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Natasha Udu-gama

Nov 11, 2014
06:52

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Greetings Climate Colab community! I'd like to start off this discussion by asking you to share your experiences of using traditional ecological calendars in your respective parts of the world. Describe their application and how, if at all, have they been affected by a changing climate?

Sarah Kapnick

Nov 14, 2014
07:52

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Is it possible for us to make local climate observations available on the contest website for all participants? In my experience, local observations (such as temperature, precipitation, and snow) are sometimes available from a government entity or academic institution that are not easily discoverable without local knowledge or contacts.

Morgan Ruelle

Nov 17, 2014
12:36

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Greetings Natasha and Sarah! Thanks for raising great questions! In response to Natasha's question, I have been working with Native American elders (from the Standing Rock Nation in North and South Dakota) as well as farmers in the Semien Mountains of Ethiopia. In Standing Rock, the traditional calendar is based on the moon. Each moon-cycle is named for a seasonal event, e.g. "moon when the plums are ripe". Elders also tell me about seasonal cues that they use to decide when to engage in certain seasonal activities. For example, one elder told me that when the cottonwood trees along the Missouri River release their fluffy seeds, it is time to gather tinpsila (wild turnips) out on the prairie. In Ethiopia, farmers are use the Ethiopian Orthodox Christian calendar, and planting is often associated with days honoring holy figures. In both cases, traditional calendars enable people to detect shifts in timing of ecological processes relative to movement of the sun and moon, as well as changes in the synchronicity between plant and animal growth, development, reproduction, and migration. People who directly interact with their ecologies over many years are able to pick up on subtle implications of climate change. In response to Sarah's question - there is a list of climate-related changes observations and impacts that have been reported by villagers in the Pamirs within the full contest description, but there is more detail in one of our papers: http://booksandjournals.brillonline.com/content/journals/10.1163/187471611x600369 If teams need specific information, we can ask for assistance from Dr. Kassam (one of the contest advisors), who has been working in the Pamirs since 2006 and has many local contacts. Another great resource is the USGS Famine Early Warning System Data Portal for Central Asia, an amazing repository of all kinds of meteorological data and analysis: http://earlywarning.usgs.gov/fews/sca/index.php

Karim-aly Kassam

Dec 5, 2014
12:19

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We are very excited to see proposals for this contest and answer questions regarding use of indigenous ecological calendars. Having worked in this mountainous region of Central Asia for many years, the application of our collective ideas will have both a practical and immediate impact. Please feel free to contact me.

Juko Yhn

Dec 8, 2014
03:31

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What does a calendar of the body look like? I am not sure how to respond to the contest question because I do not know what it looks like or how it works.

Juko Yhn

Dec 8, 2014
03:58

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Is this like incorporating climate science data into an almanac that has been used for many generations?

Natasha Udu-gama

Dec 9, 2014
09:50

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Hi yhnjuko, according to Kassam et al. (2011) "Descriptions of the calendar of the human body suggest that it seeks to measure time with respect to ecological conditions as they relate to human experience and not presume to control or reckon with time as a commodity." See: http://beyonddiversity.dnr.cornell.edu/sites/default/files/Ecology%20of%20Time_Kassam,%20Bulbulshoev%20and%20Ruelle_0.pdf for more details. In answer to your second question, yes, it is similar.

Morgan Ruelle

Dec 11, 2014
10:50

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Hi yhnjuko, Thanks for asking for clarification! Here is a general description of the calendars; please note that there are many variations because each calendar of the human body was developed for a specific context (i.e. a particular valley). Most of these calendars include two periods of counting on the body and two periods without counting (known as 'chillas'). The two periods of counting are roughly associated with 1) planting in the spring and 2) harvesting in the fall. If we compare the calendars to a solar calendar, counting on the body did not begin on the same date every year. Counting on the body was usually started by a hisobdon (‘keeper of time’), who paid attention to certain celestial events (sun, moon, stars, shadows) and ecological events (bird migration, plant development, insect emergence, etc.). This allowed the calendar to respond to patterns of weather that shift ‘later’ and ‘earlier’ (again, relative to the solar cycle) from year to year. This probably allowed farmers and pastoralists to increase the productivity of their crops and livestock because they were planting in relation to actual weather patterns, not a ‘fixed’ solar date. It also helped them to observe the temporal patterns within their ecosystem in relation to each other (not just in relation to the solar cycle, which is the way we in the United States, for example, perceive time). Let me walk you through one cycle of the calendar: in the early spring, counting on the body starts at the foot and proceeds up the body. Each body part (all of the calendars include different body parts) is associated with a certain number of days (usually 3 days per body part). During that time, villagers would say ‘the sun is in the toe’ for three days, for example, and then ‘the sun is in the ankle’ for three days, and so on. Often the counting reached the heart around the time of the spring equinox (March 20 by the Gregorian calendar), an important holiday in this part of the world, Navruz (the New Year). After counting reached the head, the summer chilla began, a period where counting ceases, and the sun is said to be elsewhere (visiting with a young wife, e.g.), not ‘in the body’. In the late summer, counting began again at the top of the head, again started by the hisobdon, this time moving toward the foot. Usually the pattern of counting in the fall is precisely the reverse pattern of counting in the spring, i.e. the same number of days associated with each body part. When counting ends at the foot, the winter chilla begins, and counting ceases until the spring counting begins again. Note that the chillas come at times of relative inactivity, when counting is a bit less critical. I will upload an image of one example of a calendar of the human body because I think it is helpful to understand the system. The Pamirs are a rugged mountainous region, so farmers would not all plant and harvest at the same time in relation to their calendars. For example, within a single valley using the same calendar, a farmer in the river bottom might plant her wheat when ‘the sun is in the throat’, while higher in the same valley they might plant later, perhaps when ‘the sun is in the nose’. Each farmer learned to use the calendars in her own way. One other interesting aspect of the calendars is that processes within the body are often linked to seasonal events in the landscape. For example, when the sun is in the stomach, many farmers expect avalanches, which are both associated with a grumbling sound. When the sun is in the eyes, which brings tears, farmers expect rain. There is a much more detailed description of the calendars of the human body in our paper, which is open access at: http://booksandjournals.brillonline.com/content/journals/10.1163/187471611x600369 I hope that helps, thanks for your interest!

Natasha Udu-gama

Dec 12, 2014
11:40

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A question that has been posed to our team: How can physical scientists contribute to adapting calendars of the human body to climate change? What do physical scientists need to know about the gaps? How can we clarify this? Please weigh in with your ideas and thoughts!

Subhashree Mishra

Dec 12, 2014
03:51

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Natasha - I thought more about how physical scientists can contribute to this contest. One way would be to look at satellite data showing trends in temperature change, precipitation and vegetation over the last few decades since we have had satellite data. A collaboration between scientists working on such climate data with Dr. Kassam may provide invaluable information on how people may have adapted to changing climate over the past few decades. It may also shed light on what climate adaptation techniques worked and what did not!

Rajul Pandya

Dec 12, 2014
05:06

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Sort of the million dollar question of the contest - thanks for raising it, Shree. It seems like another way for physical scientists to contribute might be to describe some of our current predictive capability and how they might be useful in adapting the calendars. For example, long term climate projections might be useful as people think about future changes to the calendars. Even within a season, short term probabilisitic forecasts could be part of the calendar. For example, maybe the body parts can grow or shrink in a given year according to forecasts and observations. All this is predicated on the notion, if I understand the papers correctly, that the calendars have never been static artifacts, but have always been iving things that were constantly tweaked and adjusted to incorporate new observations, new insights, and changing conditions. What physical scientists have to offer then, is a new set of tools, observations, or predictions that can be part of that ongoing process of adapting the calendars. The first step toward that is being clear about the insight and tools physical scientists have to offer. This isn't trivial or easy, and it needs to be done in a way that respects the calendars and the people who use them, of course. It is also hard because their are cultural differences to negotiate. The good news, I think, is that physical science and the calendars share an empirical tradition - a strategy of revising knowledge against experience. That is common ground on which to build. Finally, there are some good examples of how physical science can be used in decision-making. One I recently came across is http://journals.ametsoc.org/doi/pdf/10.1175/2010BAMS2911.1. It isn't the same as a calendar, but I think it provides some relevant perspectives.

Morgan Ruelle

Dec 15, 2014
06:30

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Hi Shree - I think you have a great idea! One of the questions I think physical scientists could help us answer is whether events used in the calendars are shifting earlier and later (relative to a solar year) by the same number of days. It seems like that would be one of the benefits of these calendars - although solar dates for events change, timing between certain events might remain. For example, is peak leaf flush consistently a certain number of days before/after last frost? Or does a certain bird arrive in the Pamirs a certain number of days before the emergence of a particular insect? I believe that the Pamiris had observed these kinds of correlations (reliable temporal ecological relationships) as they developed their calendars. Have some of these observations held true over the past century? I also think Raj's point about the calendars being constantly updated is very important - because it seems that climate change is introducing greater variability, not a'new normal' - so we all need systems that enable continuous adaptation. Here's a link to a paper (Ahas et al 2000) about a phenological calendar developed for Estonia, using 24 phenophases in plants that were shown to be correlated to air temperature: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/11131286

Venkatesh R

Dec 22, 2014
01:23

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One of the Key points that needs to be considered in the calendar,in the current time is Man made products! If we see the entire calendar it is a relationship between man,climate and other life forms (animals/crops) they all are tied with a common thing called heat. When this calendar was designed we didn't have any machines and industries. They too release absorb heat,though may not be in this region, but when we consider the earth as an open system we cannot avoid these. Probably a delta amount of time needs to be added to calender that covers the machines and industries.

Venkatesh R

Dec 28, 2014
03:04

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and more over,plants and trees as major heat consumer (absorbs co2) when we lay roads/ build industries we are destroying them, so the absorption population are reduced and we are increasing the emitting populations by many folds, so this is one of the key points to be considered while updating the calendar as this change, can make a difference in climate and the seasons may change or get overlapped.

Natasha Udu-gama

Jan 5, 2015
02:20

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FYI - for all of those interested in this topic, please take a look at this related article: http://www.earthmagazine.org/article/dry-and-ravaged-land-investigating-water-resources-afghanistan

Morgan Ruelle

Jan 10, 2015
11:15

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Thanks for that article, Natasha - very interesting! Also, we just uploaded an illustration of one calendar of the human body (they are different in every valley!) that may be helpful to understand the full annual cycle. Remember that at the end of the chillas, counting on the body is initiated based on phenological cues (changes in plants, animals, weather, shadows, etc.). Here's a direct link (scroll to the bottom): https://www.climatecolab.org/resources/-/wiki/Main/Anticipating+Climate+Change+in+the+Pamir+Mountains

Sarah Kapnick

Jan 12, 2015
05:35

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Note to everyone: This contest is being extended with a new timeline. Present proposals submitted have more time to be updated (if you wish to) and new proposals can be submitted until **APRIL 30**. Please check the timeline on the contest webpage (at the top of the page, below the title) for up-to-date information on due dates and the proposal schedule.

Erich J. Knight

Jan 27, 2015
02:29

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The World Bank Study; Biochar Systems for Smallholders in Developing Countries: Leveraging Current Knowledge and Exploring Future Potential for Climate-Smart Agriculture http://fb.me/38njVu2qz Has very exacting analysis of biomass usage & sources, also for Pro-Natura's Senegal project with onions,(.50% yield increases), and peanut farmers in Vietnam. A simple extrapolation made from assumptions of 250M TLUDs for the roughly 1 billion folks world wide now using open burning. 1 TLUD per Household of 6, producing 0.52 tons char/Household/yr, X 250M = 130 Mt Char/yr. Hardly exacting, but showing sequestration of 130 Million tons of Biochar per year, could be achieved just from cooking. In terms of CO2e, these 250M Households reduce 825M Tons of CO2e annually. The cascading pulmonary health benefits for woman & children is the very thick icing on this 0.825 GtCO2e cake. Here are other high lights of the World bank study, these hard numbers are the base of my corrected extrapolation above. 0.52 tons char/Household/yr The total of the CO2e sequestered and the avoided CO2e emissions is covered in this study, but No positive or negative "priming effects". fuel use values table 5.1 The yield of biochar is calculated to be 0.52 tonnes per household per year,(X 250M households = 130 Mt char/yr) At 65.89% fixed C = 86 MtC 0.52 tchar/yr supplies 6 kg of N with it, for soils Table 5.3 lists the results for the Kenya pyrolysis cookstove system, −1.8 tonnes of CO2e per ton biomass labor saved; 62 hrs per ton biomass, or 115 hours per household/yr 0.74 tonnes of grain per ton biomass Net Revenue; $8 per ton biomass, or $16 per household/yr Cooking Energy required per household/yr, results in the following GHG balance: −3.3 tonnes of CO2e per household/yr monetizing the surplus maize, the biochar would pay for itself in the first year. One Ton Biochar Yields; The net impact of 1 ton of biochar for the Kenya cookstove system; results in GHG reductions of –6.3 tonnes of CO2e and 2.7 tonnes of surplus maize per tonne of biochar.

Gabriel Harp

Jan 27, 2015
03:17

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On the theme of environmental sentinels for adaptation: Limn had an issue on the topic. may or may not be useful. http://limn.it/issue/03/

Natasha Udu-gama

Feb 24, 2015
11:35

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Greetings Climate Colab Community and those interested in the Pamir Mountains Challenge! Today from 12pm - 1pm EST Dr. Raj Pandya, Program Director of AGU's Thriving Earth Exchange will be talking about this challenge and its importance within a climate science context at NOAA's headquarters in Silver Spring, MD. It will be recorded live and is open to the public! Please see: http://thrivingearthexchange.org/noaa-seminar/

Michael Hayes

Mar 10, 2015
07:29

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Hi Folks, Concerning local conditions, I have lived in the rural North Cascade Mountains for 20 years and this winter was the most non-typical of the 20. We simply had no winter as the climate seemed to go from fall to spring without hard freezes or even snow fall. The phenology calender is way off!!! I had misquotes hatching in mid Feb!!!

Natasha Udu-gama

Mar 30, 2015
12:03

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Greetings All, Here are two papers that might be helpful to current and future proposals for this challenge. Both involve using time series of remote sensing data to detect changes in land cover; one focuses on Northern Hemisphere greening trends as a proxy for temperature changes and the other on declines in Northern Hemisphere spring snow cover extent. Both show significant trends in Eurasia. Here is a link to general information on changing snow cover: http://nsidc.org/cryosphere/sotc/snow_extent.html Here is a link to more specific changes in snow cover as measured by satellite: http://climate.rutgers.edu/snowcover/chart_anom.php?ui_set=1&ui_region=eurasia&ui_month=5

Michael Hayes

Mar 31, 2015
04:55

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Is your group interested in weather modification? Specifically in terms of creating strong advective currents. If so, there is one potential method which is possibly available. To the best of my knowledge, the method has never been developed/used and, due to the potential strength of the cooling effect, it may possibly be, regrettably, weaponized. Here is the link to the book which I found the concept. https://books.google.com/books?id=viBg3DcP3-8C&pg=PA310&dq=oxyhydrogen,+lin,&hl=en&sa=X&ei=hwUbVZOxE43hoASI24CoDA&ved=0CDEQ6AEwAQ#v=onepage&q=oxyhydrogen%2C%20lin%2C&f=false At the technical level relitive to the Pamir, one would tether platforms up to the tropopause and energize lights, which are tuned to the correct frequency, which in turn, triggers the H2O disassociation and thus create a strong cooling effect. As the cooling effect can be around -20C, the advective current would be strong enough to possibly increase snow precipitation (if the moisture content and cloud nucleation particle population are adequate). Also, at the biological level, the propagation of Pseudomonas syringae is always a good idea for many reasons with it's high temperature ice nucleation ability being the most germane. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pseudomonas_syringae#Ice-nucleating_properties If your group wishes to explore the above two separate paths individually or in unison, I would be happy to do more work on them as a separate entry(s) from the original 'biolingustic' entry. Best regards, Michael

Natasha Udu-gama

May 28, 2015
04:01

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To all those interested and involved in the Pamir Mountains contest: Important updates as per the below: - Semi-Finalist selection will extend until June 5 - Revision period: June 6 - June 18 - Finalist selection: June 19 - July 1 - Voting period stays the same: August 3 - September 12 Thank you again for your interest in this contest and we look forward to your contributions.

Gabriel Harp

Jun 6, 2015
11:28

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Hi folks, Good luck on the rest of the contest. I will share that this has been the most disappointing collaboration I've ever been a part of. The feedback I received from the judges and the level of engagement on the part of the organizers is unacceptable. It's turned me from a supporter into someone who would actively discourage future participation by anyone else. I will be withdrawing my account and all contributions from the CoLab community. I really don't know the details of how this is run or what the actual goals are, but it might be worth some deep reflection. It never feels good to not *win* something, but it is far more damaging to treat in-kind participation with such little respect, care, and loyalty than I have seen here. I learned a lot from going deeper on this challenge, and that is it's own reward. Few are here for the money, to be sure. I'm totally confident that my proposal was unfinished, messy, lacked clarity, and needed more focus. But given the level of complexity of the challenge, this platform was an opportunity to engage with others, learn, and refine. We are all busy, yes. But when messages go unanswered and the judges and organizers clearly do engage with the content, it's really difficult not feel abused. The Van Alen Institute recently completed a survey about design contests, and they arrived at some pretty insightful conclusions. It might be worth taking a look. https://vanalen.org/projects/architectural-record-van-alen-institute-competition-survey/#propositions Again, good luck. But this experience is not the path forward, and we need all of the good experiences we can get.

Michael Hayes

Jun 23, 2015
07:13

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Hello Gabriel, I can understand your views yet this portal is useful for: 1) Working out concepts 2) Getting those concepts in front of policy/industry actors 3) Learning about what ideas are out there (and maybe) 4) actually solving complex problem sets which may actually save many lives. I believe there are a number of other benefits, beyond the above, which the CoLab experiment is attempting to develop/offer. However, we may best keep in mind that the CoLab experiment is just that...an experiment. On this Calendar of the Body/Pamir Mountains specific challenge, the Advisers, Fellows and Judges have been exceptionally interactive with the proposers. In my view, they have been as supportive of the proposal authors as they can be. You mentioned that, in your view, "this experience is not the path forward"; What would you propose as the best path forward to collecting ideas on such vast scale and profoundly complex problem sets as are being worked on by the CoLab participants? Best regards, Michael