climate

East African humanitarian crisis

https://www.nbcnews.com/slideshow/news/refugees-flee-drought-war-in-east-africa-34244347

Severe food and security crises in Africa East Africa is suffering a deep humanitarian crisis brought about a complex interaction between war and climate, with large refugee fluxes affecting at least seven countries. The situation is compounded by strong social inequalities, fragile governments, disorganized states and the deliberate policy of some of them to use…

African geomatics centres

Many African countries have established and operate dedicated institutions dealing with remote sensing, mapping, GIS, GPS, warning systems and other geomatics applications. In addition, at the initiative of groups of countries, regional development associations such as CILSS and SADC, the Africa Union, UNECA (UN Economic Commision for Africa) and NEPAD (AU New Partnership for Africa’s…

The three rules of crop yield forecasting

When they have been in a business long enough, “experts” often develop a gusto for the more philosophical side of their trade, and crop forecasters are no exception. Strictly speaking, the philosophical aspects are not needed to build a forecasting method. They are, nevertheless, very useful to avoid naive errors that can result from applying technical methods without paying too much…

Crop monitoring dialects

There are many national and a handful of international crop monitoring and forecasting systems. All maintain websites and publish bulletins, which summarise their analyses for decision makers at the national level and beyond. A collection of national bulletins is available from the WAMIS website of WMO, as well as from a number of national agrometeorological…

Mixing time series and cross-sectional data

As I was updating a couple of things in another corner of this blog,  I stumbled upon of  a passage in a recent book by Nate Silver (2012) that has a lot of relevance for crop forecasters. It is relevant to two different but related subjects: (1) averaging different forecasts and (2) mixing cross-sectional data…

The risky business of forecasting

Forecasting the future is a difficult task, as there are many more ways to be wrong than right! In addition, a forecast is not just a statement about what might happen, it is also embedded in a context that may be as relevant as the forecast itself when it comes to assessing its credibility and…

Civilisation-ending volcanic winter (note 1)

First published 20120718 /  last updated on 20120924 Is climate change the worst nightmare scenario for our future? We know it is there to stay, and experts tell us daily about what we are to expect (note 2). Nevertheless,  the science of impacts is a very uncertain business, because it relies – through models and…

Climate change: vehemence Vs competence

This text by Didier Nordon appeared in February 2011 in Pour la science, the French edition of Scientific American (N.400, Bloc-notes, page 5). Related posts: How difficult it is to be a climatologist. The title is a pun based on a combination of la loi du plus fort (the law of the strongest) with the…

Mountain climate(s)

This note about mountain climate is an updated and expanded version of an earlier text I wrote for the website of FAO many years ago (July 2002). Since then, I have left FAO for JRC and I have actually started working on climate related risk issues in a rather mountainous country (Ethiopia)… which somehow improved…

Mixing oil, water and food in Saudi Arabia

Updated 20110922 In reaction to the first oil crisis of the mid seventies, the kingdom of Saudi Arabia decided to decrease its dependency on food imports by developing local food production using water from deep, non-renewable aquifers. This has now been going on for about thirty years now, and the country realized that, maybe, water…

La famine de 1845 en Irlande

Cette famine me fascine depuis longtemps. J’ai écrit ce petit texte il y a quelques années, et j’ai rassemblé pas mal de documentation sur le sujet. Disons que cette ébauche me servira d’amorce quand je parviendrai à me décider! Cette famine offre un exemple classique de pénurie complexe: les facteurs incluent des problèmes phytosanitaires (mildiou),…

Climate-crop impacts: some data issues

1. Introduction (*) Crop-climate interactions are of relevance for a number of applications, in food security, crop insurance, market planning and climate change impact assessments. All these fields have an interest in crop modelling and forecasting. The interest of forecasting goes beyond the immediate subjects discussed here, as all science is somehow about “forecasting”, i.e.…

How difficult it is to be a climatologist…

Just  before COP-15 took place in Copenhagen in December 2009, unknow people broke into the computers of the Climate Research Unit (CRU) at the University of East Anglia and stole email correspondence of Prof. Jones, a major figure in the IPCC.  The issue received wide media coverage and was eventually referred to as Climategate. The…

Recent rainfall and cattle trends in the Central-Western Sahel

  The graph shows recent trends of climate, urbanisation and a livestock production index (meat and milk). The data stem from various FAO sources: FAOSTAT for the production and population data, while the National Rainfall Indices (NRI) come from CLIMPAG. All variables are aggregated at the level of the “central-Eastern Sahel” by combining data from…