Building Partnerships for Ocean Health in Southern California

Building Partnerships for Ocean Health in Southern California is a conference in the “Toward a Sustainable 21st Century Series”, presented May 8, 2015, at the Beckman Center for the National Academies, at UC Irvine.

Morning Session:  Our Changing Ocean

Unfortunately, I arrived late and missed the Welcome by Al Bennett, Vice Provost.

Global Change in the Oceans

I also missed the introduction by

Adam Martiny: UCI Earth System Science Department (ESS) and Director of the UCI OCEANS Initiative.

Keith Moore: ESS

He used the CESM community climate model to project to the future.

The RCP 8.5 projection has an increased average solar radiation of 8.5 Watts per square meter at the year 2100.  This is the projection with the “business as usual” increase of CO2.

In the projection RCP 4.5, CO2 turns over by 2050 and stabilizes by 2100.

The sea surface temperature rise in RCP 8.5 is 4 degrees C.

Most of the heat of increased solar radiation or “forcing” goes into the ocean, which has only increased it temperature by 0.2 degrees C since the heat travels downward in the ocean, and has now spread to around 700 meters, or about a half of a mile.  (The Sea Surface World Temperature average (SST) has risen about 0.7 degrees C.  The land temperature has risen even more.)

He showed that ocean photosynthesis decreases 5.7% in RCP 8.5 after a century.

Sinking carbon in the ocean, which is part of the ocean’s absorption of a third of new CO2, decreases by 13% in RCP 8.5.  This depends on location in the ocean, and there is a 50% reduction in photosynthesis in the North Atlantic, with an expected decline in fish.

In California, upwelling may avoid this decline.  There also would be an oxygen concentration decline in the oceans.

Biological Impacts in the Coastal Zone

Travis Huxman of  Ecology and Evolutionary Biology

He is the Faculty Director of the Sustainability Initiative.  He noted the Center for Environmental Ecology, the Nature Reserve of Orange County, and the Crystal Cove Alliance.

Cascade Sorte:  Ecology and Evolutionary Biology

She discussed the effects of global change on local communities, and the takeover by invasive species in the coastal ocean areas.

She worked in Bodega Harbor where there has been a one degree increase in ocean temperatures.

There was a 90% decline in blue mussels in the gulf of Maine.

There has been an 80% decline in California mussels at Crystal Cove.

She was asked if this was related to the Sea Star decline locally?

Mussels feed sea stars and birds.  Mussels are a Foundation species.

Dynamics of Our Changing Coastal Ocean

Brett Sanders:  Civil and Environmental Engineering CEE

He discussed El Niño and water quality.

A UCI study of air pollution from diesel trucks from the port of Los Angeles led to regulations and a 90% reduction of smog on the 710 freeway in Long Beach.

They showed that small drains slow runoff that leads to polluted water by the drains.

There has been local coastal flooding in 2005 and 2011.  They have made a FloodRISE model and mapping that gives them a predictive capability.

Kristen Davis: CEE

Coral reef bleaching is predicted for 2015.  It results from rising ocean temperatures.  Some coral reefs are just at the edge of the critical temperature.

NOAA puts out a coral bleaching prediction.  Corals seem to be getting hardier.

Large internal waves vary temperature, pH, oxygen and salinity.

She worked at the Dongsha Atoll, and watched bleaching vary with area.

She used a distributed temperature sensing cable.  This uses Raman backscattering in a fiber optic cable.  There can be 10 degree temperature changes in large internal waves.

She uses this in Southern California in a cable stretching up to 10 km from shore.

Role of Local Communities in Coastal Science 

Dave Feldman:  Planning, Policy and Design

He is the director of  Water UCI, another important UCI Initiative.  Initiatives involve research and collaborative interactions across a full spectrum of fields that can study an important civil problem.

He summarized that “The Translation of Science to the public leads to Transformation.”

He pointed out that in coastal flooding, more lives have been lost than from earthquakes

In climate variability, there is sea level rise leading to a rise in pressure on sea walls, which is extended by tides and rainstorms.

There is the social impact of tropical cyclones on insurance policies and risk.

Designers have to work to reduce flooding risk when building projects.

Water pollution is also a concern.

There is also risk from the Sacramento levy system.

Another concern is flooding and environmental justice, which may relate to damage caused to people living on river deltas.

Flooding is a technological and natural hazard.

Valery Olson:  Environmental Anthropology 

She has studied the Gulf of Mexico Ecosystem as a Sociocultural Object.  She interviewed families in the Gulf, and found that they were involved in both the fishing and oil industries in the Gulf.

She interviewed scientists involved in the restoration phase from the Gulf Oil Spill and could see a new outlook arising from that.

Angela Mooney D’Arcy:  Executive Director, Sacred Places Institute for Indigenous Peoples 

She is an Environmental Lawyer for the local Native American Community.

She pointed out that there were 200 tribal organizations in California.

After the Gold Rush, the newcomers wouldn’t deal with the tribes.

One third to one half of the tribes relied on the coast.

The Native Americans were here from ten to twenty thousand years.  They had Nations that traded and survived.  They had an Environmental knowledge of the area.

In their religious beliefs, they are Stakeholders arising from the creator, and want to be regarded as such.

Local communities are critical in science endeavors.

Their role needs to be reciprocal rather than extractive, and they should be involved in the science or at least receive the results of the science.
















About Dennis SILVERMAN

I am a retired Professor of Physics and Astronomy at U C Irvine. For a decade I have been active in learning about energy and the environment, and in lecturing and attending classes at the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute (OLLI) at UC Irvine.
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