John Corbett and David Bergvinson, CEO and Chief Science Officer of aWhere Inc Continue reading
A NASA study has found that recent extreme weather events, including last year’s Texas heat wave and the Russian heat wave of 2010, are very likely to be the consequence of global warming.
The findings, published last week in the scientific paper Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, analyse mean summer temperatures since 1951 and show that the odds have increased over the years for “hot”, “very hot” and “extremely hot” summers. From the period between 1951 and 1980, the study shows how extremely hot temperatures covered less than 0.2% of the planet, whereas today those temperatures cover about 10% of the land area.
NASA climatologists have long collected data on global temperature anomalies, which describe how much warming or cooling regions of the world have experienced when compared with the 1951 to 1980 base period. In this study, the researchers employ a bell curve to illustrate how those anomalies are changing.
Led by one of NASA’s principal climate scientists, James. E. Hansen says:
“This is not a climate model or a prediction but actual observations of weather events and temperatures that have happened. Our analysis shows that, for the extreme hot weather of the recent past, there is virtually no explanation other than climate change.”
Hansen says this summer is shaping up to fall into a new category, as statistics from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), show July 2012 to be the single hottest month ever recorded in the United States. He says:
“Such anomalies were infrequent in the climate prior to the warming of the past 30 years, so statistics let us say with a high degree of confidence that we would not have had such an extreme anomaly this summer in the absence of global warming.”
In addition to NASA’s analysis, a second release of data findings from the Berkeley Earth Surface Temperature project found that average Earth surface temperature has risen by 1.5 °C over the past 250 years. The study shows a correlation between temperature records and recent atmospheric carbon dioxide level increases and points to logical reasoning that recent earth warming is anthropomorphic. This is demonstrated in one of Berkeley’s key findings charts below.
The two bodies of data validation above may help to settle ongoing controversy about the effects of climate change amongst scientists and political leaders. The new data could influence policy maker’s negotiations during key summits, such as in COP 18 in December, about how to best approach rising levels of CO2 in the atmosphere.
Information on agriculture and climate change can be found on Farming First’s website.
Although research into agricultural development is extensive, and markets continually evolve, this information doesn’t often reach the farmers who could benefit most from it.
In remote areas of many developing countries, lack of access to telecommunications means that farmers either struggle to keep up-to-date market and agronomic information, or they are forced to spend time and money in travelling to access this information, taking away from the already scarce time they have to work on the farm.
Wireless Reach is a scheme that aims to bridge communications gaps such as these, by bringing wireless technology to developing communities around the world. The project, run by international telecommunications company Qualcomm, not only connects rural communities to the outside world but also offers a source of livelihood for those involved.
The idea is simple and has already been successful in several other countries. A micro-loan is offered to a local person whose community has no telephone connection. This person then uses the loan to acquire a village phone kit and service plan, taking on the role of Village Phone Operator (VPO). The rest of the community can then purchase minutes from the VPO: they benefit from access to affordable telecoms service, whilst the VPO is able to manage a sustainable ICT business.
Thanks to initiatives like this, more farmers are accessing information about weather, crops and pest control from their own remote villages, so that they can make better-informed farming decisions. Furthermore, being kept up to date with market information allows farmers to receive accurate pricing information and market their crops to buyers.
A new partnership will launch 5000 new weather stations across Africa to help collect meteorological information on the continent. This information can then be used to predict and manage the impacts of climate change.
“Weather Info for All” is a partnership between the UN’s World Meteorological Organization, Columbia University’s Earth Institute, and telecommunicatons companies Sony Ericsson and Zain. The plan is to build 5000 weather stations on top of existing mobile telephone satellite units across Africa.
This project appears to be enhanced by the relative capabilities and goals of its partners. Public-private partnerships such as these are useful ways for building and sharing knowledge as well as helping farmers plan and protect their harvests better.