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Climate science for adaptation

December 3, 2010

Science is the basis on which the 4th Assessment Report by the IPCC is written.

Through observations and data, complex equations, elaborate calculations and predictions, and the scientific method, the severity of climate change was recognised and cemented in the international scientific community. It has produced indisputable evidence (though some may not agree) of rising sea levels, global warming temperatures and reduction of Artic sea ice.

However, climate science has taken on a greater job beyond being the bearer of bad news. It can provide solutions.

Firstly, satellite data can be used to produce maps and graphs that in real time, can identify trends to predict possible disasters.

For example,climate variability is detected through changes in rainfall, soil moisture, vegetation growth, evapotranspiration rates and crop yield. In a specific area, lower rainfall would result in a drought, trees dying and crop failure. Satellite data would reflect a change in these factors over time, and the upward or downward curve in trend would be useful for prediction. Knowing what kind of disaster is going to occur would greatly reduce its impact if measures are taken beforehand. Before a drought hits an area hard, prediction can allow governments and citizens to stockpile on water or food, thus preventing famine.

This is the type of data that is promoted by the United States Geological Survey in their technology called Famine Early Warning Systems Network (FEWS NET) which is mostly being used in Africa to alleviate food security woes.

Next, this information is complete free and available to everyone, whether you are in the private or public sector. Both the USGS and ESA believe in publishing this information and making it widely available such that governments, agencies or the public can make their own contingency plans.

The European Space Agency hosted a panel discussion on Thursday, 3 December at Cancun Messe. Read about it here:

ESA- Observing the Earth – Importance of satellite data highlighted at climate summit

The USGS held a side event at the US Center on Wednesday, 2 December. This and other events at the US Center are streamed live on their website.

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