Cross-posted fromÂ USGS, a member of the U.S. Global Change Research Program
Young boys working in a newly croppedÂ field in Africa.
Spring rains in the eastern Horn of Africa are projected to begin late this year and be substantially lower than normal.
From Marchâ€“May, the rains are expected to total only 60 to 85 percentage of the average rainfall in this region. This is a significant deterioration compared to earlier forecasts.
Lower rain amounts would have significant impacts on crop production, rangeland regeneration for livestock, and replenishment of water resources.
This would put greater stress on the region, particularly Somalia which is still recovering from a famine declared last year, as well as Kenya and Ethiopia which also experienced a severe food crisis. An increase in food insecurity and in the size of the food insecure population is likely.
The State Department released a statement on this forecast and their intent to provide additional funding to aid refuges and drought-affected communities.Â
Carbon is the foundation for all life on Earth. It is stored in reservoirs across the planet, including our oceans, atmosphere, plants, soils, and fossil fuels, and is a central component of food, shelter, transportation and other basic needs of human society.
This notice sets forth the schedule and proposed agenda of a forthcoming conference call meeting of the DoC NOAA National Climate Assessment and Development Advisory Committee (NCADAC). The call is scheduled for Tuesday, April 10, 2012 from 2-4 p.m. Eastern Time. Public access will be available at the office of the U.S. Global Change Research Program, Conference Room A, Suite 250, 1717 Pennsylvania Avenue NW., Washington, DC 20006.
Phil Duffy, Senior Policy Analyst, Becky Fried, Policy Analyst, Office of Science and Technology Policy, Executive Office of the President
New data released last week by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) showed that the 2011-2012 winter season was the fourth warmest ever recorded in the United States.
The data were published in NOAA's National Climatic Data Center State of the Climate report, which provides regularly updated climate and weather information for regions across the United States.
The data show that this past winter was generally both warmer than average and drier than average for the lower 48 States. The average temperature across these states for December through February was 36.8 degrees F, nearly 4 degrees higher than the long-term average for U.S. winters from 1901-2000. Precipitation was down 12 percent on average, and when it came to snow, the United States experienced its third smallest winter snow-cover footprint square miles of snow-cover, as measured by satellites since recording began 46 years ago.
Becky Fried, Policy Analyst,
Office of Science and Technology Policy, Executive Office of the President
USGC Scientists collecting melt water
samples from a glacier.
A new study by USGS scientists and university researchers reveals that a substantial amount of organic carbon on Alaskan glaciers comes from atmospheric deposition of fossil fuel emissions. Prior research suggested that the primary source was ancient soil, plants and other organic materials from forests and peat lands that were over run by glaciers thousands of years ago.
While ancient organic plant material is still a potential source of some glacial organic carbon, the new study indicates that human-createdâ€”or anthropogenicâ€”sources are major contributors.
The results, published in the journal Nature Geoscience, build upon previous USGS studies that found organic carbon in the Yukon River and determined that its source was glacial meltwater. With the new study, USGS scientists and their university partners traced organic carbon further â€œupstreamâ€ tounderst and how it arrives at glaciers in the first place. To do this, they analyzed the chemical composition of dissolved organic matter in glacial surface water, snow, and meltwater from coastal areas of Alaska and looked for specific compounds that are consistent with different sources.
Analysis revealed arelative absence of compounds associated with plants and the presence of several compounds in forms consistent with human-made origins, including combustion products that are found in anthropogenic fossil-fuel emissions, such as black carbon
While fossil fuels themselves are ancient, deriving from plants and organisms that lived millions of years ago, fossil fuelburning is a relatively modern practice. When fossil fuels are burned, carbon is emitted into the atmosphere, making it available for deposition on surfaces such as glaciers. The studyâ€™s findings suggest that a large portion of organic carbon found on glaciers comes from such atmospheric deposition as a result of human activity.
Glacial carbon deposits matter because they reduce the amount of sunlight reflected into the atmosphere and because their dark particles absorb heat from the sun, causing glaciers to melt faster and contribute to sea-level rise.
Glacial melt also transports compounds locked up in glaciers into rivers and streams, where they serveas a fundamental food source for microbes and other organisms at the bottom of the aquatic food web. The new studyâ€™s conclusion that most glacial carbon derives from human activity raises new questions about whetherand how this anthropogenically derived carbon may be influencing aquatic ecosystems.
To learn moreabout the USGS study on glacial carbon, please visit here.