Linking Climate Extremes and Social-Environmental Dynamics: a trans-disciplinary pathway to enable climate solutions”

Ocean Science and Engineering Presents Dr. Emanuele Di Lorenzo

Linking Climate Extremes and SocialEnvironmental Dynamics: a trans-disciplinary pathway to enable climate solutions”

As a results of climate change, most environmental systems are experiencing an increase in regional climate and weather extremes that have profound social-ecological implications. 

An example is the set of climate extremes between 2013-2016 that resulted in one of the longest droughts over California, record-breaking warm surface temperatures in the North Pacific that disrupted marine ecosystems and fisheries (e.g. the Pacific Warm Blob), some of the coldest ocean temperatures ever recorded in the western North Atlantic, and the 2015-16 El Niño – which is one, if not the, largest climate event of the century. 

Here we show that these extremes are not independent but rather connected to specific large-scale ocean-atmosphere decadal fluctuations that originate from the coupling between tropical and extra-tropical climate dynamics, which some earth-system models predict are intensifying in a warmer climate. Most concerning is the evidence that ecological-environmental systems may amplify the variance of these decadal fluctuations. 

By combining an empirical stochastic model with long-term climate and ecosystems observations, we show how societally-relevant ecological systems that sustain ocean food production amplify the climate forcing. In the model, this climate amplification leads to the observed tendency for stronger synchrony across ecological systems with global-scale climate signals. 

This alignment of the ecological responses may lead to “ecosystem collapses” that increase the vulnerability of socialenvironmental systems that rely on ecosystem resources. These issues are particularly relevant in systems and communities wherein the human and natural dimensions strongly interact. 

To this end, we outline some novel approaches that rely on transdisciplinary research and multi-institutions partnerships to enable a wide-range of solutions to the growing climate threats.

Event Details


  • Wednesday, November 7, 2018
    3:00 pm - Thursday, November 8, 2018
    3:59 pm
Location: Ford Environmental, Science & Technology (ES&T) Building, Rm. L1205; 3pm
Fee(s): Free

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Emanuele Di Lorenzo