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APCC Takes Action on Climate Change

In the spring of 2017, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency deleted information and research about climate change from its website at the direction of the Trump administration. Fortunately, the important climate data compiled by the EPA and other government agencies over the years has been preserved and is now posted on the websites of more than a dozen U.S. cities. APCC provides the following link to the scrubbed EPA climate change data now found on the city of Boston’s website.

As an environmental organization whose work is based on sound science, APCC is actively engaged in the issue of climate change and sea level rise in our region.

What is Climate Change?

When fossil fuels are burned for energy, carbon dioxide is added to the atmosphere. The more fossil fuels we burn, the greater the buildup of carbon dioxide. This buildup of carbon dioxide acts like a blanket in the atmosphere that traps heat around the world, preventing it from escaping into space. As more carbon dioxide builds up, the blanket gets larger and thicker. This heat-trapping blanket is disrupting the climate.

This disruption of the climate is adversely impacting the Earth’s land and water in different ways, including increased droughts, more catastrophic storms, ocean acidification and an increase in average temperatures on Earth. One consequence of the Earth’s rising temperatures is the melting of vast amounts of ice stored in the Arctic and Antarctic regions. Warming also causes thermal expansion of the ocean. Both effects—melting of ice and thermal expansion—are causing sea levels to rise worldwide.

This 3-D visualization, from a new NASA supercomputer project, reveals in startling detail the complex patterns in which carbon dioxide in the atmosphere increases, decreases and moves around the globe over the course of September 2014 to September 2015.

Carbon dioxide plays a significant role in trapping heat in Earth's atmosphere. The gas is released from human activities like burning fossil fuels, and the concentration of carbon dioxide moves and changes through the seasons. Using observations from NASA's Orbiting Carbon Observatory (OCO-2) satellite, scientists developed a model of the behavior of carbon in the atmosphere from Sept. 1, 2014, to Aug. 31, 2015. Scientists can use models like this one to better understand and predict where concentrations of carbon dioxide could be especially high or low, based on activity on the ground.

Credits: NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center/K. Mersmann, M. Radcliff, producers

Source: Boden, T.A., Marland, G., and Andres R.J. (2015). Global, Regional, and National Fossil-Fuel CO2Emissions. Carbon Dioxide Information Analysis Center, Oak Ridge National Laboratory, U.S. Department of Energy, doi 10.3334/CDIAC/00001_V2015. Image credit: EPA

Scientific data shows that the northeastern U.S.—including Cape Cod—will experience some of the most dramatic increases in sea level rise. The region can also expect increasingly warmer temperatures, more droughts and an increased frequency in extreme weather. The likely impacts on the environment, human health and safety, and local economies are serious and are projected to be very costly.

Despite potential resistance by political leaders to address climate change on the national level, APCC remains fully committed in our advocacy for regional actions and policies that reduce our dependence on fossil fuels, and we will continue to strongly push for measures that help us mitigate and adapt to climate change impacts.

The following are some of APCC’s current climate change initiatives:

Cape Cod Climate Change Collaborative: APCC is a founding member of the Cape Cod Climate Change Collaborative, a Cape-wide campaign uniting the varied expertise and experience of Cape Cod organizations to address climate change impacts. Its mission is to promote local and regional actions to mitigate the impacts of climate change and reduce our regional carbon footprint.

Massachusetts Climate Change Adaptation Coalition: APCC participates in the Massachusetts Climate Change Adaptation Coalition, a coalition of government agencies, business leaders, engineers, architects, energy and environmental organizations advocating for the state to establish an integrated plan to manage the impacts of climate change. The coalition’s efforts include supporting existing climate management initiatives and advocating for their expansion through increased state funding. The coalition is also working with the legislature in drafting the Climate Adaptation Management Plan (CAMP) legislation and advocating for its passage. CAMP would require the state to develop a comprehensive plan for protecting environmental resources, public health, public safety and the economy.

Cape Cod Coastal Resilience Project: APCC is partnering with the Cape Cod Commission on a three-year grant from the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration to develop a tool and public outreach program to investigate the environmental and socio-economic effects of local and regional coastal resiliency strategies on Cape Cod. The project will identify coastal vulnerabilities, identify technologies and strategies to address those vulnerabilities, evaluate costs and risks of those options, and, with public input, choose a path forward for our region.

Except for a leveling off between the 1940s and 1970s, Earth's surface temperatures have increased since 1880. The last decade has brought the temperatures to the highest levels ever recorded. The graph shows global annual surface temperatures relative to 1951-1980 mean temperatures. As shown by the red line, long-term trends are more apparent when temperatures are averaged over a five year period. Image credit: NASA

Evaluating the Effects of Sea Level Rise on Cape Cod’s Aquifer: Through a grant from the Massachusetts Environmental Trust, APCC commissioned a U.S. Geological Survey study to model the effects of sea level rise on the mid-Cape’s ground water system. The study, “Potential Effects of Sea-Level Rise on the Depth to Saturated Sediments of the Sagamore and Monomoy Flow Lenses on Cape Cod, Massachusetts," found that rising sea level could potentially raise the water table and decrease depths to groundwater in some areas, which would adversely affect public and private infrastructure. The study can assist local and regional planning for these vulnerable areas.

APCC’s Restoration Coordination Center: APCC established the Restoration Coordination Center to assist towns with implementation of environmental restoration projects by providing coordination, project management and technical assistance. The list of restoration projects complied by APCC includes coastal resilience projects, which will help protect the Cape’s environment and inhabitants from impacts of climate change and hazard events such as hurricanes, coastal storms and flooding. APCC also conducted an assessment of Cape Cod salt marshes to identify those with the potential to migrate inland and adjust to rising sea levels.

Check out these disturbing but amazing visualizations on disappearing sea ice, rising sea levels, carbon dioxide emissions and rising global temperatures from NASA.

Senator Warren Reads APCC Letter in Senate’s EPA Administrator Nomination Debate

During the U.S. Senate’s debate Thursday evening of Scott Pruitt’s nomination to head the Environmental Protection Agency, Senator Elizabeth Warren read a letter from the Association to Preserve Cape Cod that expressed APCC’s concern over the Pruitt nomination and the impact it would have on efforts to safeguard the environment.

In the letter, APCC pointed to Pruitt’s record as Oklahoma attorney general in which he repeatedly challenged the EPA’s authority to regulate air and water quality, as well as his skepticism of climate change science.

APCC also worried that EPA programs, such as the Southeast New England Coastal Watershed Restoration Program which is assisting Cape Cod communities with water quality improvement projects, could be in jeopardy under Pruitt.

Earth's Long-Term Warming Trend, 1880-2015

NASA Scientific Visualization Studio

This visualization illustrates Earth’s long-term warming trend, showing temperature changes from 1880 to 2015 as a rolling five-year average. Orange colors represent temperatures that are warmer than the 1951-80 baseline average, and blues represent temperatures cooler than the baseline.

Following Carbon Dioxide Through the Atmosphere

NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center/Kathryn Mersmann & Matthew Radcliff

Carbon dioxide plays a significant role in trapping heat in Earth's atmosphere. The gas is released from human activities like burning fossil fuels, and the concentration of carbon dioxide moves and changes through the seasons.

Using observations from NASA's Orbiting Carbon Observatory (OCO-2) satellite, scientists developed a model of the behavior of carbon in the atmosphere from Sept. 1, 2014, to Aug. 31, 2015.

Scientists can use models like this one to better understand and predict where concentrations of carbon dioxide could be especially high or low, based on activity on the ground.

Cumulative sea level change since April 2002

NASA-JPL/Caltech

An animation showing “sea level fingerprints,” or patterns of rising and falling sea levels across the globe in response to changes in Earth’s gravitational and rotational fields. Major changes in water mass can cause localized bumps and dips in gravity, sometimes with counterintuitive effects. Melting glaciers, for example, actually cause nearby sea level to drop; as they lose mass, their gravitational pull slackens, and sea water migrates away. In this animation, computed from data gathered by the twin GRACE satellites between April 2002 and March 2015, sea level is dropping around rapidly melting Greenland (orange, yellow). But near coastlines at a sufficient distance, the added water causes sea levels to rise (blue). The computational method is described in Adhikari et al. (2016, Geoscientific Model Development). And, these solutions are presented in Adhikari and Ivins (2016, Science Advances)..

Annual Arctic Sea Ice Minimum 1979-2015 with Area Graph

NASA Scientific Visualization Studio

Satellite-based passive microwave images of the sea ice have provided a reliable tool for continuously monitoring changes in the Arctic ice since 1979. Every summer the Arctic ice cap melts down to what scientists call its 'minimum' before colder weather begins to cause ice cover to increase. This visualization shows the expanse of the annual minimum Arctic sea ice for each year from 1979 through 2015. A semi-transparent graph overlay shows the area in millions of square kilometers for each year's minimum day. The date shown in the upper right corner indicates the current year being displayed.