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Prepared Remarks on Global Food and Climate Security

Byzantine_agricultureThe following speech was delivered on Dec. 12, 2012 in Washington, DC by Caitlin Werrell, at a global food security and climate change lunch conversation for bishops from the Episcopal Church and the Evangelical Lutheran Church. 

I was invited to discuss the human security risks that climate change presents, specifically (but not exclusively) related to food security. I will briefly look at what we mean by climate as a security risk, discuss a couple of case studies and then close on what this might mean going forward for food security and your programs. (more…)

Ambassador Rice at the UNSC: The Sahel and Climate Adaptation

SONY DSCAt a briefing for the United Nations Security Council, U.S. Ambassador Susan Rice spoke at length about conflict, insecurity and vulnerability in the Sahel region, and the persistent drought overlaying it all. She also highlighted the U.S. role in assisting the region, stating:

The U.S. has committed more than $445 million in 2012 to humanitarian assistance for drought-affected and conflict-displaced communities in the Sahel. We intend these resources to alleviate the dire situation at hand, reduce chronic vulnerability, and ultimately to promote more inclusive growth.

These are, of course, worthy aims. But in order to truly succeed, plans for reducing chronic vulnerabilities in the Sahel will need significant “climate-proofing,” given the region’s worrying climate forecast.  As we have indicated previously:

There is strong evidence that climatic conditions in the Sahel have been steadily growing worse, particularly in regards to rainfall levels. According to at least six studies of this phenomenon, highlighted by UNEP in 2006 (see page 3), “the second half of the 20th century has witnessed a dramatic reduction in mean annual rainfall throughout the region.” A 2005 NOAA report attributed the low rainfall to changes in sea surface temperature (likely caused by a combination of natural variability and human-induced change), and both a NOAA study in 2006, and another by Shanahan et al in 2009, attributed drought in the West African Sahel to the Atlantic Multidecadal Oscillation, which is responsive to sea surface temperature changes.

Absent significant and smart investments in climate adaptation measures, the Sahel may face an even more fragile future. Hopefully, the United States will be in a position to play a leadership role in helping to generate such resources.

Climate Change and Particular Weather Events: Revisiting Recent Research

Russialsta_tmo_2010208_lrgDavid Sandalow, Acting Undersecretary of Energy and Assistant Secretary for Policy and International Affairs at the U.S. Department of Energy, recently spoke at the Columbia University Energy Symposium about Hurricane Sandy, its impacts on our energy infrastructure, and what we can expect in a climate-changing world. Addressing climate change, he states: (more…)

NOAA Seeking Public Input: How to Address the Satellite Gap?

As we highlighted previously, the United States is approaching an unenviable challenge: the possibility of 17 months worth of dramatically diminished weather satellite coverage (to be precise, the loss of two polar-orbiting satellites that are critical for accurate weather forecasting). This seems astonishing in the wake of such a devastating and unpredictable storm as Sandy, but the reasons for it lie in past mistakes that are not so easily, or quickly, corrected.

For this reason, as reported by Climate Central, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) is seeking public input on “how to maintain the accuracy of the agency’s weather forecasts despite the loss of satellite-derived data.”

Click here for additional details, and/or to submit a comment. The deadline is 5:00 p.m. (presumably Eastern) on December 19, 2012.

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