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Number 635 • October 23, 2014 | Past Issues













Defending Against Climate: Pentagon Sees Threats Written on the Climate Change Wall

While many in Washington are still wrestling with the realities of climate change, the Department of Defense has joined the ranks of those preparing to address its impacts.

The Department last week released the 2014 Climate Change Adaptation Roadmap to tackle climate-induced threats to national security, including issues such as extreme weather, rising seas, food insecurity, and other climate-related woes. These cascading impacts could threaten military infrastructure and require increased military response to disasters and civil unrest, according to the 20-page report.

“In our defense strategy, we refer to climate change as a “threat multiplier” because it has the potential to exacerbate many of the challenges we are dealing with today—from infectious disease to terrorism,” writes Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel in the report. “A changing climate will have real impacts on our military and the way it executes its missions.”

To address those impacts, risk reduction measures will be implemented across operations for the entire department, according to the report. Military operations, infrastructure, training, and supply chains will all be assessed. The breadth of the plan is reflective of how far reaching the Department views the threat to be.

 “The loss of glaciers will strain water supplies in several areas of our hemisphere. Destruction and devastation from hurricanes can sow the seeds for instability. Droughts and crop failures can leave millions of people without any lifeline, and trigger waves of mass migration,” the Associated Press reports Hagel telling military leaders last week. “We have already seen these events unfold in other regions of the world, and there are worrying signs that climate change will create serious risks to stability in our own hemisphere.”

Those remarks, delivered at the Conference of Defense Ministers of the Americas, signify more than a burgeoning awareness of climate change as a security threat, said Sherri W. Goodman, senior vice president at CNA Corporation, a nonprofit think tank that analyzes policy and decisionmaking.

“It’s significant that the secretary is focusing his remarks at the defense ministers’ meeting of the Americas on natural disasters and climate change,” she told the New York Times. “His making it a priority among the many other things he has to address — ISIS, Ebola, Russia — is a signal that the administration intends to place a priority on this in international climate change negotiations.”

That may be so, but the report also makes clear that the Department’s intent is less about the philosophical aspects of climate change and more about simply reading the writing on the wall.

“While scientists are converging toward consensus on future climate projections, uncertainty remains,” Hagel writes. “But this cannot be an excuse for delaying action. Politics or ideology must not get in the way of sound planning. Our armed forces must prepare for a future with a wide spectrum of possible threats, weighing risks and probabilities to ensure that we will continue to keep our country secure.”

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Yes California, There Is Climate-Induced Drought: Study Connects Greenhouse Gases with Dryer Weather

California has seen unprecedented drought over the last several years and one of the questions often asked is whether climate change is playing a role. Answers have varied—yes, no, maybe—with most scientists erring on the side of caution. Recently, though, the science has pointed toward yes.

The apparent cause of the drought—the high-pressure ridge in the Pacific west of California—is more likely to form in the presence of high greenhouse gas concentrations, according to research from Stanford University climate scientists and colleagues. The researchers used a combination of computer simulations and statistical techniques to reach the conclusion.

“Our research finds that extreme atmospheric high pressure in this region—which is strongly linked to unusually low precipitation in California—is much more likely to occur today than prior to the emission of greenhouse gases that began during the Industrial Revolution in the 1800s,” Stanford climate scientist Noah Diffenbaugh stated in a news release.

The high-pressure area, which has been dubbed the “ridiculously resilient ridge,” diverts winds from the jet stream to the north, causing Pacific storms to bypass California, Oregon, and Washington.

“Winds respond to the spatial distribution of atmospheric pressure,” said Daniel Swain, lead author of a paper published about the findings. "We have seen this amazingly persistent region of high pressure over the northeastern Pacific for many months, which has substantially altered atmospheric flow and kept California largely dry.”

The drought is also causing the western United States to “rise up like an uncoiled spring,” according to a study by scientists at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography.
Scripps researchers Adrian Borsa, Duncan Agnew, and Dan Cayan found that the water shortage is causing an “uplift” effect up to half an inch or more in California's mountains and an average 0.15 of an inch across the West. Using GPS data, they estimated the water deficit at nearly 62 trillion gallons of water— the equivalent to a six-inch layer of water spread out over the entire western United States, according to a news release.

But a report in the Los Angeles Times offers the mildly optimistic news that even a prolonged seven decades of mega-drought would not turn California in a “giant, abandoned dust bowl.”

There have been droughts that prolonged in the past, and will certainly occur again. If it did, there’d be a substantial decrease in irrigated farmland, urban lawns would disappear (as would some salmon runs), and sewage and wastewater would be cleaned up and reused, according to a 2010 study outlined in the article.

“The weather record that we tend to depend on in California for allocating water … is based on about 150 years of really quite wet conditions when you look back at, say, the last 8,000 years or so," Cal State East Bay paleoclimatologist Scott Stine told the Times.

Under the extended drought scenario, cities largely did okay with the exception of higher water costs, UC Davis Center for Watershed Sciences director Jay Lund, who conducted the study, told the paper.

“They did more water conservation and wastewater reuse, a little ocean desalination, and purchased some water from farms," he said, referring to the study’s scenarios. “So the predominant part of the population and economy felt the drought, but was not devastated by it.”

“[Mega-drought] doesn't mean no water," Peter Gleick, president of the Pacific Institute told the paper. “It will mean using what we get more effectively.”

—Dan Whipple, Editor, Natural Hazards Observer

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Need Info on Ebola? The Natural Hazards Center Has You Covered

The deluge of information on Ebola can make it difficult to locate the resources you really need. Luckily, the Natural Hazards Center librarians have made finding trustworthy information a little easier.

Our new Ebola Resources Page is a searchable, easy-to-navigate collection of news articles, reports, web resources, and publications designed to keep you in the know about the unfolding pandemic, as well as historical outbreaks, public health resources, and expert advice. The page is updated daily, so check it out now, and check back later, too!

Call Outs: Calls for Papers, Abstracts, Proposals, and More

Call for Applications
CDC Ebola Safety Training Travel Grants
International Society for Infectious Diseases
Deadline: Open until funds are depleted

The International Society for Infections Diseases is offering travel grants to individuals attending the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Ebola safety training courses being held in Anniston, Alabama.  Licensed clinicians that have been admitted to the class and have plans to deploy to West Africa are eligible. Grants will be accepted on a rolling basis and distributed until funds are depleted. For more information and to apply for funds, visit the grant page linked above.


Call for Applications

National Disaster Resilience Competition
U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development
Deadline: November 2, 2014
The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and the Rockefeller foundation is accepting applications for a competition that will award nearly $1 billion in funds to eligible communities to help them better prepare for and recover from disaster. States and some local governments that experienced at least one presidentially declared disaster from 2011-2013 are eligible to submit applications that address unmet needs. For more information on the competition and eligibility, see the HUD factsheet linked above.


Call for Applications

Grand Challenges in Global Health Grants
Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation
Deadline: Various
The Grand Challenges in Global Health program is accepting applications for grants in a variety of areas, including putting women and girls at the center of development, new interventions for global health, fighting Ebola, addressing malaria transmission, and new diagnostic and surveillance tools for vector control. Grants are awarded through a streamlined process that allows anyone with a good idea to apply regardless of academic background or expertise. For more information on the program, topic areas, or how to apply, visit the Grand Challenges Web site.

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Some New Web Resources

Ebola Overview Templates
Giving a presentation on Ebola soon? This handy template created by U.S. Department of Health and Human Services will be helpful to those looking to provide healthcare workers and organizations with information about the outbreak, the challenges it poses, and everything from identifying cases to shipping specimens. The 35 slides are fully fleshed out and complete with illustrations, so all you’ll need to do is talk.


Wildland Fire Map

Where’s the fire? This app will show you fast with real-time fire maps and fire incident information, such as fire size, location, path, and current. The free app is fueled by real-time data from NASA satellites, NEXRAD radar, and ArcGIS technology, so you’ll get information fast. The one drawback—only available on iOS platforms for now. Sorry Android users.


World Disaster Report 2014—Focus on Culture and Risk

This year’s Disaster Report from the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies takes a look at how culture disaster risk reduction, as well as the impacts disaster has on cultures. The report was created with the idea that incorporating culture and religion into disaster vulnerability assessments could help humanitarian organizations better engage with local communities in communicating about and preparing for disasters.


Talking With Children: Tips for Caregivers, Parents, and Teachers During Infectious Disease Outbreaks

The constant barrage of Ebola in the news is enough to scare many adults, so imagine what kids who hear about it must think. Luckily the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration has created this simple factsheet to help adults ease some of those fears. The resource covers possible reactions and ways to talk about them by age group. It also includes a list of helpful resources for those times when kids need a little more help working through it.

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Conferences and Events

[Below are some recent announcements received by the Natural Hazards Center. For a comprehensive list of upcoming hazards-related meetings, visit our Web site at]

November 18-20, 2014
Business Preparedness and Business Continuity Conference
Emergency Preparedness for Industry and Commerce Council
Vancouver, Canada
Deadline and Registration: $720, open until filled

This conference will address the need for awareness and guidelines for emergency preparedness in healthcare facilities, provide emergency response resources for practitioners, and examine recent disasters. Topics include catastrophic earthquake preparedness, municipal flood bylaws, using social media for emergency warnings, West Coast tsunami innovations, and climate adaptation for local governments.


December 3-4, 2014
Public Awareness as a cornerstone of Disaster Risk Reduction Conference
Emergency Channel Information Center
Yerevan, Armenia
Deadline and Registration: Free, open until filled
This conference will look at emergency communication and public awareness in the context of disaster risk reduction. The aim of the conference is to collect feedback to be presented at the 2015 Disaster Risk Reduction World Conference in Sendai, Japan. Topics include lessons by disasters, effective information management, safety culture and kids, how media and information agencies operate in emergencies, public awareness indicators, and the humanitarian experience in communication and public awareness.


December 3-5, 2014
15th U.S.-Japan Workshop on Improvement of Structural Engineering and Resiliency
Applied Technology Council
Kohala Coast, Hawaii
Cost and Registration: $575 before November 26, open until filled
This conference will develop policy recommendations for community resilience with a focus on building resiliency, reducing economic losses, and speeding recovery and reconstruction following natural disasters. Topics include risk identification and reduction, performance-based engineering, multihazards resiliency modeling, the reconstruction and recovery process, and humanitarian engineering.


December 10-11, 2014
2014 ISDS Conference
International Society for Disease Surveillance
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Cost and Registration: $655 before November 17, open until filled
This conference highlights key challenges for the public health surveillance community, including incorporating the latest approaches, methodologies, and results into data-driven practices, programs, and policies. Topics include biosurveillance and policy issues, mapping using ArcGIS, data systems and algorithms, and the basics of biosurveillance.


February 23-25, 2015
Climate Leadership Conference
The Climate Registry, Center for Climate and Energy Solutions, and others
Washington, D.C.
Cost and Registration: Not Listed
This conference will examine climate change through the lenses of policy, innovation, and business solutions. Topics include climate policy and carbon markets, identifying climate risks, using data to inform climate strategies, cultivating employee engagement, the energy-water nexus, long-term energy planning, climate risk and the supply chain, and climate projections and implications.

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Jobs, Jobs, Jobs

Emergency Management Recovery Specialist, GS-12
Federal Emergency Management Agency
Chicago, Illinois
Salary: $76,157 to $99,002
Deadline: October 31, 2014

This position represents programs which provides assistance to individuals, households and businesses for loses sustained in a presidentially declared disaster. Duties include communicating with tribal partners regarding relevant policy updates or legislative changes, developing community engagement strategies, coordinating rapid response to disasters, and analyzing developing emergencies for possible declaration. One year of experience at the GS-11 level and specialized experience liaising with tribal organizations is required.


Director of the Office of Emergency Management

Multnomah County
Portland, Oregon
Salary: $90,000 to $140,000
Deadline: November 17, 2014
This position will lead the Multnomah County Office of Emergency Management as it prepares for and responds to disasters and emergencies. Duties including building and maintaining relationships with regional stakeholders, provide leadership to emergency staff, determine the office’s strategic direction, identify training needs, integrate operation with other county offices, and direct the preparation of the comprehensive emergency management plan. A bachelor’s degree in emergency management, public administration or a related field, 5 years emergency management experience, supervisory skills, and policy planning and analysis ability are required.


Disaster Management Coordinator

World Relief
Baltimore, Maryland
Salary: Not listed
Deadline: Open until filled
This position will manage operational and technical assistance needs for the organization’s disaster response and risk reduction programs. Duties include developing a disaster response methodology, strengthening community-based disaster risk reduction, conducting preparedness and vulnerability assessment training, and networking with donors. Education or experience in humanitarian disaster response, strong project planning ability, and 3-5 years experience working in a developing country are required.


Disaster Behavioral Health Technical Assistance Team Lead

Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration
Washington, D.C.
Salary: Not Listed
Deadline: Open until filled
This position will plan projects, conduct literature reviews, and maintain a resource library for the SAMHSA Disaster Technical Assistance Center. Duties include supervising the technical assistance team, providing technical assistance in the field, collecting and developing resources and materials, and conducting training and presentations. A degree in social sciences, mental health, or pubic health, 4 to 6 years of experience, and the ability to travel are required.

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Webinars, Training, and Education

Online Course
Jail Evacuation and Planning
National Sheriffs’ Association
Cost and Registration: $50, registration is ongoing

This online course offers jail administrators and trainers instruction on how to plan and execute an jail evacuation. Course topics include identifying security weaknesses, creating an evacuation plan, reestablishing jail functions at a new site, and repopulation of the original site, and possible legal liability. Coursework must be completed within 70 days of beginning the course. Completed courses are eligible for one college credit.


Multihazard Emergency Planning for Schools
March 9-12, 2015
Emergency Management Institute
Emmitsburg, Maryland

Cost and Registration: Free, register before February 23, 2014
This training will provide school professionals with the tools and knowledge needed to create an all-hazards school emergency operations plan. Course topics will include conducting needs assessments, developing response and recovery procedures, and establishing a sustainable action plan.

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