At COP22, YO! hosted a side event entitled “A bridge between Science and Policy”. Key messages were delivered on science, policy-making and the interactions between them. The program included two SCRIPPS students (see below), as well as three policy makers:
- Abdelmalek Faraj, who introduced us to the concept of the Moroccan Blue belt ;
- Ronald Jumeau, who explained to us that Small Island Developing States (SIDS) should rather be considered as “Big Ocean States” ;
- Bran Quinquis, who reassured us that French Polynesia was absolutely committed to the preservation of the ocean.
When dynamic, non-linear systems move from one state of stability into another, this transition is called a tipping point. It often occurs because of positive feedback loops.
Put pressure on an ecosystem. Push, push, push until you reach a point where system’s dynamic rapidly changes and finds a different equilibrium. Changes are then long lasting and reversal is difficult. Challenges for local communities, for food and for safety, can be huge.
It remains a challenge for scientists not only to discover, but also to predict the existence of tipping points. We already know a variety of tipping points : changes in ENSO*, oxygen, glacial melting, biological and chemical cycles in the ocean, reef systems, etc.
Given that ~70% of the world’s population lives within close proximity to the oceans, potential tipping points in marine or coastal ecosystems will affect many people. People already living on the margin can be pushed over the edge with a collapse in their local ecosystem.
*ENSO = Acronym of El Niño and Southern Oscillation, it is a climatic phenomenon coupling El Niño to regular oscillation of atmospheric pressure above the Sea.
Rishi Sugla, PhD student at the SCRIPPS Institution of Oceanography, USA
We need more data, reliable, standardized, and collected over a long time. We need this kind of good data to provide policy makers with solid science, and long-term understanding of changes happening in our ocean.
The SCRIPPS developed autonomous gliders able to go back and forth from the coast to the upper ocean, and down to the deep ocean, and passing through the same points. They provide us with a quantity of data that helps predict what will happen, and explain current phenomena. We can measure salinity, oxygenation, temperature, and other parameters in places and over long time that we were unable to reach before, or at a much higher cost.
Now that this system is working in California, we have to share our practice and understanding in other places in the world. Regional data on each continent could very useful to understand the local consequences of climate change and prepare adapting to them.
Young scientists are increasingly networking, working together and exchanging, and this is of precious help for the future.
Katherine Zaba, PhD student at the SCRIPPS Institution of Oceanography, USA