Free Metcalf Institute Webinars for Journalists: A New Perspective on Sea Level Rise & Getting to 1.5 Degrees

As part of our Climate Change and the News initiative to help journalists cover climate change, Metcalf Institute will host several free webinars for journalists in May. The webinars may be viewed live via, or on the Metcalf YouTube channel.

How Will Coastal Environments Respond to Sea Level Rise?
New Study Challenges Assumption that Drowning is the Only Scenario for Low-Lying Coasts
Tuesday, May 3, 2016
1:00 – 1:30 pm (EDT)

Recent studies have estimated that climate change could cause sea level to rise at rates much greater than those projected only a few years ago, drowning large areas of coastline in the process. But widespread coastal drowning may not provide a complete picture of anticipated sea level rise impacts; a recent study shows up to 70% of the coastline stretching from Maine to Virginia will likely change in response to sea level rise, rather than disappearing under water.

Join Metcalf Institute’s Climate Change and the News Webinar featuring the study’s lead author, Erika Lentz of the United States Geological Survey.

Using a novel modeling technique, the study produced a more nuanced picture of how sea level rise might form a mosaic of dry land, wetlands, and open seas, rather than a uniformly submerged shoreline. Barrier islands may migrate inland, build dunes, change shape or be split by new inlets, while marshes continue to trap sediment and break down decaying plants into new soil that could elevate them and keep pace with rising waters.

This study presents an approach that couples what we know about sea level rise impacts with what we still need to learn — how different ecosystems may respond to different sea-level rise scenarios — to estimate the likelihood that an area might change instead of simply drown. Lentz will take questions following a short presentation, during which she’ll share other aspects of the study that may lead to new story ideas.

Erika Lentz is a Research Geologist with the U.S. Geological Survey Coastal and Marine Science Center in Woods Hole, Massachusetts.  She received her PhD in Geology from the University of Rhode Island in 2010, and from 2012 to 2014 was a USGS Mendenhall Research Fellow.  Her research focuses on the processes that drive coastal change over a range of spatial and temporal scales in both natural and built environments.

Getting to 1.5°: What Will it Take?
Tuesday, May 17, 2016
1 – 1:30 pm (EDT)

This past December, 195 nations agreed to the goal of limiting global warming to no more than 1.5 degrees. Now, the question is: can we do it? 

Staying below a given global temperature target depends on many human factors–technology, demographics, energy policy, and economics. But it also depends on climate science; specifically, how sensitive the earth’s climate is to all the heat-trapping gases we’re pouring into it, and what it does with them. 

Join Katharine Hayhoe of Texas Tech University as she discusses the contributions and limitations of climate science to setting and achieving global targets.

Named one of Time Magazine’s 100 Most Influential People, Katharine Hayhoe is a prominent atmospheric scientist with a commitment to engaging citizens in discussions about climate change. Hayhoe served as a lead author for the Second and Third U.S. National Climate Assessments and won the American Geophysical Union’s Award for climate communication. She conducts her work at local to global scales, from evaluations of global climate model performance to climate impact assessments for organizations, cities and regions, from Boston Logan Airport to the state of California.