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Predicting the Future of Soy in South America

By Elisabeth Gawthrop, Climate and Society ’13 During the 20th century, southeastern South America experienced a soybean boom due in part to increased summer rainfall. Soybean prices have been so high that farmers are planting this crop in areas that were traditionally considered marginal. Why rainfall increased remains unclear. Human-induced climate change, stratospheric ozone depletion […]

Food Security in the Face of Changing Climate

The Food and Agriculture Organization estimates that nearly 900 million people in the world were chronically hungry between 2010 and 2012. The organization is also warning we could face a global food crisis in 2013 because of historically low grain reserves and rising food prices. Add to this the ever-present challenge of trying to increase both production of and […]

‘This is a wake-up call – don’t hit the snooze button’

“We have to stop thinking in terms of ‘100-year events.’ It’s not going to be another 100 years before we see another extreme storm such as Sandy.” – Art Lerner-Lam, deputy director, Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory For years before Hurricane Sandy charged ashore on Monday, researchers from the Earth Institute knew what was coming. In a rapidly […]

The Truth About Verification

In December 2011, the International Research Institute for Climate and Society issued a seasonal precipitation forecast. The forecast called for a 75 percent chance of above normal precipitation over parts of the Philippines between January and March. As the months played out, storms brought roughly eight inches more rain than usual for the period. That’s about 85 percent […]

From Birmingham to Bamako: How Farmers Deal with Drought

by Vanessa Meadu, Francesco Fiondella and Brian Kahn The massive and wide-scale drought that has left American farmers shaking their fists at barren clouds is the fifth-worst on record for the U.S. Eight out of every 10 acres of agricultural land has been affected. As a result, farmers will pull in the lowest corn yield […]

IRI’s New Director

Lisa Goddard, a leading expert on climate change and El Niño’s influence on climate has been appointed director of the International Research Institute for Climate and Society, part of Columbia University’s Earth Institute. The IRI is devoted to studying climate prediction and helping vulnerable societies anticipate, prevent and manage climate-related events such as droughts, floods […]

Photo Essay: Into the Heart of Dryness

Niger is one of the poorest countries in the world. Life expectancy there is 54 years, and it has an infant mortality rate higher than any other country except Afghanistan. It is also a country that is extremely vulnerable to climate variability and change. The livelihoods of four out of five people in Niger depend […]

Decadal Prediction: The New Kid on the Block

Climate scientists generally group future outlooks of the earth’s climate into two, and now possibly three, time-scales. First, there’s short term, or seasonal forecasting, which covers the next month to a year into the future. The International Research Institute for Climate and Society and other centers in the U.S. and around the world issue new […]

Is Drought In East Africa The New Normal?

Earlier this month, we wrote about a report from the US Agency for International Development’s Famine and Early Warning Systems Network (FEWS NET) that warns the Horn of Africa may once again face food shortages because of a poorly performing rainy season. In January, climate scientists Bradfield Lyon and David Dewitt from the International Research Institute for Climate and Society […]

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