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Climate Action 2014-2015

INNOVATIVE TECHNOLOGIES

INNOVATIVE TECHNOLOGIES TO HELP PROTECT COASTAL AREAS By Dr Porfirio Alvarez Torres, National Polytechnic Institute, Mexico "MEXICOOS will establish a centralised accessible hub to share data and information." The natural habitats of the Gulf of Mexico and the Caribbean Sea provide protection to the coasts and people from the impacts of climate change and particularly sea level rise. But Mexico needs to enhance its coastal and ocean observing capabilities and to focus on integration of the few existing human, technical and data resources scattered in several institutions. The country has limited infrastructure to forecast and to track the main environmental hazards: red tides, algal blooms, coastal erosion, storm surges, flooding and those derived from oil spills, ship grounding, maritime traffic and fishing vessels among others. Human settlements may be lost as rising sea levels will erase wetlands, some barrier islands, sea grass meadows, oyster reefs and coral reefs. Many Gulf wetlands are already submerged; increased water depth results in less light being available for sea grasses and corals, and more turbidity for oysters. Several examples have occurred in recent years of intense storms and flooding, which damage infrastructure, threatening massive loss of property and life. In addition, ocean acidification and increased temperature interact to affect marine organisms. MEXICOOS: AN ACCESSIBLE HUB FOR INFORMATION The National Polytechnic Institute (IPN) is currently working towards the implementation of the Mexican Integrated Coastal and Ocean Observing System (MEXICOOS), to support robust and continuous assessment of the environmental and oceanographic conditions of the entire Mexican Economic Exclusive Zone and the 1,992 km of the Gulf, Mexico and Caribbean coasts, monitoring the marine and coastal habitat and the infrastructure, assessing the risks for people and economies. MEXICOOS will establish a centralised accessible hub to share data and information to analyse both the impacts and solutions to climate change and sea level rise. IPN is committed to address the gap between scientific literature and knowledge transfer and aims to conduct a risk and vulnerability assessment of Mexico’s Gulf of Mexico and Caribbean coasts under different sea level rise and habitat degradation scenarios. Through the coastal and ocean observing system IPN will enhance our understanding of where coasts are most vulnerable and where solutions are emerging. This project is unique because it quantifies the economic role of habitat to protect Mexico’s coasts and marine resources; it is deeply participatory, and will be linked to the Federal Government Ministry of the Navy currently in charge of the National Oceanographic Archives. HARMONISING THE SYSTEMS There is a crucial need to harmonise COOS techniques and information systems. The technical models set out in the US and in Europe through years of research and development will be a valuable base to prototype the ‘MEXICOOS architecture’ and to validate it in the Gulf of Mexico. Mexico must reinforce internal coordination, define a COOS strategy and model, and thereafter keep an open dialogue in developing long-term technology. The country must build a critical MEXICOOS capacity, implementing strategies towards resiliency of coastal and maritime ecosystems, human communities and infrastructure in the face of climate change. www.ipn.mx 76

THE FUTURE IS PRICELESS – THE HUMAN CONSEQUENCES OF THE RISING SEA LEVEL WHERE WILL WE GO? Photographs by Kadir van Lohuizen Sea level rise is one of the anticipated consequences of climate change. This will cause some low-lying coastal areas to become completely submerged, while others will increasingly face shortlived surges and high-water levels. These anticipated changes could have a major impact on the lives of coastal populations. For the past two years photo journalist Kadir van Lohuizen has been looking at the global consequences of rising sea levels caused by climate change. He has traveled and photographed in Kiribati, Fiji, Carteret atolls (Papua New Guinea), Bangladesh, and Guna Yala (Panama) as well as in the United States of America and the United Kingdom. This multimedia exhibition is designed to highlight both the immense complexities associated with in-island and inter-island country movement where people are already trying to adapt to sea level rise, as well as the specific human rights implications involved with such involuntary movements. The exhibition composition is mixed, including still photographs, audio, video and text. WHERE: Jardin Vivero, Voices for the Climate, Jockey Club del Peru, Lima, Peru WHEN: From 1 to 12 December 2014 – 10 AM to 10 PM daily