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July 28, 2014

Scientists analyse effects of global warming, atmospheric ozone on crops

Scientists analyse effects of global warming, atmospheric ozone on crops

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Monday, July 28, 2014

Environment
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A research team from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Colorado State University of the US and the University of Sheffield of the UK has analysed effects of global warming and ozone pollution over 2000–2050 on the worldwide production of wheat, rice, maize and soybean. The study was published in journal Nature Climate Change yesterday.

The scientists found reduction of crop yields by 2050 exceeded 10% of 2000 levels, substantially decreasing food security, in all cases examined. Several scenarios were considered because of uncertainty of future levels of ozone pollution. They estimated by 2050, increasing population and changing diet would increase world food needs by 50 percent. As coauthor Colette Heald told The Huffington Post, “The climate projections are quite consistent […] the future of ozone pollution is very different […] leading to either offsetting or reinforcing effects [of climate change] on crops”. By 2050, undernourishment would increase by either 49 percent or by 27 percent, depending on the scenario.

The study focuses on ozone–temperature covariation: ground-level ozone increases with temperatures. Heald said although temperature and ozone are separately known to impact crop yields, “nobody has looked at these together”. Depending on region and crops, the yields may be primarily sensitive to ozone —in the case of wheat— or heat —in the case of maize— alone, providing a local estimation of relative benefits of climate change adaptation versus ozone regulation.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture notes, “Ground-level ozone causes more damage to plants than all other air pollutants combined”, highlighting the importance of air quality for agriculture. Results of NCLAN studies, published in a paper by AS Heagle in 1989, show dicot species, such as soybean, cotton, and peanut, lose more yield from ozone than do monocot species such as sorghum, field corn, and winter wheat. The researchers found that ozone pollution caused 46 percent of previously heat-attributed damage to soybean crops.

The model does not include the effect of rising carbon dioxide concentration, which has complex and potentially offsetting impacts on global food supply. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency says some crops may have higher yields with increased levels of carbon dioxide. However, global warming also increases probability of extreme crops-damaging weather events such as floods, droughts, and extreme temperatures. Climate change affects distribution of weeds, pests, and diseases. Heald noted the findings show pollution reduction is also important. “An air-quality cleanup would improve crop yields […] Ozone is something that we understand the causes of, and the steps that need to be taken to improve air quality.”

As Heald told The Huffington Post, US surface ozone has dropped partly due to the Clean Air Act. “Despite an increase in vehicle miles driven and energy consumption, surface ozone has declined by 25 percent on average across the U.S. from 1980 to 2012 […] However, the future of ozone air quality in the U.S. and around the world will depend on local emissions, the use of pollution control technology, regulations, and air quality policy.”

The study was supported by the Croucher Foundation, US National Science Foundation, and US National Park Service.



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May 5, 2010

Wikinews interviews Dr. Phil Klotzbach on upcoming hurricane season

Wikinews interviews Dr. Phil Klotzbach on upcoming hurricane season

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Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Tropical cyclones – 2010

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Hurricane Earl 2010-09-02 1529Z.jpg

External/Inter-wiki links
  • 2010 Atlantic hurricane season
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On June 1, hurricane season in the Atlantic Ocean and surrounding areas will commence, signaling the potential for a tropical storm to develop at any time. After last year’s relatively quiet season, with only nine named cyclones, meteorologists are on-guard for increased activity over the upcoming summer and autumn. Hurricane season runs until November 30, and while storms are known to have developed at practically any time of the year, most tend to form within those bounds. The peak of hurricane season is considered to be within the month of September.

In 2009, a weather pattern known as El Niño in the Pacific Ocean and dust from Africa prevented many storms from developing. However, both of these inhibiting factors are relenting, and waters in some parts of the ocean are abnormally warm. As a result, forecasters are concerned that the 2010 season may be significantly more dangerous, comparing it to previous destructive periods, such as 1969, 1998 and 2005. In an exclusive interview, a Wikinews reporter talks with Colorado State University hurricane expert Dr. Phil Klotzbach on the upcoming hurricane season.

Interview

Wikinews waves Left.pngWikinewsWikinews waves Right.png Thank you for taking the time to answer some of my questions. How do you feel this year’s hurricane season will differ from last year’s?

Wikinews waves Left.pngPhil KlotzbachWikinews waves Right.pngAt this point, we expect this year will be much more active [than] last year. Last year was only characterized by nine named storms, 3 hurricanes and 2 major hurricanes. Our most recent prediction is that this year will have 15 named storms, 8 hurricanes and 4 major hurricanes. El Nino occurred last year, which increased vertical wind shear in the Atlantic, tearing apart many developing tropical cyclones. The El Nino is currently dissipating, and we expect this season to be characterized by cooler waters in the tropical Pacific, which should reduce vertical shear in the Atlantic and make for a more active season. In addition, tropical Atlantic sea surface temperatures are currently running at near-record levels. Warmer waters provide more fuel for developing tropical cyclones.

Wikinews waves Left.pngWNWikinews waves Right.png How will the 2010 season compare to seasons like 2005 and 1998, which brought about several catastrophic storms?

Wikinews waves Left.pngPKWikinews waves Right.pngAt this point, we do not expect that 2010 will have as many storms as occurred in 2005, since 2005 was characterized by extraordinary favorable conditions in the tropical Atlantic. We do not necessarily think that the sea level pressures will be as low in the tropical Atlantic in 2010 as they were in 2005. Also, landfalling storms are impossible to predict months in advance. The paths that storms take are governed a lot more by mid-latitude weather patterns, which are not predictable more than a few days in advance.

Wikinews waves Left.pngWNWikinews waves Right.png Which land areas are at greatest risk over the next several months?

Wikinews waves Left.pngPKWikinews waves Right.pngAs mentioned before, you really cannot say months in advance which areas are more likely to be hit by hurricanes.

Wikinews waves Left.pngWNWikinews waves Right.png Do you expect an above-average number of hurricane landfalls in addition to a high number of storms?

Wikinews waves Left.pngPKWikinews waves Right.pngMore active tropical cyclone seasons tend to have more landfalling hurricanes, so yes, I would say that the probability of storm landfalls is also increased this year.

The area where tropical cyclones in June, the first month of hurricane season, tend to exist
Image: NOAA.

Wikinews waves Left.pngWNWikinews waves Right.png Generally, how accurate are pre-seasons forecasts?

Wikinews waves Left.pngPKWikinews waves Right.pngSeasonal forecasts, like day-to-day weather predictions, become more and more accurate as you get closer to the event that you are trying to predict. The error bars on our current forecast (released in early April), based on our forecasts from 1995-2008 is approximately +-2.8 hurricanes. The error bar shrinks considerably by early June, to approximate +- 2.0 hurricanes.

Wikinews waves Left.pngWNWikinews waves Right.png How can residents prepare for hurricane season, and when is the best time to stock up on emergency supplies?

Wikinews waves Left.pngPKWikinews waves Right.pngIndividuals along the coastline need to prepare by having an emergency preparedness plan in place prior to the start of the hurricane season. That is, now is the time to prepare for hurricane season! A very helpful resource for developing a plan is located here:

http://www.nhc.noaa.gov/HAW2/english/disaster_prevention.shtml

Then, if a storm does threaten during the hurricane season, the important thing to do is to listen to local emergency management and follow their advice.

Wikinews waves Left.pngWNWikinews waves Right.png Finally, is it likely that tropical cyclone activity in other parts of the world will also be on the rise this year?

Wikinews waves Left.pngPKWikinews waves Right.pngWe only issue seasonal forecasts for the Atlantic basin. In general, East Pacific activity tends to go down when Atlantic activity goes up. I don’t look much at the Indian and West Pacific Oceans, from a seasonal forecasting perspective, so I cannot say much about what levels of activity can be expected there.



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This exclusive interview features first-hand journalism by a Wikinews reporter. See the collaboration page for more details.
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