Around the Pier: UC San Diego Delegation Heads to Morocco for COP22

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They’ve conducted the research, packed their bags, and now some of the brightest minds in earth and ocean science are headed to Morocco! The largest-ever delegation of students and researchers from the University of California San Diego and Scripps Institution of Oceanography is headed to Marrakech for the upcoming 22nd Conference of the Parties (COP22), where they will inform international policy negotiations with climate science findings. (View Scripps at COP22 video here.)

An estimated 20,000 people from 196 participating countries will flock to the North African city from November 7-18 to participate in the annual global climate change policy conference, led by the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) and held each year at a different location around the world.

This 2016 University of California contingent of 23 researchers, students, and staff is part of the UC Revelle Program for Climate Science and Policy, a non-governmental organization that represents the UC system at the annual COP summit.

As a leader in understanding and protecting our planet, Scripps Oceanography comprises 17 of the total UC delegates, which includes an unprecedented 10 Scripps graduate students, five faculty members, one postdoctoral researcher, and one staff member. Two graduate students from UC San Diego’s School of Global Policy and Strategy will also participate in the conference, providing cross-campus collaboration and expertise in the field of public policy.

"Scripps Oceanography has been at the forefront of climate change research for more than half a century, and I’m very pleased that our world-class delegation of faculty and students will again be presenting the latest scientific research at COP22,” said Scripps Director Margaret Leinen. "Understanding the science behind global climate change and the role of the ocean in this change is critical for world leaders to make informed decisions about the future of our planet."

Throughout the two-week conference, Scripps Oceanography will have an increased presence from that of previous years by hosting its first-ever solo exhibit, titled, “Observations: From the Deep Sea to the Sky.” The booth—which will be paper-free in keeping with increased sustainability efforts—will highlight the critical programs and new observational technologies used by Scripps and the climate science community that help national and regional governments understand the hydrological cycle.

Scripps will showcase how these advanced instruments allow scientists to monitor and understand the effects of climate change on the environment, revealing a clear picture of potential instability affecting everything from deep-ocean ecosystems to the phenomena governing monsoons, atmospheric rivers, and other vital sources of water for society.

Members of the UC delegation, including graduate students, will also participate in a record number of press conferences and panel discussions that showcase Scripps science and demonstrate the importance the ocean plays in regulating climate across the globe.

The broad scope of COP22-related activities will give Scripps graduate students the opportunity to share and communicate important research with people ranging from policymakers to the public.

“I am absolutely honored to represent Scripps science at COP22,” said Charlotte Beall, a third-year Scripps PhD student studying climate science and first-time COP attendee.

Beall and Scripps Professor Amato Evan will participate in a press conference on Nov. 16 where they will discuss how a more arid environment increases dust emissions and erosion, and how dust emissions, through long-range transport, can significantly influence precipitation in locations thousands of miles away from the source.

“By attending COP22, I am hoping to engage diverse groups of climate and water resource stakeholders in research on aerosol-cloud-precipitation interactions, and to facilitate connections between climate and aerosol scientists in the U.S. and climate scientists in critical regions of the world,” said Beall.

Third-year Scripps graduate student Rishi Sugla will also be attending the conference for the first time, and said he’s thrilled to have the opportunity to serve as an ocean ambassador in a setting where he can learn about science policy firsthand.

“There is a lot of wonderful science done at Scripps that has potential to not only influence policy, but also have real positive impacts on the day-to-day life of people around the world. However, there is often a disconnect between those who work on the ground and policymakers with the ongoing scientific research,” said Sugla, a geoscience student. “It’s clear that Scripps is trying to bridge this gap, and while at COP22 I hope to understand how an international climate agreement is developed and constructed, as well as the role of science—or lack thereof—in the process.”

The outcome of COP21, last year’s conference held in Paris, was a landmark agreement to fight climate change signed by 195 countries, as well as inclusion of ocean science in final COP agreements text for the first time.  The delegation at COP22 will build upon the successes of COP21 and carry forth the message of the ocean’s crucial role in absorbing the impacts of climate change.

This year, Scripps Oceanography is collaborating with the government of Chile toward the broad goal of including the oceans in nationally determined contributions to a greater extent. A press conference on Nov. 8 will showcase this international research partnership and its studies on marine ecosystems.

Veerabhadran Ramanathan, a distinguished Scripps professor of climate and atmospheric sciences, will hold a high-level press conference on Nov. 14, where he will be discussing countries’ prospects for holding global warming to 1.5° above pre-industrial levels.

Distinguished Scripps Professor Lisa Levin, Scripps graduate students Natalya Gallo and Kirk Sato, and international colleagues will hold a press conference on Nov. 10 that focuses on the role of the deep sea in climate mitigation, impacts of rising CO2 on deep-sea ecosystems and their services, law and policy gaps for climate and the high seas/deep sea, and deep-ocean research and observation in a climate context.

Other Scripps-led press events include a Nov. 9 discussion on the global warming hiatus, presented by Distinguished UC San Diego Professor and former Scripps Director Charles Kennel and graduate student Dillon Amaya; a Nov. 11 presentation about monitoring the global carbon cycle and heat budget through observing systems, presented by Scripps Associate Professor Todd Martz and graduate student Yassir Eddebbar; and a Nov. 15 discussion on the fate of marine protected areas in  future oceans, led by Scripps postdoctoral scholar Maya deVries and graduate students Travis Schramek and Sato.

Scripps students will also participate in “Oceans Action Day” on Nov. 12, a day of ocean-themed science discussions and events organized as part of the UNFCCC Global Climate Action Agenda. This event will further highlight and build upon a strategic five-year action plan on oceans and climate that was first showcased during Oceans Day at COP21.

“It’s a wonderful opportunity to be participating in COP22 since the Paris Agreement from last year’s meeting will come into force at the onset of this meeting,” said Sugla, reflecting the enthusiasm expressed by nearly the entire UC delegation. “After wanting to attend the last two meetings, I’m psyched to finally have a shot to go.”

Longtime Scripps supporters Ellen Lehman, David and Peg Engel, Gail Fliesbach, philanthropic investment fund Global Good, and others provided funding to send the student delegates to COP22.

Follow the UC San Diego delegation throughout their COP22 journey as members present live news via several social media channels including Twitter @scripps_ocean and @ucrevelle, Facebook, and Instagram.

Scripps Oceanography is training the next generation in climate science and policy – join us for an information session on Friday, December 2 at 2 p.m. Pacific time to learn more about our one‐year professional master's program! The Master of Advanced Studies in Climate Science and Policy is a unique interdisciplinary program responding to increasing global need for experts who understand and can act on scientific issues and policy challenges facing our planet. The intensive, one-year program provides professionals with an unparalleled opportunity to be trained amid a remarkable array of climate science research, set in a breathtaking location. Please RSVP to mas-csp@sio.ucsd.edu.

Brittany Hook

Related Image Gallery: Scripps Oceanography at COP22 Photo Gallery

Related Video: Scripps Oceanography at COP22

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