On Friday, I was pleased to see that the administration released the latest Climate Science Special Report, an 800-page examination of the state of climate science that is the first of two volumes of the Fourth National Climate Assessment. This extremely important report represents a Herculean task that involved scientists from multiple federal agencies (including many of our partners at NOAA) and 11 academic institutions that include several COL members. It also involved meticulous review by panels convened by the National Academy of Sciences and the U.S. Global-Change Research Program. As someone who’s been at the intersection of climate change and global security for several years (going back to my Navy career), I applaud the effort, time, and commitment that has gone into creating and releasing this report, which can drive our climate strategies going forward. These tactics must include investments in geophysical scientific research, which is essential to better understand the complexities of our changing climate and to reduce the uncertainty in projected future changes and impacts.
The role of the ocean in climate change is clearly identified in the report and should renew our commitment to all facets of ocean science, as they are all integrally involved in understanding these changes. The character and magnitude of these alterations in the ocean, along its coasts, in the atmosphere, and across our terrestrial provinces and waterways are closely interlinked but still relatively not well understood and modeled. As I reviewed the executive summary, including the conclusion that climate is changing, and it is “extremely likely that human activities … are the dominant cause,” I was reminded of another executive summary that includes the following statements: “This is a moment of unprecedented opportunity. Today, as never before, we recognize the links among the land, air, oceans, and human activities. We have access to advanced technology and timely information on a wide variety of scales. We recognize the detrimental impacts wrought by human influences. The time has come for us to alter our course and set sail for a new vision for America, one in which the oceans, coasts, and Great Lakes are healthy and productive, and our use of their resources is both profitable and sustainable.”
This is from the report of the U.S. Commission on Ocean Policy, An Ocean Blueprint for the 21st Century, released in July 2004. Just as this led to several actions regarding ocean policy and ocean science over the past 13 years, we must all work diligently to ensure that this latest Climate Science Special Report renews our national and global commitment to our ocean and the critical role that marine science and technology must play in a future that includes a secure and sustainable oceanic world.
RADM Jonathan W. White, USN (ret.)
President and CEO
Consortium for Ocean Leadership
Chukchi Mooring Returns A Year Of pH Data
On a recent research mission, University of Alaska Fairbanks scientists brought home the first set of year-round pH data from the Chukchi Sea. The data came from a mooring known as the Chukchi Ecosystem Observatory, or “CEO”, located about 120 miles northwest of Barrow. In addition to pH, the mooring collects a broad sweet of measurements including sea ice dynamics, ocean physics, nutrient and carbonate chemistry, particulate matter, phytoplankton, zooplankton, fisheries, and marine mammal acoustics.