Issue 30, January 2005

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Articles of Particular Interest to the ENSO Community
See previous editions of the ENSO Signal for others.)

Current State of the Tropical Pacific
Satellite Study Under Way
Become an Argonaut
DynaPred
GOSIC

Articles of Particular Interest to the Network
(See previous editions of the Newsletter for others.)

Let's Hear From You
Water Conflict Chronology
Decision Making Under Uncertainty
Island Affairs: INSULA
COP 10 News
Yale Environmental Journal Translated into Chinese
World Water Day 2005
Clean Development Mechanism
Science in Africa
New Coral Reef Library
Millenium Assessment Outreach Kit
Climate Change Futures
Mangroves and Tsunamis
World Environment Day
Earth Portal for Global Environmental Information
Humanitarian Early Warning Service
Getty Wildlife Prize Winnners
Harry Chapin Media Awards
Climate Justice: Enforcing Climate Change Law

Thank You For Your Input!

Please send news items, publications, Web sites, and articles of interest to our readers to the address below by 31 March 2005. This newsletter values input from its readers, which has now reached over 2,000. If you are interested in receiving the newsletter only on line, please subscribe there. You will be notified electronically when a new issue is released. Feedback is encouraged!

CURRENT STATE OF THE TROPICAL PACIFIC

(From the Climate Prediction Center ’s ENSODiagnostic Discussion) www.cpc.ncep.noaa.gov (as of 6 January 2005.) The pattern of anomalous warmth in the equatorial Pacific in recent months and the most recent five-month running mean value of the Southern Oscillation Index indicate that a weak warm (mid-Pacific El Niño) episode has developed. However, through December 2004, there has been a lack of persistent enhanced convection over the anomalously warm waters of the central equatorial Pacific, which has limited El Niño-related impacts on the global pattern of precipitation. (Note: the recent pattern of heavy precipitation in California has been associated with (1) a persistent high-latitude blocking ridge near the Gulf of Alaska and an associated trough along the West Coast of the US, and (2) a weaker-then-average jet stream across the central and eastern Pacific. These features are not consistent with El Niño, which would favor a stronger-than-average jet stream over the central and eastern Pacific and a reduced tendency for blocking in the Gulf of Alaska.) Based on the recent evolution of oceanic and atmospheric conditions and on a majority of statistical and coupled model forecasts, it seems most likely that weak warm episode conditions will persist for at least the next three months. However, there is considerable uncertainty concerning future develop-ments in the extreme eastern equatorial Pacific along the Peruvian coast (the classical El Niño region).

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SATELLITE STUDY UNDER WAY

The Department of Geography at East Carolina University is conducting research on intraseasonal variations in precipitation from the Indian to the west Pacific Ocean as a forcing mechanism for ENSO. The three-year project, funded by NASA’s Precipitation Measurement Mission, is headed by Principal Investigator Scott Curtis. The study will analyze Tropical Rainfall Measuring Mission (TRMM) and other current satellite-based precipitation information for evidence of climate variations within the Indo-Pacific sector that are related to the development of El Niño events. Part of the work, the climatology of precipitation over and surrounding the key islands of the Maritime Continent, is the basis of Ahmed Salahuddin’s PhD thesis. For more information about the project, see www.personal.ecu.edu/curtisw/. A NASA press release can be found at www.nasa.gov/vision/earth/lookingatearth/elnino_ocean.html.

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BECOME AN ARGONAUT

Argonautics is the newsletter of the international Argo project. Argo collects salinity and temperature profiles from an array of robotic floats that populate the ice-free oceans that are deeper than about 2,000 meters. They also give information on the surface and subsurface currents. The first Argo floats were deployed in 2000, and the array is expected to be completed by 2006 or 2007 with 3,000 floats. In November 2004, Argo passed the milestone of 1,500 operating floats. The array is now global, which permits Argo to start to address important scientific issues and make the data useful and available to operational centers. Argo data are available to everyone. Researchers using Argo float data are encouraged to contact the person responsible for the floats used and to outline the type of research or analysis that is being conducted. To subscribe to Argonautics, or to learn more about the project, visit the website at www.argo.ucsd.edu or contact the Argo Information Center at argo.jcommops.org. The Argo Director, John Gould, is available via email at John.Gould@csiro.au for more information. Argo data may be downloaded from the Global Data Centres at www.usgodae.org/argo/argo.html. Argo is a pilot program of the Global Ocean Observing System.

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DYNAPRED

Dynamic Predictables (DynaPred) is a company based in Columbia, Missouri that provides long-range climate projections tailored for agriculture and utilities industries. Line charts are available on their website that show active predictions from 1998 and 2003 for the Nino3 anomaly forward through 2009, with monthly observed updates for the user’s comparison of predictions with actual observed data. Narrative texts are included. Visit the website at www.dynapred.com or write to Greg Suhler at suhler@dynapred.com for more information.

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GOSIC

The Global Observing Systems Information Center (GOSIC) provides access to data and information, and overviews of the structure and programs for the Global Climate Observing System (GCOS), the Global Ocean Observing Systems (GOOS), and the Global Terrestrial Observing System (GTOS). GOSIC provides access to data and describes the components in detail and provides links to specific projects and their data. The Global Observing Systems Program is the focus for continuing international work to understand the terrestrial, oceanic, and atmospheric components of global change. GOSIC recently added new outreach materials on its website, including a brochure and PowerPoint presentations that explain its mission. GOSIC is the only entity that crosses observing systems and provides access to all Global Observing Systems data. For more information, see the website at http://gosic.org or contact Christina Lief at lief@gosic.org. GOSIC is located at the University of Delaware, College of Marine Studies, 700 Pilottown Rd., Lewes, DE 19958.

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LET'S HEAR FROM YOU

Budget constraints may not allow us to continue this newsletter in hard copy for much longer. However, we will have at least one more issue in hard copy. Information for this next issue must be received by 31 March 2005. We will continue to seek funds for the newsletter. If you prefer to receive the newsletter online, please let us know at http://www.isse.ucar.edu/newshp and you will be reminded when a new issue is released. Thanks again for your contributions.

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WATER CONFLICT CHRONOLOGY

Peter Gleick, Pacific Institute for Studies in Development, Environment, and Security, has announced an updated version of the Water Conflict Chronology website. The Chronology was initiated by the Pacific Institute in the late 1980s to track and categorize events related to water and conflict. It has evolved into a website that can be modified and changed as new information and comments are contributed by users. Water needs and demands will always involve political pressures, and as the world’s population increases and precipitation patterns change worldwide, control of water resources becomes an even more volatile issue. Please email contributions, with full citations and supporting information, to pgleick@pipeline.com or visit the website at www.worldwater.org/conflictIntro.htm

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DECISION MAKING UNDER UNCERTAINTY

Five interdisciplinary research teams will share around $25 million from the National Science Foundation (NSF) over the next five years to study problems related to understanding climate-related decisions under uncertainty. Research centers will be located at Arizona State, Carnegie-Mellon, and Columbia universities, with other interdisciplinary teams at the University of Colorado and the Rand Corporation in California. The increased knowledge generated by recent scientific research on the causes and consequences of climate change and variability has led to a growing need to better understand how decision makers make choices among different courses of action. The NSF is providing the funding as part of its priority area in Human and Social Dynamics. Results will contribute to the Climate Change Research Initiative. For more information on NSF’s Human and Social Dynamics priority area, see www.nsf.gov/home/crssprgm/hsd/start.htm or for more information on the Climate Change Research Initiative, see www.climatescience.gov/about/ccri.htm

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ISLAND AFFAIRS: INSULA

The International Scientific Council for Island Development (INSULA) aims to contribute to the economic, social, and cultural progress of islands throughout the world, as well as to help with the protection of the island environment and sustainable development of resources. INSULA membership includes researchers from a wide range of disciplines, specialists, and administrators involved in sustainable development of islands and small island states. INSULA is supported by UNESCO (UN Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization). INSULA also publishes the International Journal of Island Affairs. For more information or to learn about INSULA’s many initiatives, visit the website at www.insula.org/ or write to INSULA, c/o UNESCO, 1 rue de Miollis, 75015 Paris, France; tel: 33-1-4568-4056; email insula@insula.org.

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COP 10 NEWS

The Tenth Conference of Parties (COP 10) was held in Buenos Aires, Argentina, in December 2004. It marked the tenth anniversary of the entry into force of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), which served as a central theme for the meeting. To mark the anniversary, the UNFCCC has published a book, The First Ten Years, which is a available free of charge on the website below (click on “Press”). The meeting also highlighted the entry into force of the Kyoto Protocol, which will take place in February 2005, following the ratification of the Protocol by Russia. The COP 10 also adopted a package of measures aimed at helping countries to prepare for climate change, including adaptation measures, mitigation policies and their impacts, and technology. These decisions adopted by COP 10 are available for download at the website at www.unfccc.int or email press@unfccc.int for more information.

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YALE ENVIRONMENTAL JOURNAL TRANSLATED INTO CHINESE

As China’s role in the global environment grows, so does the importance of high-quality scientific research and communication between China’s researchers with colleagues in other countries. To help foster increased dialog, the Journal of Industrial Ecology has translated abstracts of all its articles into Chinese. These translations are available at the journal’s website. Funds for this endeavor were provided by the Henry Luce Foundation as part of a larger project aimed at increasing educational and scientific exchange in industrial ecology between Asia, especially China, and Yale University. The project, Collaborative Industrial Ecology in Asia, supports scientific exchange, student scholarships, and translations into Chinese. The website for the journal translations is available at mitpress.mit.edu/jie/translations. The journal is owned by Yale University, published by the MIT Press, and headquartered at the Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies.

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WORLD WATER DAY 2005

The United Nations General Assembly at its 58th session in December 2003 agreed to proclaim the years 2005–2015 as the International Decade for Action, “Water for Life,” beginning with World Water Day, 22 March 2005. Safe water supply and adequate sanitation to protect health are among the most basic of human needs. Today, there are almost 1.1 billion people who have inadequate access to water, and 2.4 billion without appropriate sanitation. The Water for Life decade aims to bring a greater focus on water-related issues, while striving to ensure the participation of women in water-related development efforts, and to further cooperation at all levels to achieve the water-related goals of the Millennium Declaration and the World Summit for Sustainable Development. For more information, please visit the UN website at www.un.org/News/Press/docs/2003/gaef3068.doc.htm

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CLEAN DEVELOPMENT MECHANISM

The Kyoto Protocol of the UNFCCC (UN Framework Convention on Climate Change) defined 3 innovative “flexibility mechanisms” to lower the overall cost of achieving its emissions targets. All 3 mechanisms are based on the Protocol’s system for the account of targets. Each of the Parties must reduce its emissions over the 5-year commitment period by assigned amount units (AAUs) to gain credit from action taken. The CDM (Clean Development Mechanism) provides for the Parties to implement projects that reduce emissions, or absorb carbon through afforestation or reforestation activities, in return for certified emission reductions. In November 2004, the first CDM project was registered with the UNFCCC. This project was developed by EcoSecurities, a dedicated carbon trading advisory firm, in partnership with a local landfill operating company in Brazil. The project consists of the use of landfill gas to generate electricity. The project is entitled “ Brazil NovaGerar Landfill Gas to Energy Project.” For more information on the project, see the website at cdm.unfccc.int/Projects/registered.html or read more about EcoSecurities at www.ecosecurities.com

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SCIENCE IN AFRICA

Science in Africa is the first popular science magazine specifically for Africa. Scientists in a broad range of fields report on their research, give expert views on topical issues in science, and provide information to an African public seeking a deeper understanding of science and the role it plays in their lives. Their mission is to promote local and international awareness of science conducted in Africa; give young scientists an opportunity to showcase their research; give information on scientific and health issues relating to society; give teachers of science in Africa access to resources and information of local relevance; encourage debate on scientific issues; and further science communication among African countries. Based in Grahamstown, South Africa, the newsletter is free upon registration. See the website at www.scienceinafrica.co.za for more information.

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NEW CORAL REEF LIBRARY

A NASA-funded project has created an archive of approximately 1,500 images of worldwide coral reefs. The collection of coral reef images is the basis for a new Internet-based library for the Millennium Coral Reef Project. NASA contributed funding and satellite data to the project to develop global reef maps as a base for future research. A distribution network has been developed to make the data available to organizations around the world, as current knowledge of the total area and locations of coral reefs is not adequate to see changes as they are occurring. The final map products are due for release in early 2005. To access the raw archive on the newly designed website, see seawifs.gsfc.nasa.gov/cgi/landsat/pl or for more information and images about the press release, see www.nasa.gov/vision/earth/lookingatearth/coralreef_image.html (from NASA News Archive)

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MILLENNIUM ASSESSMENT OUTREACH KIT

The Millennium Ecosystem Assessment (MA) is a complex project with complex findings, difficult to communicate even to those working in the field of sustainable development. It is an international work program designed to meet the needs of decision makers and the public for scientific information concerning the consequences of ecosystem change for human well-being and options for responding to those changes. To facilitate understanding of the MA, a CD has been developed with a number of resources to communicate the MA’s work and the issues it addresses. The Kit seeks to establish a bridge between the MA and those who want to disseminate information and ideas to decisionmakers. A limited number of copies of the first version are now available upon request. A second version of the substantive findings of the MA will be made available in March 2005, together with a final release of the reports. To request a copy, send a note to jalleh@millenniumassessment.org with an indication of how you plan to use the kit. The MA was launched in June 2001 to help meet assessment needs of the Convention on Biological Diversity, Convention to Combat Desertification, the Ramsar Convention on Wetlands, and the Convention on Migratory Species. If successful, it is hoped that the assessment process modeled on the MA will be repeated every 5–10 years. See the website at www.millenniumassessment.org for more information.

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CLIMATE CHANGE FUTURES

The UN Development Programme, Swiss Re, and the Center for Health and the Global Environment at Harvard Medical School have joined forces to engage in a multi-stakeholder scenario-building exercise: Climate Change Futures: Health, Ecological and Economic Dimensions. This international, multidisciplinary project is designed to formulate future scenarios and their consequences based on a set of climate projections and development trajectories. The process is seeking corporate participation and additional sponsors. A draft report is now available on line and can be reviewed for input into the Final Report, which will be released in mid-2005, and is intended as an educational tool within financial institutions. All comments are welcome regarding the content, approach, and potential uses of the report. To access more information about the report, see the website at www.med.harvard.edu/chge/ccf.html or visit the Harvard Center for Health and the Global Environment at www.med.harvard.edu/chge/

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MANGROVES AND TSUNAMIS

Mangroves encourage biodiversity and are the home to the world’s richest variety of salt-tolerant trees, ferns, and shrubs. Mangroves are also rich in sea life and can be populated with monkeys, wild cats, lizards, sea turtles, and more. They may also have mitigated the massive destruction that occurred in December 2004 in South Asia wrought by tsunamis. An online discussion suggests that mangrove destruction may have factored into the huge loss of human life. In the Pitchavaram and Muthupet regions where mangrove forests are abundant, the mangroves acted like a shield and bore the brunt of the tsunami. (Join the online discussion at sea-peat@yahoogroups.com). Restoring mangroves is also a matter of economic and social justice, as the region is going to need more of both as disaster relief moves forward. There are alternatives to mangrove destruction. The Mangrove Action Project documents sustainable management alternatives already in practice in the region that can both protect mangroves and provide livelihoods for people who live near them. Silvofishery combines mangrove reforestation (or retention) with low-input aquaculture techniques. For information on either of these projects, visit the Mangrove Action Project at www.earthisland.org/map/, a project of the Earth Island Institute.

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WORLD ENVIRONMENT DAY

World Environment Day, commemorated each year on 5 June, is one of the principal vehicles through which the United Nations stimulates awareness of the environment and enhances political attention and action. The theme selected for 2005 is Green Cities, and the slogan is “Plan for the Planet!” The main international celebrations of World Environment Day 2005 will be held in San Francisco, California, USA. The UN Environment Programme (UNEP) is honored to have San Francisco host this important event. UNEP’s agenda is to give a human face to environmental issues; empower people to become active agents of sustainable and equitable development; promote an understanding that communities are pivotal to changing attitudes toward environmental issues; and advocate partnerships, which ensures that all nations and people can enjoy a safer and more prosperous future. The city of San Francisco is planning street rallies, bike parades, green concerts, essays, and poster competitions, tree planting, and recycling and cleanup campaigns. Contact Elisabeth Guilbaud-Cox, Outreach and Special Events, UNEP, PO Box 30552 , United Nations Ave. , Gigiri, Nairobi , Kenya, or visit the website at www.unep.org/wed

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EARTH PORTAL FOR GLOBAL ENVIRONMENTAL INFORMATION

The Earth Portal’s official launch coincides with the United Nations’ World Environment Day on 5 June 2005. This Portal aims to be a comprehensive source of global environmental information to enhance collaboration around the world. It displays geography with an interactive three-dimensional representation of Earth so that users can “zoom in” from space, “pan across” geographic information, and “fly through” visualizations of environmental data. The Earth Portal is being built by the Environmental Information Coalition (EIC), which was established in 2003 and comprises many organizations in the US and abroad. The National Council for Science and the Environment serves at the EIS secretariat in Washington, DC. Although much of the content will be freely accessible, the financing plan is to make a transition in support structure from philanthropic donors to subscribers paying for premium services. Visit www.earthportal.net for more information (from www.chiex.net, Climate and Health Information Exchange).

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HUMANITARIAN EARLY WARNING SERVICE

UN humanitarian agencies and partners of the Inter-Agency Standing Committee (IASC), a body that fosters enhanced inter-agency collaboration on humanitarian policy and operations, has launched a new Humanitarian Early Warning Service website, HEWSweb. This site displays the latest forecasts, reports, and alerts on drought, floods, tropical storms, locust infestation, El Niño, earthquakes, and volcanic activity. Plans to offer users an opportunity to access and share information on socio-politicial crises are also being developed. HEWsweb has been conceived as the first global “one-stop shop” for early warning information, in order to facilitate access to the latest early warnings. The UN’s World Food Programme has provided leadership and support in the development of this initiative. Please visit HEWSweb at www.hewsweb.org for more information.

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GETTY WILDLIFE PRIZE WINNERS

A lobster fisherman from Marathon, Florida, and a tiger conservationist and farmer from the Indian state of Uttar Pradesh are this year’s co-winners of the J.Paul Getty Wildlife Conservation Prize. Tony Iarocci, a commercial fisherman for more than 30 years in Florida, is one of the world’s most accomplished advocates for fisheries sustainability and community-based marine protected areas. Billy Arjan Singh, who has devoted almost 60 years of his life to wildlife conservation, became a farmer as a young man. Conservation was a little-known concept in the years shortly after India’s independence in 1947. Singh established “Tiger Haven” on the outskirts of what is now the Dudhwa Tiger Reserve, so that he could farm and observe wildlife in natural surroundings. Today, Dudhwa is an area of high conservation importance that also protects rhinoceros, elephants, swamp deer, among others. Established in 1974 by the late J. Paul Getty, the prize recognizes conservation excellence and innovation by individuals and groups. For more information about this year’s prize winners or more about the prize in general, contact Kerry Green Zobor, World Wildlife Fund US; whose email is kerry.zobor@wwfus.org or visit the website at www.worldwildlife.org/about/gettyprize/index.cfm. The WWF prepares an annual slate of nominees from which the winner is selected by a jury of individuals from a wide array of conservation activities.

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HARRY CHAPIN MEDIA AWARDS

The Harry Chapin Media Awards (HCMAs), formerly the World Hunger Media Awards, encourage the media to tell the stories of hunger and poverty. The HCMAs honor print and electronic media for outstanding coverage of hunger and poverty and the underlying root causes of these problems. This includes work on economic inequality and insecurity, unemployment, homelessness, domestic empowerment, sustainable development, food production, agriculture, nutrition, and the struggle for land. The awards cover five media categories: book, newspaper, periodical (magazine or e-zine), photojournalism, and broadcast (television, film, or radio). All entries for the award must have appeared between 1 January– 31 December 2004 and must be mailed before 3 February 2005. International entries must be submitted in English. Unpublished manuscripts for photographs are not eligible. Please send entries with application and US$25 to: The Harry Chapin Media Awards, c/o World Hunger Year, 505 8th Ave., Suite 2100, New York, NY 10018-9274. Available on line at www.worldhungeryear.org/media_center/hcma.asp

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CLIMATE JUSTICE: ENFORCING CLIMATE CHANGE LAW

The Climate Justice Program is a collaborative endeavor of a group of lawyers in the UK, Germany, and the USA. Climate change impacts are already affecting people and the planet, and the biggest impacts will be on the lives and livelihoods of the poor and developing countries, especially small island states. Hundreds of international and regional agreements and treaties exist to protect conservation of the world’s resources, but they are not enforced. The Climate Justice Program aims to help enforce existing environmental laws by giving interested people a way to enforce climate change laws. If you are interested in funding this work, write to the Program at funding@climatelaw.org or for general inquiries, write to info@climatelaw.org or visit the website to learn about climate change litigation already under way at www.climatelaw.org

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To submit an item to appear in the next ENSO Signal, please use the on-line form in the Comments and Feedback section, or send an email to enso@ucar.edu. Information to be included in the next issue of the ENSO Signal must be received by 31 March 2005.