Climate Change and the News: Impacts in Marine and Coastal Environments

Program Summary | Agenda & Speaker Presentations | Speaker Bios | Participant List | Resources List
Seminar on Climate Policy & Economics | Climate Change and the News Initiative

April 24-25, 2014
The Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars
1300 Pennsylvania Avenue
Washington, D.C.

April 24 Agenda

(Click on speaker’s name to view presentations)

9:30 – 9:45 Welcome and Introductions
Meaghan Parker, The Wilson Center; Ann Peters, The Pulitzer Center; Sunshine Menezes, Metcalf Institute

Session 1: Introduction to Climate Change Science & Policy
The first session of this two-day seminar will provide strong scientific and policy foundations for journalists covering the broad implications of climate change summarized in the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Fifth Assessment Report.

9:45 – 10:45 Introduction to Climate Change Science: Setting the Stage
Phil Duffy, US Global Change Research Program; Chris Forest, Pennsylvania State University
Speakers will introduce the physical science of climate change, the differences between weather and climate, and the interactions of Earth’s atmosphere and ocean. This discussion will provide a solid understanding of the drivers of climate change.

10:45 – 11:00 Break

11:00 – 12:00 Managing the Problem: Climate Change Policy Approaches
Ekundayo Shittu, The George Washington University; Nicholas Bianco, World Resources Institute/New Climate Economy Institute/New Climate Economy
With the recent release of the IPCC Working Group III report, there is growing recognition of the need for global-scale action to mitigate climate change. A variety of regional, national and international initiatives are underway to develop climate change mitigation and adaptation strategies. Presenters will describe some of these efforts, as well as perspectives on successes and failures.

12:00 – 12:15 Data Download
Unscheduled time for participating journalists to ask questions of speakers and discuss topics addressed during the morning sessions.

12:15 – 1:15 Networking Lunch

Session 2: Ocean Acidification and Ecosystem Impacts
Warming temperatures, shifting ocean currents and chemistry, and changing precipitation patterns can cause a cascade of effects in marine ecosystems. Speakers will describe observed and projected regional effects as well as the broader implications of these changes.

1:15 – 2:30 A pH Balancing Act: Ocean Acidification
Sarah Cooley, Ocean Conservancy; Whitman Miller, Smithsonian Environmental Research Center; Alyson Myers, Kegotank Farm
Having recently recorded the highest-ever measured level of atmospheric carbon dioxide, researchers are increasingly concerned about how this greenhouse gas will make ocean waters more acidic. Speakers will describe the process of ocean acidification and how this shift in ocean chemistry is affecting marine life and threatening the livelihoods of people dependent on those ocean dwellers.

2:30 – 2:45 Break

2:45 – 4:00 Ecosystem Impacts
Roger Griffis, NOAA Fisheries Service; Rick Robins, Mid-Atlantic Fisheries Management Council
Warmer temperatures can affect organisms’ physiology, restrict species’ habitat ranges, and alter entire communities. When combined with shifts in ocean chemistry and precipitation, highly productive estuarine environments and fisheries are subject to a cascading series of ecosystem-scale effects. This session will provide insights into the observed and projected ecosystem effects in marine fisheries.

4:00 – 4:30
Data Download
This moderated discussion will give participants time to clarify points of uncertainty from the day’s presentations.

4:30  Seminar Adjourns


April 25 Agenda

9:00 – 9:05 Welcome
Sunshine Menezes, URI Metcalf Institute for Marine & Environmental Reporting

Session 3: Coastal Inundation and Covering Incremental Science
This final session of the seminar will provide participants with a foundational understanding of sea level rise impacts in coastal regions. It will also feature an in-depth discussion about how journalists can approach climate change, an extraordinarily challenging topic for both reporters and news audiences, by nationally recognized environment reporters.

9:05 – 10:30 Sea Level Rise and Shoreline Change
Ben Strauss, Climate Central; Ben Horton, Rutgers University Institute of Marine and Coastal Science; Jessica Grannis, Georgetown Climate Center
Coastal zones offer an early indication of the future effects of climate change, as sea level rise and shifting shorelines cause public safety, economic, and political consequences across the globe. This session will describe observed and projected regional changes in sea level, as well as the implications of related storm surge, coastal flooding, and erosion for coastal wetlands, coastal infrastructure, and public policy.

10:30 – 10:45 Break

10:45 – 12:30 How to Bring Life to Climate Change Stories
Craig Welch, The Seattle Times; Seth Borenstein, The Associated Press; Steve Sapienza, Documentary Producer
Climate change can be an especially difficult story to cover because of its complexity and slow timelines. This interactive session will provide insights and tips from accomplished reporters whose reporting on climate change has been lauded for its accuracy, accessibility, and originality.

12:30 – 1:15 Networking Lunch

1:15 Adjourn

Click here to view the YouTube playlist for these presentations.


Funding for this Climate Change and the News seminar was provided by:

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