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In this interview, climate and food security expert Jim Hansen from the International Research Institute (IRI) for Climate and Society lays out the root cause of food insecurity in East Africa.
[Updated 9/15: La Nina conditions have developed since this article was published.] An intense drought has gripped the southern tier of the United States for several months, accompanied by destructive wildfires, low water supplies, and failed crops.
The Texas AgriLife Extension Service estimates that extreme drought conditions have led to a record $5.2 billion in agricultural losses , a number that surpassed the $4.1 billion record set in 2006.
In summer 2011, the South was in the grip of severe, and in some cases exceptional, drought.
Download large images: August 30, 2011 | September 6, 2011 The southern tier of the United States is enduring a punishing drought . Combined with record heat in many states, the lack of rainfall has stressed water supplies, devastated crops and rangeland, and disrupted wetland and river ecosystems.
At the height of this summer’s extreme drought, a part of the Brazos River ran dry in Knox County, Texas. In some parts of the state, public officials and utilities adjusted water use rules and urged residents to conserve. Texas is officially in the midst of its most severe one-year drought on record.
Download Large Images: January-June | July-December Averaged over the entire year, global temperatures in 2010 were among the two warmest years in the historical record. Two natural climate patterns, the Arctic Oscillation and the El Nño-Southern Oscillation, had strong influences on the patterns of unusually warm and unusually cool spots worldwide.
This video shows daily sea surface temperature anomalies (difference from normal) throughout 2010. Places that were warmer than the long-term average (1980-2010) are shades of red, places that were cooler than average are blue, and places where temperatures were near average are white. When 2010 began, temperatures in the tropical eastern Pacific were warmer than average (red), an indication that El Niño, the warm phase of a naturally occurring climate pattern known as the El Niño-Southern Oscillation (ENSO), was underway.
Near-Record Warmth, Strong Natural Variability
Throughout the South, most farmers and ranchers rely on rain-fed (rather than irrigated) pastures and croplands to feed their livestock. Food from these sources becomes increasingly scarce during drought, so some ranchers buy supplemental livestock feed like the protein cubes that cows are eating in this photo.
This movie shows maps of monthly temperature anomalies (differences from normal) from January through December 2010 for the Northern Hemisphere. Places where temperatures were up to 7 degrees Celsius warmer than average (1971-2000) are red, while places where temperatures were up to 7 degrees cooler than average are blue.
Near the Earth’s equator, solar heating is intense year round. The Sun heats the ocean, evaporating tremendous amounts of water.
In late March, torrential rains pounded southern Thailand.
Download large image (360 KB, JPG) Wind turbines produce more climate-friendly power than generators based on fossil fuels. But the turbines also produce wakes – ripples, waves, vortices, and other disturbances in the air that can stretch at least a few kilometers long at times.
Over the past century, Boulder has built a system of reservoirs and pipelines that capture runoff from melting mountain snowpack, and every year Ellinghouse and her co-workers ensure that a continuous flow of water reaches the city’s treatment plants. But after an exceptional drought in 2002, Boulder’s leaders became concerned that its water system would become insufficient in the future.