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Climate Smart Public Health

What do hot summer days in Beijing and heavy rains in rural Colombia have in common? Both are climate events that can trigger a host of public health calamities. And they’re just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the ways that climate and health interact. Despite strong connectivity between the two disciplines, […]

Climate Forecasting: Oceans, Droughts, Climate Change and Other Tools of the Trade

At IRI’s monthly climate briefing, talk often focuses on the role that El Niño or La Niña play in driving global climate. With the collapse of La Niñalast month, though, IRI’s forecasters now have to rely on different tools to offer forecasts for the coming year. That’s both good and bad news for forecasting skill.   Climate […]

Climate change threatens a fragile ecosystem in the Andes

In the Andes mountains of Colombia, Ecuador, Peru, and Venezuela, tucked between the tree line and the line of permanent snow, is the páramo, a unique and hauntingly beautiful mountainous wetland that is threatened by climate change and growing temperature extremes. The páramo of the Northern Andes is wet and cold. Temperatures can dip below […]

R.I.P. La Niña

Attendees observed a brief moment of silence during this month’s climate briefing. Why? Because after nine months, the climate phenomenon La Niña has died. Is there any chance a zombie La Niña could rise from the dead, though? Tony Barnston, IRI’s lead forecaster, answered that question and more. This year’s La Niña was near record setting […]

Informing Farmers and Combating Drought in Mali

In countries where an overwhelming majority of the population relies on rain-fed agriculture, drought can have serious consequences. Mali found this out during a crippling decade-long drought during the 1970s and 1980s. As part of drought response efforts, the Malian government collaborated with a range of humanitarian actors starting in 1982 to provide farmers with […]

La Niña Still Hanging On

Don’t write a eulogy for La Niña quite yet. “I thought it would die by this briefing,” said Tony Barnston, the chief forecaster at the International Research Institute for Climate and Society, last week. At the climate briefing, which IRI holds every month, Barnston showed signs of La Niña are still observable in the equatorial Pacific. […]

To Burn, or Not to Burn

Imagine smoke and haze so thick it causes ships to crash into each other, shuts down airports and sends millions of people to the hospital with respiratory problems. This was the scene in Southeast Asia in 1997 and 1998, when land-clearing fires set by massive palm oil plantations and small scale farmers burned out of […]

Homecoming

by Ken Kostel It would be easy for any graduate student to turn inward during his or her time at Columbia University, to focus solely on the long, rigorous task of publishing journal articles and completing the thesis. It would be easier still for a newly minted scientist to look anywhere other than his or […]

Multimedia: Summer Institute

Since 2008, public-health professionals and climate scientists from around the world have come to Columbia University to take part in the Summer Institute on Climate Information for Public Health. Participants spend two weeks learning how to use climate information to make better decisions for health-care planning and disease prevention. The event is organized by the International […]

La Niña Related Impacts Likely to Continue

As of mid-January, moderate-to-strong La Niña conditions continue to exist in the tropical Pacific. Scientists at the International Research Institute for Climate and Society expect these to linger, potentially causing additional shifts in rainfall patterns across many parts of the world in months to come. These shifts, combined with socioeconomic conditions and other factors, can […]

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