Climate and Agriculture

In the chilly 24-hour daylight of a spring night, Lamont-Doherty climatologist William D’Andrea surveys Borgpollen, an inland bay on the island of Vestvagoya. Connected to the Atlantic Ocean by a series of passages, the bay once was home to Vikings and their seagoing ships. Some of the islands’ best crop and grazing land is in surrounding hills and valleys, but it was often marginal, depending on weather.

Photo Essay: Climate Change, Sea Level and the Vikings

A thousand years ago, powerful Viking chieftans flourished in Norway’s Lofoten Islands, above the Arctic Circle. In an environment frequently hovering on the edge of survivability, small shifts in climate or sea level could mean life or death. People had to constantly adapt, making their living from the land and the sea as best they could.

by |September 26, 2017
Out on the water, D’Andrea (right) and William & Mary student Moussa Dia assemble a mechanism that they will use to take a core of the bottom.

What the Vikings Can Teach Us About Adapting to Climate Change

The rise of the Vikings was not a sudden event, but part of a long continuum of human development in the harsh conditions of northern Scandinavia. How did the Vikings make a living over the long term, and what might have influenced their brief florescence? Today, their experiences may provide a kind of object lesson on how changing climate can affect civilizations.

by |September 26, 2017
Africa's Sahel region could suddenly get far more rainfall as global warming proceeds, says a new study. Here, farmers in Mali, one of the countries potentially affected, harvest okra. (Francesco Fiondella/International Research Institute for Climate and Society)

Warming Climate Could Abruptly Increase Rain in Africa’s Sahel

Climate change could turn one of Africa’s driest regions wet, according to a new study. Scientists have found evidence in computer simulations for a possible abrupt change in the Sahel, a region long characterized by aridity and political instability. In the study, just published in the journal Earth System Dynamics, the authors detected a self-amplifying… read more

by |July 5, 2017
As rain belts shift due to uneven heating across the globe, wet areas will become wetter and dryer areas dryer, a new study affirms. Here, visitors cross a Panama farm field in a winter downpour. (Kevin Krajick/Earth Institute)

In a Warmer World, Expect the Wet to Get Wetter, and the Dry, Drier

As the world warms due to human-induced climate change, many scientists have been projecting that global rainfall patterns will shift. In the latest such study, two leading researchers map out how seasonal shifts may affect water resources across the planet.

by |May 31, 2017
The M.B. Mowali, our home for the next two days for the run to Hiron Point and back.

Side Trip to Hiron Point, Sundarbans

After helping Chris an Dan with soil salinity and reflectance measurement, Humayun, Liz and I moved onto the smaller M.B. Mewl to sail through the Sundarban Mangrove Forest to service our GPS station at Hiron Point.

by |January 31, 2017
MeSampling

Back to Bangladesh to Date Earthquakes and More

I’m back in Bangladesh with a small team after a year and a half away. One different is a police escort as a result of the attacks last year. We start by successfully sampling river sediments to correct the date of an earthquake that caused a river to shift over 3,500 years ago. We also will be fixing broken equipment, visiting the ever changing rivers and hopefully meeting with the public and government officials about the earthquake hazard.

by |January 27, 2017
Due to global warming the polar bear's habitat has changed drastically. Photo: Gerard Van der Leun

Climate Week: Why Does It Matter?

Climate Week NYC 2016, Sept. 19 to 35, features over 70 events bringing together business, societal and government leaders to share ideas, technologies, resources and success stories that are helping to curb climate change and transition to a low-carbon society.

by |September 15, 2016
SDGs logos together

4th International Sustainable Development Conference Coming up

The world is working on sustainable development. And many of the new ideas and innovations being applied to fields from agriculture and food security to climate adaptation to socially inclusive economic growth will be on display at the fourth annual International Conference on Sustainable Development, to be held at Columbia University Sept. 21-22.

by |September 8, 2016
In 2011, cyclone-driven floods hit eastern coastal Madagascar, damaging crops and infrastructure and displacing populations. At the same time the island nation’s southwest was suffering from two years of drought. Food shocks caused by climate-related events can have far-reaching repurcussions. Photo: Bruno Rakoson/World Food Programme

Preparing for Climate-Related Food Shocks

Researchers are investigating if the projected increase in climate change-generated droughts, floods, heat waves and other intense short-term occurrences will result in increased shocks that could jeopardize food security worldwide.

by |June 14, 2016
This chart shows the number of operational weather stations in Rwanda.

Filling a Climate Gap and Helping Rwandan Farmers

Agriculture makes up a major portion of Rwanda’s economy, and employs eight in 10 Rwandans. Of course, farmers are hugely dependent on the climate, and a new project hopes to ensure they get timely information so they can plan for both good times and bad.

by |March 24, 2016