CHALLENGE 5: Unlock ocean-based solutions to climate change:

Enhance understanding of the ocean-climate nexus and generate knowledge and solutions to mitigate, adapt and build resilience to the effects of climate change across all geographies and at all scales, and to improve services including predictions for the ocean, climate and weather.

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  • Warm conveyor belt activity over the Pacific: modulation by the Madden–Julian Oscillation and impact on tropical–extratropical teleconnections

    Quinting, Julian F.; Grams, Christian M.; Kar-Man Chang, Edmund; Pfahl, Stephan; Wernli, Heini (2024)
    Weather and Climate Dynamics
    Research in the last few decades has revealed that rapidly ascending airstreams in extratropical cyclones – socalled warm conveyor belts (WCBs) – play an important role in extratropical atmospheric dynamics. However on the subseasonal timescale, the modulation of their occurrence frequency, henceforth referred to as WCB activity, has so far received little attention. Also, it is not yet clear whether WCB activity may affect tropospheric teleconnection patterns, which constitute a source of predictability on this subseasonal timescale. Using reanalysis data, this study analyzes the modulation of WCB activity by the Madden–Julian Oscillation (MJO). A key finding is that WCB activity increases significantly over the western North Pacific when the convection of the MJO is located over the Indian Ocean. This increased WCB activity, which is stronger during La Niña conditions, is related to enhanced poleward moisture fluxes driven by the circulation of subtropical Rossby gyres associated with the MJO. In contrast, when the convection of the MJO is located over the western North Pacific, WCB activity increases significantly over the eastern North Pacific. This increase stems from a southward shift and eastward extension of the North Pacific jet stream. However, while these mean increases are significant, individual MJO events exhibit substantial variability, with some events even exhibiting anomalously low WCB activity. Individual events of the same MJO phase with anomalously low WCB activity over the North Pacific tend to be followed by the known canonical teleconnection patterns in the Atlantic–European region; i.e., the occurrence frequency of the positive phase of the North Atlantic Oscillation (NAO) is enhanced when convection of the MJO is located over the Indian Ocean and similarly for the negative phase of the NAO when MJO convection is over the western North Pacific. However, the canonical teleconnection patterns are modified when individual events of the same MJO phase are accompanied by anomalously high WCB activity over the North Pacific. In particular, the link between MJO and the negative phase of the NAO weakens considerably. Reanalysis data and experiments with an idealized general circulation model reveal that this is related to anomalous ridge building over western North America favored by enhanced WCB activity. Overall, our study highlights the potential role of WCBs in shaping tropical–extratropical teleconnection patterns and underlines the importance of representing them adequately in numerical weather prediction models in order to fully exploit the sources of predictability emerging from the tropics.
  • Atmospheric Flash Drought in the Caribbean

    Ramseyer, Craig A.; Miller, Paul W. (2023)
    Journal of Hydrometeorology
    Despite the intensifying interest in flash drought both within the United States and globally, moist tropical landscapes have largely escaped the attention of the flash drought community. Because these ecozones are acclimatized to receiving regular, near-daily precipitation, they are especially vulnerable to rapid-drying events. This is particularly true within the Caribbean Sea basin where numerous small islands lack the surface and groundwater resources to cope with swiftly developing drought conditions. This study fills the tropical flash drought gap by examining the pervasiveness of flash drought across the pan-Caribbean region using a recently proposed criterion based on the evaporative demand drought index (EDDI). The EDDI identifies 46 instances of widespread flash drought “outbreaks” in which significant fractions of the pan-Caribbean encounter rapid drying over 15 days and then maintain this condition for another 15 days. Moreover, a self-organizing maps (SOM) classification reveals a tendency for flash drought to assume recurring typologies concentrated in one of the Central American, South American, or Greater Antilles coastlines, although a simultaneous, Caribbean-wide drought is never observed within the 40-yr (1981–2020) period examined. Furthermore, three of the six flash drought typol- ogies identified by the SOM initiate most often during Phase 2 of the Madden–Julian oscillation. Collectively, these find- ings motivate the need to more critically examine the transferability of flash drought definitions into the global tropics, particularly for small water-vulnerable islands where even island-wide flash droughts may only occupy a few pixels in most reanalysis datasets.
  • European offshore renewable energy: Towards a sustainable future

    Soukissian, Takvor; O’Hagan, Anne Marie; Azzellino, Arianna; Boero, Ferdinando; Brito e Melo, Ana; Comiskey, Patricia; Gao, Zhen; Howell, Dickon; Le Boulluec, Marc; Maisondieu, Christophe; et al. (European Marine Board, 2023)
    The global economic and geopolitical situations in 2022, including the recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic, increasing fuel prices, and the war in Ukraine leading to questions of energy security, have further increased the impetus on governments to accelerate the move away from a reliance on oil and gas as energy sources. Offshore renewable energy sources should play a key role in that move. In light of these geo-political, economic, and environmental drivers, this Future Science Brief outlines the state-of-the-art in knowledge on offshore renewable energy (ORE). It also highlights key research needs to help us fully understand the implications of such an energy transition.
  • Blue Carbon: Challenges and opportunities to mitigate the climate and biodiversity crises

    Gattuso, Jean-Pierre; Hicks, Natalie; Neukermans, Griet; Landschützer, Peter; Pörtner, Hans-Otto; Heymans, Sheila JJ; Heymans, Sheila JJ; Rodriguez Perez, Ana; Alexander, Britt; Muñiz Piniella, Ángel; et al. (European Marine Board, 2023)
    Climate change and biodiversity loss are two of humanity’s greatest challenges. Blue carbon, i.e. the carbon captured and stored by marine living organisms and ecosystems, has the potential to help mitigate both challenges, because marine ecosystems that are important for sequestering carbon often also harbour rich biodiversity. Expanding and protecting Blue Carbon ecosystems has therefore been proposed as a Nature-based Solution to complement climate change mitigation efforts on land and to protect and restore marine biodiversity. In addition, securing and rebuilding Blue Carbon ecosystems can stabilise livelihoods, protect coasts, and support other societal needs such as food provision from the Ocean. However, the effectiveness of Blue Carbon ecosystems as a Nature-based Solution depends on the available space and ecosystem productivity, which can be impacted by climate change. Moreover, the overall carbon sequestration potential of Blue Carbon ecosystems is low and their contribution to climate stabilisation will only be significant once greenhouse gas emissions are strongly limited. Therefore, a drastic reduction of greenhouse gas emissions to keep global warming close to 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels is essential to maintain the health and long-term functionality of Blue Carbon ecosystems as a Nature-based Solution. This document describes examples and benefits of Blue Carbon ecosystems, and discusses uncertainties and challenges for the conservation and restoration of Blue Carbon ecosystems as a climate change solution. It also highlights the wider role of the Ocean in mitigating climate change through the carbon cycle, and closes with key research and management recommendations.
  • The Ocean Impact Navigator. A new impact measurement framework for the ocean innovation ecosystem. Technical Appendix. Work in Progress.

    Systemiq; 1000 Ocean Startups Impact Working Group (IOOO Ocean Startups, 2022)
    This Technical Appendix has been written as a companion to the Ocean Impact Navigator: A New Impact Measurement Framework for the Ocean Innovation Ecosystem. It provides further details on the KPIs proposed within the Navigator framework. At the time of publication in June 2022, the Navigator has not yet been finalised, but is embarking on a period of testing, feedback and refinement that is expected to culminate in the launch of an online tool at the end of the year. It is in this spirit of soliciting feedback from the ocean impact and innovation community that this Appendix is published, as we hope that it will enable interested members of the community to review and provide more nuanced and detailed comments on the proposed framework. It is expected both that the set of KPIs elaborated in this Appendix will be revised in the coming months, and that the detailed guidance outlined in this Appendix will also be refined, based on the feedback that is received. It is also hoped that Navigator users – both now and in the future, will find this a practical tool to support implementation of the framework for their own impact measurement.
  • The Ocean Impact Navigator. A new impact measurement framework for the ocean innovation ecosystem.

    Vincent, Adrien; Ring, Jennifer; Stodulka, Katherine; Juenet, Jacques; 1000 Ocean Startups Impact Working Group: (1000 Ocean Startups Coalition, 2022)
    Creating positive impact for the ocean has never been more urgent. Measuring this impact, however, remains a critical challenge. To support innovators, their investors, and backers in charting these turbulent waters, this report presents the Ocean Impact Navigator, a new KPI impact framework for the Ocean Innovation Ecosystem. Ocean health is in peril. Multiple compounding stressors, including habitat destruction, overfishing, invasive species, pollution, and climate change, pose an existential threat to marine ecosystems and the crucial services they provide. These stressors and their cascading systemic impacts, combined with historic underinvestment in regenerative and nature-positive ocean sectors, are ushering in grave consequences for the 3 billion people worldwide who consume nutritious blue food, for coastal communities at risk of flooding, and for all those whose livelihoods and well-being relies on the ocean. Despite this bleak outlook, hope remains. The ocean holds astonishing potential for regeneration and, crucially, offers solutions that can address not only the threats it faces, but also the world’s broader climatic, biodiversity and social challenges. Capitalising on this potential, new start-ups and innovators are emerging, offering solutions to regenerate ocean health and catalyse the transition to a Sustainable Ocean Economy that unites effective ocean protection, sustainable production, and equitable prosperity. These innovations span a range of interrelated sectors – across food production, energy, biotech, data, transport, tourism, and solutions to pollution – that can drive systemic transformation in the blue economy. In parallel, new private and public capital is being mobilised for investment in the ocean, and incubators, accelerators, competitions, and matching platforms provide innovators with crucial backing and support. Together, these players make up the Ocean Impact Innovation (OII) ecosystem, largely encompassed by the 1000 Ocean Startups coalition
  • Transformational Opportunities for People, Ocean, and Planet.

    Lorin, Fries; Everett, Jeanne; Davies, Neil (Blue Climate Initiative, Tetiaroa Society, 2021)
    In 2020, the Blue Climate Initiative engaged with sixty multidisciplinary scientists and academic experts to identify the most promising Transformational Opportunities (TOPS) to address climate change using the power of the ocean, while serving humanity’s needs. Their insights are published in six thematic papers centered on food and nutrition, marine energy and transportation, biodiversity and nature-based solutions, mineral and genetic resources, health and well-being, and sustainable tourism. This Compendium presents over forty such TOPS that can sustain Earth’s people, steward our ocean, and heal our planet.
  • Executive Summary of "Building the Blue Innovation Pipeline: Lessons Learned from the United States and Sweden".

    Jordan, Stephen; Pelingon, Patrizia-Faith; Endres, Erin (Institute for Sustainable Development, 2023)
    While there are many exciting innovations taking place in the “blue” (water-based) economy, the findings of this study indicate that more investment in research and development (R&D) is economically justified. In fact, blue R&D is underfunded by at least 112% compared to worldwide benchmarks. Even if an additional $30-50B (billion) in global funding for R&D reduced the future risks of water environments and increased the economic rewards of water-based industries by just 10%, this would still deliver $183B worth of economic benefit and enhanced environmental protection.
  • Building the Blue Innovation Pipeline: Lessons Learned from the United States and Sweden.

    Jordan, Stephen; Pelingon, Patrizia-Faith; Endres, Erin (Institute for Sustainable Development, 2023)
    While there are many exciting innovations taking place in the “blue” (water-based) economy, the findings of this study indicate that more investment in research and development (R&D) is economically justified. In fact, blue R&D is underfunded by at least 112% compared to worldwide benchmarks. Even if an additional $30-50B (billion) in global funding for R&D reduced the future risks of water environments and increased the economic rewards of water-based industries by just 10%, this would still deliver $183B worth of economic benefit and enhanced environmental protection.
  • Science Action Plan (SAP) of CSK-2

    Lin, Xiaopei; Wahyudi, Aan Johan; Na, Hanna; Saito, Hiroaki; Iskanda, Iskhaq; Park, Jae-Hyoung; Irmudyawat, Lamona; Ando, Ken; Cronin, Meghan; Lobanov, Vyacheslav; et al. (IOC Sub-Commission for the Western Pacific, IOC/UNESCO, 2022)
    The Draft CSK-2 Science Action Plan (SAP) was prepared by the CSK-2 Task Force on SAP Development, which was formed as per the decision of the CSK-2 International Steering Group at its first meeting (virtual, 8 December 2021).
  • Half-Century of Scientific Advancements Since the Cooperative Study of the Kuroshio and Adjacent Regions (CSK) Programme - Need for a new Kuroshio Research

    Ando, Kentaro; Lin, Xiaopei; Villanoy, Cesar; Danchenkov, Mikhail; Lee, Jae-Hak; He, Hui-Jun; Liu, Qian; Liu, Yang; Lobanov, Vyacheslav; Ma, Xiao-Lin; et al. (2021)
    Progress in Oceanography
    Through the Cooperative Study of the Kuroshio and Adjacent Regions (CSK) program during 1965–1979, the capacities of current member states (MSs) of the Sub-Commission for the Western Pacific (WESTPAC) of the Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission (IOC) were enhanced with regard to regional ocean science and data management. Following the termination of the CSK in 1979, each MS continued the work to advance ocean science. The results of scientific studies of the Kuroshio and its adjacent regions have been published by various experts including many from the MSs of the WESTPAC; however, to-date, there has been no systematic approach to the research of the Kuroshio and its adjacent regions. This review considered the Kuroshio from the regional perspective of experts of the MSs, that is, from the perspectives of MSs, science, and the future prospects. Experts from each MS reviewed past activities and con tributions and reviewed the knowledge gaps in the fields of physical, biological, and biogeochemical science. Many scientific questions remain regarding the path of the Kuroshio from south to north, as well as associated phenomena, including mesoscale eddies and fronts, the important roles of ocean variations in adjacent regions, and the different roles and mechanisms of air–sea interactions in low- and mid-latitude areas. Despite consid erable effort by many biologists, substantial gaps remain in our biological knowledge of the region. The Kuroshio and its adjacent regions comprise one of the areas of the world with high biodiversity; however, there has been insufficient research into what is the cause of this high biodiversity. From a biogeochemical aspect, high resolution spatiotemporal observations will be required to understand interactions with physical processes both in the Kuroshio region and in the marginal seas. It has been highlighted that long-term fixed-location observations will be needed to understand the key mechanisms of biogeochemical processes, particularly in relation to climate change.