By Dr. Jen Karberg, Research Program Supervisor

This summer saw the release of the the first section of the IPCC’s (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change) sixth comprehensive assessment. The assessment is a review of the work of thousands of scientists working on climate change and the goal of the assessment is to provide the most comprehensive and solid guidance to help us address climate change.

Trailer: Climate Change 2021: the Physical Science Basis from IPCC on Vimeo.

So what did this summer’s report look like? You can read the whole report here but it has solidified our understanding of what to expect in the future. Some of the key take away messages include:

  • Climate change is undeniably human-driven. The newest “hockey stick” graph of global temperatures includes the year 2020 and looks at temperatures model from 1850 with and without fossil fuel burning carbon emissions (see the graph below).
  • Compounding climate impacts better understood ie. drought and extreme weather.
  • Sea level changes will likely continue occurring for millenia and the risk of extreme sea level rise is connected to hard to predict events, like massive ice calving in the arctic.
  • Very clear message that individual, business, government and country behaviors need to adapt now to prevent extreme climate change scenarios.
Changes in global surface temperature relative to 1850-1900. (a) Change in global surface temperature (decadal average) as reconstructed (1-2000) and observed (1850-2020); (b) Change in global surface temperature (annual average) as observed and simulated using human & natural factors (tan) and only natural factors (teal) (both 1850-2020). (Image credit: Figure SPM.1 from AR6 WGI Summary of Policymakers, courtesy IPCC.)

So how are we to find hope in an assessment like this? Over the next few months, the IPCC will release two more assessments to finalize their work: 1) impacts, adaptation and vulnerability and 2) mitigation – how do we reduce our impacts. These assessments will give direction on the large scale.

On the local scale, many coastal communities in New England have already begun working to understand their risk and vulnerability and what the next steps are. Nantucket Island, as a community has been doing this work since January 2019 when we completed the MA Municipal Vulnerability Preparedness Program and created the Coastal Resilience Advisory Committee. Working with experienced consultants – Nantucket is in the midst of developing an island-wide coastal resilience plan. The plan has analyzed risk and vulnerability to climate change impacts across the island and will provide a roadmap for our Town to adapt in the future. This plan is due to be delivered to the Nantucket community by the end of September.

Staying engaged in local initiatives and working to understand climate change in your community is one of the best ways to gain hope for how we will face climate change impacts.

For the second year in a row, Nantucket Island officially recognizes September as Climate Change Awareness Month.

“We, the Select Board of the Town of Nantucket in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, do hearby officially proclaim the month of September, 2021, is ‘Climate Change Awareness Month’ and do hereby encourage all residents to learn more about the threats of climate change and sea level rise and the planning efforts underway to increase community resilience.

Organizations across Nantucket will be presenting so many different events from walks to coffee roundtables to presentations and more. Full calendar of Climate Change Awareness events can be found on the ACKlimate website.

At NCF, we are participating in two different events to share our expertise: Climate Change Walks at Folger’s Marsh and Climate, Coffee and Conversation: Resilience in Landscapes in partnership with ReMain and Envision Resilience Nantucket Challenge.

Sutherland Museum Photo Sutherland Museum Photo

There are TWO chances to join NCF on a walk and explore how sea level rise and climate change is already impacting natural areas on our island. Using the salt marshes, wetlands, barrier beaches and uplands at the UMASS Field Station, we will guide you through the current stressors of climate and as well as the benefits these natural areas provide to buffer Nantucket from sea level rise.

Saturday September 11th and Saturday September 18th 9-11am

Walks are FREE but registration is required!

The second event is a kick off of the Envision Resilience Nantucket Challenge Fall Climate, Coffee and Conversation Roundtable. You can join myself as well as Sarah Bois (Linda Loring Nature Foundation) and Emily Molden (Nantucket Land Council) as we talk about Resilience in Landscapes and explore the importance of open space as a way to respond to climate change. Monday September 27th 10am.

The Roundtable is FREE but registration is required!

And there are MANY more opportunities to learn about Nantucket and climate change in September and hopefully bring a little more hope into the conversation.

As you explore Nantucket and learn more about Climate Change on island – share what you learn on social media! Help spread awareness, share the facts you learn and tag @ackconservation !

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The Nantucket Conservation Foundation is a private, non-profit land trust that depends on contributions from our members to support our science projects, conservation property acquisitions and land management efforts. If you are not already a member, please join us now!