Climate Change

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Climate Change

Our regions of study—the tropics, coastal and island ecosystems, and high-elevation habitats—are projected to be some of the most strongly affected by climate change.

The repercussive effects of climate change are therefore central in framing concepts of SFS programs. Because our Centers are embedded within local networks of governments, organizations, and communities, students examine the diverse ways climate change affects ecosystems and livelihoods. Through coursework and analysis of ecological and social data, students gain a nuanced understanding of the mechanisms driving risk, adaptation, and resilience.

 



The Wet Tropics of Far North Queensland are viewed as a “canary in the coal mine” in observing the effects of climate change. Climate models predict the loss of more than half of all regionally endemic bird and mammal species. The iconic Great Barrier Reef, lying off the coast of Queensland, is also under threat. Students investigate the potential responses and resilience of biotic communities to climate change and major climactic events.


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Climate change is severely impacting Bhutan—extreme weather events, landslides, flash floods, and glacial lake outburst floods are threatening people and ecosystems. SFS students learn about environmental policies and laws and mitigation strategies for dealing with climate change. Students also have the opportunity to discuss the topic with policymakers and planners at the national and local level.


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Climate change issues permeate all courses; however, in Cambodia we examine these issues specifically in relation to climate change ethics and governance and livelihood resilience. Climate change is examined in depth in the Mekong Delta. Students participate in interviews in Cambodia and upload the responses to the Climate Crowd database, have guest lectures from Can Tho University professors in Vietnam on climate change, undertake a field trip in the delta on climate change vulnerability, and participate in a group activity on climate change displacement.


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Academic programming in Costa Rica concentrates on the impacts of climate change across the socioeconomic and environmental axes of sustainable development. Climate change is challenging the sustainable development goals of the country and threatening its biodiversity, which has attracted millions of tourists. Students assess public perception of the problems and solutions associated with climate-related environmental impacts.


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We devote an entire week of our curriculum solely to focus on the impacts of climate change on the small nation of Panama as well as at the local level in Bocas del Toro. Through mock-UN debate, students prepare to address climate change issues facing Panama. Students perform coral bleaching and coral disease assessments within the Isla Bastimentos National Marine Park to quantify the current and future impacts of climate change on coral reef ecosystems.


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Students learn firsthand how climate change is impacting the ecological patterns and processes that underpin the extraordinary biodiversity of the Amazon. Students explore the effects of climate change through the concepts of ecological resilience, dispersal and divergence of species, and the value of ecosystem services.


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Climate change is causing shifts in hydrology and habitats in Tanzania, and protected areas—such as national parks and community wildlife sanctuaries—no longer provide a safe haven for wildlife. Students interview community members from various ethnic backgrounds about challenges they face due to climate change, the increasing competition for natural resources, and their means of adaptation. We examine the impact of climate change on age, gender roles, and lifestyle in rural areas, and implement small-scale climate change adaptation strategies in local communities.


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The meteorological and biophysical impacts of climate change have put enormous pressures on marine and coastal ecosystems and on island-based livelihoods. We study the causes, mechanisms, and environmental impacts of climate change. Students learn how resources are managed in a changing environment, study the social impacts of changing climates, and assess the ecological impacts of climate change, particularly ocean acidification.


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