout the NAP process;
  3. EbA can be part of NAP planning objectives as well as a means for implementation;
  4. Integrating EbA in NAPs, focusing on agriculture sectors, should build on and use approaches that are already tested in the fields of climate-smart agriculture, agroecology, sustainable natural resource management, […];
  5. The barriers to mainstreaming EbA into NAPs include lack of evidence-based knowledge on EbA, including evidence-based on robust monitoring system, […];
  6. These barriers can be addressed by improving cross-sectoral coordination; strengthening capacities and knowledge on the social and economic benefits and trade-offs of EbA, […].

Read the full briefing note here.

This article was published on Prevention Web.
Cover photo by Naseem Bura on Unsplash.

Delivering a virtual training course on GCF project requirements in Belize

Delivering a virtual training course on GCF project requirements in Belize

Acclimatise’s Climate Finance team, in partnership with the Caribbean Community Climate Change Center (CCCCC), has designed and launched a five-week virtual training course on GCF project requirements as part of Belize’s Green Climate Fund (GCF) Readiness 2 Support – “Building Capacity for Direct Access to Climate Finance”. One of the objectives of this Readiness support is to strengthen the capacity of Belize’s National Designated Authority (NDA) – the Ministry of Economic Development (MED) – to effectively mobilise, manage and monitor climate finance with a view to achieving national development and climate change priorities.

This course was specifically tailored to members of Belize’s National Climate Change Committee (BNCCC) which is the committee that sits under the NDA, and designed so they can perform their GCF responsibilities, which includes appraising projects received from project developers and providing constructive feedback to national and international stakeholders.

About the course

The course was developed by Acclimatise’s Virginie Fayolle, Caroline Fouvet and Maya Dhanjal, with facilitations support from in-country expert Ann Gordon. Since commencing the course on 29th June 2020, we have had a successful first three weeks of the course which will continue until 7th August 2020. Overall, the course equips BNCCC members to:

  1. Understand GCF project requirements and what a good GCF project looks like;
  2. Grasp key GCF or general project preparation concepts, such as climate rationale, theory of change, logical framework, paradigm shift, and gender mainstreaming;
  3. Align a project with the GCF’s six investment criteria to appraise concept notes; and
  4. Provide constructive feedback on GCF concept notes received by the Belize’s NDA.

Adapting to a post-pandemic world

This training was originally designed for a face-to-face format where our instructors would travel to Belize to deliver it over a 2-week period. However, in response to travel restrictions due to coronavirus, Acclimatise adapted the format into a virtual training, following a human-centric design approach. This conversion required an understanding of the constraints faced by both parties including availability of and access to technology, using web-based products that allowed for collaboration and real-time communication, and lastly, a sense of what life is now like for BNCCC members who may be working from home, have children to home-school or dependents to take care of, and have religious observances to attend to.

Through a set of interactive plenary presentations from guest speakers, recorded videos that are accessible at participants’ own pace, as well as quizzes and live calls with featured polls to gauge participant knowledge, understanding and comfortability with the topic, the training course has been successfully re-designed for participants into a blended learning classroom where we are currently holding some “live-on-air” events as well as asynchronous activities so participants could tackle the content at their own pace. The live sessions in particular brought a range of participants together to exchange and share meaningful experiences across a broad group of stakeholders, including multiple regional government agencies and private sector organisations.

Future trainings on GCF project requirements under Readiness Support

Acclimatise has a wealth of experience designing and executing training services for clients looking to access, manage and utilise funding from the GCF. Although typically done in a face-to-face format, Acclimatise has now successfully approached adapting this training into a virtual format that maximises the potential of the participants to absorb knowledge and strengthen their success of securing funding from the GCF.

Some topics covered in the training include:

  1. Climate Change in Belize and Belize’s relevant climate-related national priorities – two presentations by Colin Mattis, Deputy Climate Change Officer at NCCO
  2. Challenges and opportunities for demonstrating the climate rationale of a GCF project and related data needs – a panel discussion with Olivia Avilez from Belize Sugar Industries, Ryan Zuniga from CCCCC and Ronald Gordon from National Meteorological Services
  3. The relevance of adaptation in Belize: the business perspective – a presentation by Olivia Avilez at Belize Sugar Industries

You can find more information about how Acclimatise can help you mobilise, catalyse, and leverage public and private capital to deliver your climate investment strategies and financing for climate-resilience solutions on our website.

If you are interested in our training offering on the topic,  contact: Ms. Virginie Fayolle

Cover photo of Belize flag from Wikimedia Commons.
Acclimatise CEO to moderate an EO4SD-led panel discussion as part of the World Bank’s Innovate4Climate virtual conference

Acclimatise CEO to moderate an EO4SD-led panel discussion as part of the World Bank’s Innovate4Climate virtual conference

On 29th July at 10:00 EDT, Acclimatise CEO John Firth will be moderating an EO4SD-led panel discussion as part of the World Bank’s Innovate4Climate virtual conference. This will take stock of the use of Earth Observation (EO) data in climate resilience, and look to the future in regards to what development practitioners will find useful next in terms of EO products and services.

Objectives include:

  • Introduce and encourage the use of earth observation (EO) products and services for the purposes of building climate resilience, particularly in a development setting
  • Catalyse the innovative deployment EO products and services across the project life cycle and across a range of decision-making contexts, from finance mobilisation to monitoring and evaluation
  • Enable our audience to learn about cost-effective EO climate data and platforms, and how these can be accessed and used.

Confirmed speakers include:

  • Samantha Burgess (Copernicus Climate Change Service)
  • Francois Kayitakire (African Risk Capacity)
  • Ana Bucher (World Bank Group)

Register for the webinar here.

Antarctic melting could bring a much hotter future

Antarctic melting could bring a much hotter future

By Tim Radford

Antarctic melting can force sea ice retreat of 50 metres daily. CO2 levels are at their highest for 23 million years. Learn from the past.

Antarctic melting starts with dramatic speed. Ice shelves during the sudden warm spell at the close of the last Ice Age retreated at up to 50 metres a day.

This finding is not based on climate simulations generated by computer algorithms. It is based on direct evidence left 12,000 years ago on the Antarctic sea floor by retreating ice.

The finding is an indirect indicator of how warm things could get – and how high sea levels could rise – as humans burn ever more fossil fuels and raise atmospheric greenhouse gas levels to ever higher ratios.

And as if to highlight the approaching climate catastrophe, a second and separate study finds that the measure of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere now is not just higher than at any time in human history or at any interval in the Ice Ages. It is the highest for at least 23 million years.

“Should climate change continue to weaken the ice shelves in the coming decades, we could see similar rates of retreat, with profound implications for global sea level rise”

British scientists report in the journal Science that they used an autonomous underwater vehicle (AUV), cruising at depth in the Weddell Sea, to read the pattern of the past preserved in ridges of the Antarctic seabed.

The original push for the expedition had been to search for the ship Endurance, commanded by the polar explorer Ernest Shackleton on his doomed voyage in 1914. The loss of the ship, crushed in the polar ice, and the rescue of his crew became one of the epic stories of maritime history.

The researchers did not find Endurance. But they did find an enduring record of past ice retreat.

Sea ice skirts about 75% of the continent’s coastline: when it melts it makes no difference to sea levels, but while it remains frozen it does serve the purpose of buttressing glacial flow from the high Antarctic interior. Brushed by increasingly warm air each summer, and swept by slowly warming ocean currents all year round, the ice shelves are thinning and retreating.

Tell-tale line

Underneath the ice, the research team’s robot submarine spotted wave-like ridges, each about a metre high and 20 to 25 metres apart: ridges formed at what had once been the grounding line – the point at which a grounded ice sheet starts to float, and evidence of ice rising and falling with the tides.

There are twelve hours between high tide and low, so by measuring the distance between the ridges, scientists could measure the pace of retreat at the end of the last Ice Age. It is estimated at 40 to 50 metres a day.

Right now, the fastest retreat measured from grounding lines in Antarctica is only about 1.6 kms a year. The implication is that it could get a lot faster.

“Should climate change continue to weaken the ice shelves in the coming decades, we could see similar rates of retreat, with profound implications for global sea level rise,” said Julian Dowdeswell, director of the Scott Polar Research Institute in Cambridge, who led the research.

Faster change ahead

Past warm periods are associated only with relatively modest rises in atmospheric carbon dioxide. Right now, researchers have repeatedly confirmed that the present increasingly rapid rise is the highest in the last 800,000 years.

Now a team from the US and Norway report in the journal Geology that they have measured past atmospheric carbon levels in fossil plants to establish that present day carbon levels are higher currently than at any time in the last 23 million years.

This means that – unless there are drastic steps to contain global warming – the retreat will become increasingly more rapid, and the rate of glacial flow towards the sea ever faster.

Were all the ice in Antarctica to melt, sea levels would rise by about 60 metres, completely submerging many of the world’s great cities. 

This article was originally posted on the Climate News Network.
Cover photo: View from Agulhas II, the vessel from which the AUVs were deployed.Courtesy of Julian Dowdeswell
Video: Introducing Acclimatise’s Special guidance report ‘Understanding Physical Climate Risks and Opportunities’

Video: Introducing Acclimatise’s Special guidance report ‘Understanding Physical Climate Risks and Opportunities’

Acclimatise’s special guidance report “Understanding Physical Climate Risks and Opportunities” is designed to help investors assess physical climate risk assessments to their portfolios.

Developed with the Institutional Investors Group on Climate Change (IIGCC), the guidance collates good practice for physical risk assessments across the stages of a typical risk assessment process. The guidance was published in June 2020. It was developed in close conjunction with IIGCC staff, leading investors, and Dr Rory Sullivan of Chronos Sustainability.

In this video, report author and Acclimatise consultant Robin Hamaker-Taylor talks through what the report covers.

Download the full guidance here.