El Nino Confirmed: Response Plan Appeal for Southern Africa; Atmospheric River for CA

Nullschool 2-15-19

February 13, 2019 image showing jet stream and precipitable water in the Pacific. An El Nino Advisory was issued by NOAA the following day. Jet stream patterns bring an atmospheric river into California from south of Hawai’i to north of Fiji. (Image: Earth Nullschool)

On February 14, 2019, the NOAA Climate Prediction Center issued an El Nino Advisory, stating that “weak El Nino conditions are present and are expected to continue through the Northern Hemisphere spring 2019 (~55% chance)” and that, “due to the expected weak strength, widespread or significant global impacts are not anticipated.” However, despite the projection of a weak El Nino event, two significant related impacts are occurring and impacting emergency management and humanitarian operations.

Southern Africa: FAO El Nino Response Plan Appeal

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The impacts in Southern Africa could be substantial, with the Food and Agricultural Organization launching a $67.9M USD appeal for an El Nino Response Plan to assist 4.9 million people for El Nino-exacerbated food insecurity issues. The eight nations of concern for food shocks and stessors are: Eswaitini, Lesotho, Madagascar, Malawai, Mozambique, Namibia, Zambia, and Zimbabwe. According to the FAO, “the potential compounding effects of up to three consecutively poor
harvests in the most at-risk hots pots will be detrimental for agricultural-based
livelihoods and continue to drive down the production capacities of rural
households. This will exacerbate food insecurity and malnutrition, with ripple
effects that will be felt into 2020 and beyond.” Heavy and erratic rainfall patterns, as well as severe flooding has created agricultural stressors, including crop pests, livestock diseases, and delayed planting. [Image: FAO]

California: Atmospheric River with Record Precipitable Water and Flooding

A strong atmospheric river, often correlated to an El Nino pattern is strongly affecting Southern California, and is producing significant flooding.

Moving Forward 

An El Nino weather pattern has significant implications for projecting disaster declaration patterns in the coming months. Please stay tuned for further detailed BOA analysis.

This Fundamental of Emergency Management Is Entirely Wrong

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Whether we are Program Coordinators, Directors, NGO workers, or researchers, we’ve learned this as gospel, dogma, and basic foundation. “The Four Phases of Emergency Management.” Preparedness. Response. Recovery. Mitigation.

Our perspective at BOA is that this concept, the “four phases,” is entirely wrong. In fairness, maybe not entirely wrong. But fatally flawed–enough that ignoring a simple nuance can make all the difference between successful adaptation, and system collapse.

Check out our four minute podcast below:

Creating Resilience in a Cascading Global Threat Environment

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2018 marks the 150th anniversary of what is now the Turkish Red Crescent. Born as the Ottoman Red Crescent Society on June 11, 1868, the TRC (known as “Kizilayi” in Turkish) was the first Islamic-branded Federation organization recognized under the Geneva Conventions. In a dynamic evolution through the founding of the Turkish Republic to World War II, the Cold War, to modern times, the TRC has vaulted to the status of global humanitarian superpower–able to project humanitarian operations beyond the boundaries of Eurasia and Africa to as far away as the Western Hemisphere.

The BOA Directors were honored to be hosted by the Turkish American National Steering Committee on October 18 in Washington DC to present on this dynamic topic. The full audio of the event is below:

As an agile, well-equipped and highly organized national NGO, the TRC today finds itself engaged in complex emergencies at the cutting edge of geopolitics, including conducting operations in Idlib, Syria, in the Horn of Africa, and supporting the Rohingya. Yet the climate-catalyzed threat environment of the future includes exponentiating threats including Arctic Amplification, unprecedented heat, water, and agricultural stressors in the Middle East and North Africa, and an increase in severe meteorological events that could drive massive migration patterns in the coming years and decades.

BOA’s analysis suggested multiple approaches that a high-capacity humanitarian organization such as the TRC could take to plan for the exponential relief operations of the future. This includes exercising tabletop scenarios that call for a 3-5X increase in migration flows and severe weather events, conducting joint training with Federation partners in the region, ensuring deep supply chains of temporary sheltering capabilities, and exploring rugged, scalable shortwave communication technologies for optimal field use.

In summary, after a dynamic 150-year evolution, the TRC is well positioned to assume a leadership position in an exceptionally challenging and cascading threat environment.

BOA-EMT Launch and Core Capabilities Update

We are proud to announce that, on June 18, 2018, Blue Ocean Analytics – Emergency Management for Tomorrow (BOA-EMT), completed its incubation phase. We are now initiating a soft launch with select partner agencies.

BOA-EMT is a start-up, women and minority-owned small business with a strong focus on resiliency within the Disaster Management and Humanitarian Assistance field.

We are based in Greater Boston, Massachusetts with a simultaneous presence Washington DC/Southeast US. With two founding partners and a senior advisor, BOA-EMT brings over 45 years of combined professional experience in the development and delivery of federally-funded hazard mitigation services, disaster recovery and resiliency, international development and analysis, as well as climate change-based threat assessment.

Latest Developments

We have developed a core architecture to deliver BOA-EMT content and capacity building-based trainings. Current content development and production includes:

  • Operational trainings on Hazard Mitigation Assistance (HMA) best practices, application development,  Benefit Cost Analysis (BCA) field-based techniques, and integrating HMA into complex Recovery and Resiliency environments, including in an operational Joint Field Office setting;
  • Resilient Recovery techniques; and
  • Analysis of emerging threats in Disaster Management and Humanitarian Assistance as well as Climate Disruption.

On October 18 2018, we will deliver a high profile presentation on emerging trends in Disaster Management and Humanitarian Assistance to an audience including the Turkish Ministry of Foreign Affairs and NGOs/think tanks in Washington DC. This is in partnership with the Turkish American National Steering Committee.

Core Capabilities

BOA-EMT’s three core capabilities are:

  1. Mitigation and Resiliency
  2. Strategic Management Consulting through Capacity Building
  3. Threat Assessment

Mitigation and Resiliency

BOA-EMT brings robust and nationally-recognized (U.S.) capabilities in the field of Hazard Mitigation and Resiliency. We have strong Subject Matter Expertise in FEMA-funded Mitigation funding streams including the Hazard Mitigation Grant Program (HMGP), Pre-Disaster Mitigation (PDM) program, and Flood Mitigation Assistance (FMA) programs. Our team has managed well over $200M in FEMA mitigation funding over the course of our careers and has attained recognition as SMEs and trainers, including serving as State instructors for Benefit Cost Analysis (BCA).

This includes full life cycle grants management–development, pre-approval, implementation and closeout; post-disaster intake operations in a field setting; Joint Field Office HMGP development operations, project scoping, as well as BCA of a large variety of project types including buyouts, elevations, reconstructions, stormwater management projects (culvert upsizes, detention ponds, etc), wind shutter and tornado saferooms, as well as power redundancy and early warning projects.

Strategic Management through Capacity Building

As a women and minority-owned small business, BOA-EMT provides strategic consulting to our clients and partners through an ethic of capacity building. We believe in helping our partners to internalize capabilities to manage multiple resilient recovery funding streams in a fast-changing environment. It is our commitment to help our clients be in a better position to manage a new project within their organization and stakeholders.

BOA-EMT also has tried and tested real-world experience in the integration of resilience into post-disaster recovery programming, where HMGP interfaces with Public Assistance, Individual Assistance, Community Development Block Grant – Disaster Recovery (CDBG-DR) and local and state-funding streams. This can be a complex political and pressurized environment to navigate for the public and private sector as well as disaster survivors. BOA-EMT brings authentic best practices and suggestions to our partners and clients, including the use of BCA as an objective common denominator.

Threat Assessment

BOA-EMT’s team also includes international experience operating in analytical roles in classified environments in Southwest Asia and the Middle East. We have worked for think tanks that cover Central Asia, the Pacific Islands, and the Asia-Pacific. We have had analysis published by think tanks covering climate and security, and have appeared in Devex, Accuweather, Monday Developments Magazine, the Huffington Post, the Center for Climate and Security, and Foreign Policy Magazine. Our work on disaster analysis has even been referred to in international radio broadcasts. One of our hallmarks is integrating climate disruption intelligence into our analysis and products.

As we continue to develop this capability in our roll-out plan, please visit our multimedia library on our website for examples of our analytical writing, podcasts, and interview appearances.

Please contact us at boa.emt.directors@gmail.com if we can provide project scoping or implementation support, or to discuss potential collaboration.

Analysis: The Greater Gulf of Maine – A Rising Climate Change Superpower

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In the first half of 2018, frozen sharks washed up on the beaches of Cape Cod, seawalls breached along the Massachusetts coast, and one of the most rapidly-intensifying storms in recorded meteorological history exploded along the New England shoreline.

In geopolitics, a multipolar world is an often dangerous collection of strong regional powers with their own spheres of influence and selfish interests. It’s a recipe for war and instability that can arise from the collapse of dominant systems, such as an empire or bi-polar Cold War scenario.

In climate change, our global systems are similarly transitioning. Northern Hemisphere jet streams are becoming more wavy, erratic, and ineffective at keeping weather systems moving as the Arctic warms and the the globe’s pressure gradient collapses. In the ocean, the Gulf Stream is similarly slowing due to the melting of Greenland’s ice sheet, and creating a series of vortexes, hot blobs, and unmatched sea surface temperature anomalies in the North Atlantic. Storm frequency, severity, and intensity is increasing.

It is the decline of these two climate system superpowers–the Jet Stream and the Gulf Stream–that has allowed for the Greater Gulf of Maine to arise as a new regional climate change powerhouse.

Gulf of Maine_map

A 36,000 square mile ocean region that includes Cape Cod, Boston, Portland Maine, and Nova Scotia to the west, and the diverse marine ecosystem of Georges Bank to the south and east, the Gulf of Maine encompasses coastal New England and Atlantic Canada, and has been rapidly warming due to climate change for the past decade.

Like a rising powerful nation-state, the Greater Gulf of Maine boasts formidable resources and the ability to influence the events around it. This includes a series of swirling offshore currents and vortexes that boast sea surface temperature anomalies greater than 17 degrees Fahrenheit and provide fuel for extreme storm events such as January twin nor’easters including the “bomb cyclone.”

A triad of Gulf of Maine issues on May 28, 2018: 1) surface winds gyrate around George’s Bank, forcing back tropical moisture towards the mid-Atlantic which suffered a 1,000 year storm in Elliot City, Maryland; 2) Jet Stream disorganization on the Eastern Seaboard of North America; 3) Gulf Stream slow-down and Sea Surface Temperature Anomalies.

The implications for the Greater Gulf of Maine’s climate influences are many. From a maritime ecosystem perspective, this includes the collapse of cod due to warming and the odd appearance of frozen sharks during strong polar vortex events. From a disaster management perspective, breaching of choke points on Cape Cod such as Ballston Beach that can potentially turn parts of the Cape into temporary islands of stranded residents, and extreme storm surge events in communities such as Marshfield, Quincy, and even Boston itself.

From a broader perspective of climate disruption, the implications are even more far reaching. The second 1,000 year rain bomb flood event that gripped Elliot City Maryland on May 27, 2018 features a curious feedback loop of wind and moisture centered around a Greater Gulf of Maine vortex pattern. A massive warm blob has appeared in the North Atlantic from the Greater Gulf of Maine to Europe and seems deeply tied to Greenland meltwaters. And the 2018 Atlantic Hurricane Season is underway.

*Please contact the BOA-EMT Directors at boa.emt.directors@gmail.com for information regarding our support in navigating potential funding streams for coastal mitigation and resiliency projects in the region. BOA-EMT offers mitigation and resiliency as well as capacity building services. We are former leaders in a state that now manages over $500M in resiliency funding, with a long history of successful mitigation in coastal and estuary environments.

[Cover Image: New England Historical Society, referencing New England’s Deadly October Gale of 1841. Other images: Gulf of Maine detailed map, Earth Nullschool imagery for May 28, 2018; Ballston Beach Breach, Truro MA, Mar 2018.]