Drought Research, Global Coalition, Federal Initiatives Help Advance Climate Science



As the world continues to navigate the “new normal” brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic, another inevitable environmental concern that can cause droughts, among other challenges, is emerging.

But scientists say mitigation measures can still help reduce its severity and damage.

Notwithstanding future levels of greenhouse gas emissions, climate change has “stuck in a high risk of severe mega-droughtsIn the southwestern United States, according to research conducted by NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies and sponsored by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Climate Program Office.

The study, published Sept. 7 in Earth’s Future, says the ongoing drought in the region over the past 20 years has underscored the impact of dry conditions on people and the economy.

The effects of severe single-year droughts include depleted water resources, withered crops and fuel fires, resulting in economic losses.

Kate Marvel, co-author of the study, the results also point out that “there will never be a temperature threshold that we exceed where mitigation has no impact or where it does. not important “.

Researchers define mega-droughts as “persistent multi-decade droughts”. For the study, the researchers chose the 21-year mega-drought from 2000 to 2020 and the one-year drought in 2002 as archetypes of severe droughts.

They found that there is at least a 50% chance that serious mega-droughts will occur by the end of the century, even if there are low greenhouse gas emissions.

However, the study pointed out that “despite the apparent insensitivity of the 21-year drought risk to mitigation measures, our results still demonstrate the value of climate change mitigation in reducing the future severity of drought and the risk of drought. risk of extreme drought in a single year in the region “.

Marvel said there would be a new normal nonetheless.

“We will have to adapt to a drier regional climate. But the degree of that adaptation – how often these droughts occur, what happens to the risk of drought – is essentially in our control, ”she added.

Based on comprehensive data from the Real-time climate monitoring of atmospheric carbon emissions, the combined emissions from the oil and gas sector could be about double, or a billion tonnes more, than the reports of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change.

Global steel production accounted for 13.1 billion tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions from 2015 to 2020, while the shipping and aviation industries emitted 11 billion tonnes.

Climate TRACE used artificial intelligence and machine learning technologies to examine more than 59 trillion bytes of data collected from more than 300 satellites, 11,100 sensors and other sources of emissions information in the world.

“This unprecedented effort is a significant step forward in emissions monitoring, transforming a system that too often relied on rough estimates, opaque methods and inaccessible reports,” the emissions monitoring coalition said Thursday.

On the federal side, NOAA monitors meteorological, climatic and environmental factors through its constellation of weather satellites while NASA has its own climate science initiatives such as “Libera,” a new tool the agency plans to deploy in 2027 to measure solar radiation in space, Nature reported in May.

“Biden has made it clear that the climate is a priority,” said Waleed Abdalati, director of the Cooperative Research Institute for Environmental Sciences at the University of Colorado at Boulder.

“NASA has a clear role to play in this regard. “

Climate change will be at the center of the discussions during a virtual forum organized on September 22 by the Potomac Officers Club. The event will feature Abdalati and other scientific leaders to provide insight and perspective on one of the most critical environmental issues facing our planet.

The “Meeting the Challenge of Climate Change in Industry, Government and Society” forum will be held Wednesday at 10 am ET. Register now here.


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