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Archive for the ‘weather and climate’ Category

Poverty and Crime: Evidence from Rainfall and Trade Shocks in India

April 21, 2014 Comments off

Poverty and Crime: Evidence from Rainfall and Trade Shocks in India
Source: Harvard Business School Working Papers

Does poverty lead to crime? We shed light on this question using two independent and exogenous shocks to household income in rural India: the dramatic reduction in import tariffs in the early 1990s and rainfall variations. We find that trade shocks, previously shown to raise relative poverty, also increased the incidence of violent crimes and property crimes. The relationship between trade shocks and crime is similar to the observed relationship between rainfall shocks and crime. Our results thus identify a causal effect of poverty on crime. They also lend credence to a large literature on the effects of weather shocks on crime and conflict, which has usually assumed that the income channel is the most relevant one.

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CRS — Green Infrastructure and Issues in Managing Urban Stormwater

April 17, 2014 Comments off

Green Infrastructure and Issues in Managing Urban Stormwater (PDF)
Source: Congressional Research Service (via National Agricultural Law Center)

For decades, stormwater, or runoff, was considered largely a problem of excess rainwater or snowmelt impacting communities. Prevailing engineering practices were to move stormwater away from cities as rapidly as possible to avoid potential damages from flooding. More recently, these practices have evolved and come to recognize stormwater as a resource that, managed properly within communities, has multiple benefits.

Linkages Between Arctic Warming and Mid-Latitude Weather Patterns: Summary of a Workshop (2014)

April 11, 2014 Comments off

Linkages Between Arctic Warming and Mid-Latitude Weather Patterns: Summary of a Workshop (2014)
Source: National Research Council

The Arctic has been undergoing significant changes in recent years. Average temperatures are rising twice as fast as they are elsewhere in the world. The extent and thickness of sea ice is rapidly declining. Such changes may have an impact on atmospheric conditions outside the region. Several hypotheses for how Arctic warming may be influencing mid-latitude weather patterns have been proposed recently. For example, Arctic warming could lead to a weakened jet stream resulting in more persistent weather patterns in the mid-latitudes. Or Arctic sea ice loss could lead to an increase of snow on high-latitude land, which in turn impacts the jet stream resulting in cold Eurasian and North American winters. These and other potential connections between a warming Arctic and mid-latitude weather are the subject of active research.

Linkages Between Arctic Warming and Mid-Latitude Weather Patterns is the summary of a workshop convened in September 2013 by the National Research Council to review our current understanding and to discuss research needed to better understand proposed linkages. A diverse array of experts examined linkages between a warming Arctic and mid-latitude weather patterns. The workshop included presentations from leading researchers representing a range of views on this topic. The workshop was organized to allow participants to take a global perspective and consider the influence of the Arctic in the context of forcing from other components of the climate system, such as changes in the tropics, ocean circulation, and mid-latitude sea surface temperature. This report discusses our current understanding of the mechanisms that link declines in Arctic sea ice cover, loss of high-latitude snow cover, changes in Arctic-region energy fluxes, atmospheric circulation patterns, and the occurrence of extreme weather events; possible implications of more severe loss of summer Arctic sea ice upon weather patterns at lower latitudes; major gaps in our understanding, and observational and/or modeling efforts that are needed to fill those gaps; and current opportunities and limitations for using Arctic sea ice predictions to assess the risk of temperature/precipitation anomalies and extreme weather events over northern continents.

Update on National Hurricane Center Products and Services for 2014

April 11, 2014 Comments off

Update on NHC Products and Services for 2014 (PDF)
Source: NOAA (National Hurricane Center)

NOAA’s National Hurricane Center (NHC) will implement the following changes to its text and graphical products for the 2014 hurricane season…

2013-2014 Winter Heating Costs for Older and Low-Income Households

April 2, 2014 Comments off

2013-2014 Winter Heating Costs for Older and Low-Income Households
Source: AARP Research

Record breaking cold weather this heating season will leave many older American households facing higher heating costs than last year. While heating costs continue to be higher for households heating with fuel oil than those heating with natural gas or electricity, costs to heat with natural gas, electricity, and propane have risen for many households across the United States.

This report analyzes data from the 2009 Residential Energy Consumption Surveys and the February 2014 Short-Term Energy Outlook. It examines heating-related energy consumption and expenditures among consumers age 65 and older based on income, heating fuel used, and geographic location. Winter heating costs are likely to be a greater burden on older low-income households than on similarly aged higher-income households, even though low-income households tend to use less heating fuel than other groups. This report will be updated monthly through March 2014 as new data are released.

CRS — Emergency Water Assistance During Drought: Federal Non-Agricultural Programs

March 31, 2014 Comments off

Emergency Water Assistance During Drought: Federal Non-Agricultural Programs (PDF)
Source: Congressional Research Service (via National Agricultural Law Center)

Drought conditions often fuel congressional interest in federal assistance. While drought planning and preparedness are largely individual, business, local, and state responsibilities, some federal assistance is available to mitigate drought impacts. While much of the federal assistance is targeted at mitigating impacts on the agricultural economy, other federal programs are authorized to provide non-agricultural water assistance. Interest in these non-agricultural programs often increases as communities, households, and businesses experience shrinking and less reliable water supplies. Authorized federal assistance is spread across a variety of agencies, and each has limitations on what activities and entities are eligible and the funding that is available.

GA Gov. Deal: Report will play a key role in future winter storm response

March 6, 2014 Comments off

Deal: Report will play a key role in future winter storm response
Source: Georgia Office of the Governor

Gov. Nathan Deal today received the internal review and action plan he ordered from state agency heads involved in emergency response during the winter storm of Jan. 26-30.

“Our state experienced two severe winter storms in two weeks, events that tested the resilience and preparedness of all Georgians,” Deal said. “Following the first storm, I implemented immediate action items as well as initiated an internal review by state agency heads. The action items paid off. Our state for the second storm was more informed and prepared through the cellphones alerts, emails to school superintendents and consultations with local meteorologists. The safety of our citizens is of the utmost importance, and this report will play a key role in shaping the way our state government agencies prepare for and prevent dangerous winter weather situations.”

State agency heads from the Georgia Emergency Management Agency, the Department of Public Safety, the Department of Natural Resources, the Department of Defense and the Department of Transportation met to examine the events of the winter storm, which was found to be an extremely unusual circumstance based on data from the National Weather Service.

The report includes short- and long-term solutions, some of which have already been successfully implemented.

2013-2014 Winter Heating Costs for Older and Low-Income Households

March 3, 2014 Comments off

2013-2014 Winter Heating Costs for Older and Low-Income Households
Source: AARP Public Policy Institute

Record breaking cold weather this heating season will leave many older American households facing higher heating costs than last year.  While heating costs continue to be higher for households heating with fuel oil than those heating with natural gas or electricity, costs to heat with natural gas, electricity, and propane have risen for many households across the United States.

This report analyzes data from the 2009 Residential Energy Consumption Surveys and the February 2014 Short-Term Energy Outlook. It examines heating-related energy consumption and expenditures among consumers age 65 and older based on income, heating fuel used, and geographic location. Winter heating costs are likely to be a greater burden on older low-income households than on similarly aged higher-income households, even though low-income households tend to use less heating fuel than other groups. This report will be updated monthly through March 2014 as new data are released.

NOAA State of the Climate — January Global Temperature Fourth Highest on Record

February 21, 2014 Comments off

January Global Temperature Fourth Highest on Record
Source: NOAA

According to NOAA scientists, the globally-averaged temperature over land and ocean surfaces for January 2014 was the highest since 2007 and the fourth highest for January since reliable record keeping began in 1880. It also marked the 38th consecutive January and 347th consecutive month (almost 29 years) with a global temperature above the 20th century average. The last below-average January global temperature was January 1976 and the last below-average global temperature for any month was February 1985.

Most areas of the world experienced warmer-than-average monthly temperatures, with the most notable warmth across Alaska, western Canada, southern Greenland, south-central Russia, Mongolia, and northern China. Parts of southeastern Brazil and central and southern Africa experienced record warmth, contributing to the warmest January Southern Hemisphere land temperature departure on record at 2.03°F (1.13°C) above the 20th century average. Temperature departures were below the long-term average across the eastern half of the contiguous U.S, Mexico, and much of Russia. However, no regions of the globe were record cold.

CRS — Agricultural Disaster Assistance

February 19, 2014 Comments off

Agricultural Disaster Assistance (PDF)
Source: Congressional Research Service (via National Agricultural Law Center)

The U.S. Department of Agricult ure (USDA) offers several permanently authorized programs to help farmers recover financially from a natural disaster, including federal crop insurance, the Noninsured Crop Disaster Assistance Program (NAP ), and emergency disaster loans. The federal crop insurance program is designed to protect crop producers from unavoidable risks associated with adverse weather, and weather-related plant diseases and insect infestations. Producers who grow a crop that is currently ineligible for cr op insurance may be eligible for a payment under NAP. Under the emergency disaster (EM) loan program, when a county has been declared a disaster area by either the President or the Secret ary of Agriculture, agricultural producers in that county may become eligible for low-interest loans.

Amidst Bitter Cold and Rising Energy Costs, New Concerns About Energy Insecurity

February 16, 2014 Comments off

Amidst Bitter Cold and Rising Energy Costs, New Concerns About Energy Insecurity
Source: Columbia University (Mailman School of Public Health)

With many regions of the country facing an unrelenting cold snap, the problem of energy insecurity continues to go unreported despite its toll on the most vulnerable. In a new brief, researchers at the Mailman School of Public Health paint a picture of the families most impacted by this problem and suggest recommendations to alleviate its chokehold on millions of struggling Americans. The authors note that government programs to address energy insecurity are coming up short, despite rising energy costs.

Energy Insecurity (EI) is measured by the proportion of household energy expenditures relative to household income. Lower-income families are more likely to experience EI because they tend to live in housing that has not benefited from the structural improvements that wealthier Americans can afford.

Climate change effects on human health: projections of temperature-related mortality for the UK during the 2020s, 2050s and 2080s

February 5, 2014 Comments off

Climate change effects on human health: projections of temperature-related mortality for the UK during the 2020s, 2050s and 2080s (PDF)
Source: Journal of Epidemiology & Community Health

Background
The most direct way in which climate change is expected to affect public health relates to changes in mortality rates associated with exposure to ambient temperature. Many countries worldwide experience annual heat-related and cold-related deaths associated with current weather patterns. Future changes in climate may alter such risks. Estimates of the likely future health impacts of such changes are needed to inform public health policy on climate change in the UK and elsewhere.

Methods
Time-series regression analysis was used to characterise current temperature-mortality relationships by region and age group. These were then applied to the local climate and population projections to estimate temperature-related deaths for the UK by the 2020s, 2050s and 2080s. Greater variability in future temperatures as well as changes in mean levels was modelled.

Results
A significantly raised risk of heat-related and cold-related mortality was observed in all regions. The elderly were most at risk. In the absence of any adaptation of the population, heat-related deaths would be expected to rise by around 257% by the 2050s from a current annual baseline of around 2000 deaths, and cold-related mortality would decline by 2% from a baseline of around 41 000 deaths. The cold burden remained higher than the heat burden in all periods. The increased number of future temperature-related deaths was partly driven by projected population growth and ageing.

Conclusions
Health protection from hot weather will become increasingly necessary, and measures to reduce cold impacts will also remain important in the UK. The demographic changes expected this century mean that the health protection of the elderly will be vital.

WEF — Global Risks 2014

January 23, 2014 Comments off

Global Risks 2014
Source: World Economic Forum
From press release:

The chronic gap between the incomes of the richest and poorest citizens is seen as the risk that is most likely to cause serious damage globally in the coming decade, according to over 700 global experts that contributed to the World Economic Forum’s Global Risks 2014 report, released today.

Taking a 10-year outlook, the report assesses 31 risks that are global in nature and have the potential to cause significant negative impact across entire countries and industries if they take place. The risks are grouped under five classifications – economic, environmental, geopolitical, societal and technological – and measured in terms of their likelihood and potential impact.

Most likely global risks: After income disparity, experts see extreme weather events as the global risk next most likely to cause systemic shock on a global scale. This is followed by unemployment and underemployment, climate change and cyberattacks.

Most potentially impactful global risks: Fiscal crises feature as the global risk that experts believe has the potential to have the biggest impact on systems and countries over the course of the next 10 years. This economic risk is followed by two environmental risks – climate change and water crises – then unemployment and underemployment, and then critical information infrastructure breakdown, a technological risk.

Winter Storms

January 8, 2014 Comments off

Winter Storms
Source: Insurance Information Institute

Winter storms caused $1.9 billion in insured losses in 2013, up dramatically from $38 million in 2012, according to reports from Munich Re. From 1993 to 2012 winter storms resulted in about $28 billion in insured catastrophe losses (in 2012 dollars), or more than $1 billion a year on average, according to Property Claim Services (PCS).

EURO-CORDEX: new high-resolution climate change projections for European impact research

December 5, 2013 Comments off

EURO-CORDEX: new high-resolution climate change projections for European impact research
Source: Regional Environmental Change

A new high-resolution regional climate change ensemble has been established for Europe within the World Climate Research Program Coordinated Regional Downscaling Experiment (EURO-CORDEX) initiative. The first set of simulations with a horizontal resolution of 12.5 km was completed for the new emission scenarios RCP4.5 and RCP8.5 with more simulations expected to follow. The aim of this paper is to present this data set to the different communities active in regional climate modelling, impact assessment and adaptation. The EURO-CORDEX ensemble results have been compared to the SRES A1B simulation results achieved within the ENSEMBLES project. The large-scale patterns of changes in mean temperature and precipitation are similar in all three scenarios, but they differ in regional details, which can partly be related to the higher resolution in EURO-CORDEX. The results strengthen those obtained in ENSEMBLES, but need further investigations. The analysis of impact indices shows that for RCP8.5, there is a substantially larger change projected for temperature-based indices than for RCP4.5. The difference is less pronounced for precipitation-based indices. Two effects of the increased resolution can be regarded as an added value of regional climate simulations. Regional climate model simulations provide higher daily precipitation intensities, which are completely missing in the global climate model simulations, and they provide a significantly different climate change of daily precipitation intensities resulting in a smoother shift from weak to moderate and high intensities.

See: More Extreme Weather Events Likely: Climate Projections of Unparalleled Accuracy for the Whole of Europe (Science Daily)

NOAA: Slow Atlantic hurricane season coming to a close

December 3, 2013 Comments off

NOAA: Slow Atlantic hurricane season coming to a close
Source: National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

The 2013 Atlantic hurricane season, which officially ends on Saturday, Nov. 30, had the fewest number of hurricanes since 1982, thanks in large part to persistent, unfavorable atmospheric conditions over the Gulf of Mexico, Caribbean Sea, and tropical Atlantic Ocean. This year is expected to rank as the sixth-least-active Atlantic hurricane season since 1950, in terms of the collective strength and duration of named storms and hurricanes.

CRS — U.S.-Mexico Water Sharing: Background and Recent Developments

November 26, 2013 Comments off

U.S.-Mexico Water Sharing: Background and Recent Developments (PDF)
Source: Congressional Research Service (via Federation of American Scientists)

The United States and Mexico share the Colorado River and Rio Grande pursuant to binational agreements. Compliance with these agreements becomes more complicated and controversial as water demands near or exceed available supplies and when drought and high heat further reduce availability and increase demand.

Protecting Snow and Ice Critical for Development, Climate

November 13, 2013 Comments off

Protecting Snow and Ice Critical for Development, Climate
Source: World Bank

Each year, the snow line on the Himalayan and Andean mountain slopes continues to creep up, exposing brown dirt where 50 years ago there was always snow. Communities downstream from those majestic peaks now watch as big lakes formed by melting glaciers cause catastrophic floods in some areas, while lack of snow melt lead to crippling drought in others.

At the same time, 4 million people perish each year from the smoke they inhale from open-fire cooking – soot that also rises into the atmosphere and speeds up the melting of ice and snow.

Pollution from open fires and diesel engines (known as black carbon), and methane gas released from livestock, landfills and mining operations; are some of the pollutants scientists say must quickly be curtailed to protect human welfare and tackle climate change.

A new scientific report shows that by moving rapidly to reduce such short-lived climate pollutants (SLCP), we could slow the warming in critical snow and ice-covered regions with multiple benefits as a result.

Model projections of atmospheric steering of Sandy-like superstorms

September 30, 2013 Comments off

Model projections of atmospheric steering of Sandy-like superstorms
Source: Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences

Superstorm Sandy ravaged the eastern seaboard of the United States, costing a great number of lives and billions of dollars in damage. Whether events like Sandy will become more frequent as anthropogenic greenhouse gases continue to increase remains an open and complex question. Here we consider whether the persistent large-scale atmospheric patterns that steered Sandy onto the coast will become more frequent in the coming decades. Using the Coupled Model Intercomparison Project, phase 5 multimodel ensemble, we demonstrate that climate models consistently project a decrease in the frequency and persistence of the westward flow that led to Sandy’s unprecedented track, implying that future atmospheric conditions are less likely than at present to propel storms westward into the coast.

New From the GAO

September 19, 2013 Comments off

New From the GAO
Source: Government Accountability Office

Reports

1. Polar Weather Satellites: NOAA Identified Ways to Mitigate Data Gaps, but Contingency Plans and Schedules Require Further Attention. GAO-13-676, September 11.
http://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-13-676
Highlights – http://www.gao.gov/assets/660/657778.pdf

2. Geostationary Weather Satellites: Progress Made, but Weaknesses in Scheduling, Contingency Planning, and Communicating with Users Need to Be Addressed. GAO-13-597, September 9.
http://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-13-597
Highlights – http://www.gao.gov/assets/660/657517.pdf

3. Climate Change: State Should Further Improve Its Reporting on Financial Support to Developing Countries to Meet Future Requirements and Guidelines. GAO-13-829, September 19.
http://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-13-829
Highlights – http://www.gao.gov/assets/660/657986.pdf

Testimonies

1. Environmental Satellites: Focused Attention Needed to Improve Mitigation Strategies for Satellite Coverage Gaps, by David A. Powner, director, information technology management issues, before the Subcommittees on Environment and Oversight, House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology. GAO-13-865T, September 19.
http://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-13-865T

2. Homeland Security: Observations on DHS’s Oversight of Major Acquisitions and Efforts to Match Resources to Needs, by Michele Mackin, director, acquisition and sourcing management, before the Subcommittee on Oversight and Management Efficiency, House Committee on Homeland Security. GAO-13-846T, September 19.
http://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-13-846T
Highlights – http://www.gao.gov/assets/660/657970.pdf

Press Release

1. GAO Announces Chair and Vice Chair of the Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute (PCORI) Board of Governors, September 19.
http://www.gao.gov/press/pcori_2013sep19.html

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