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News articles on drought

Mongabay.com news articles on drought in blog format. Updated regularly.









Desertification threatens 38 percent of the world

(02/10/2010) Over one third of the world's land surface (38 percent) is threatened with desertification, according to a new study published in theInternational Journal of Life Cycle Assessment. The study found that eight of fifteen eco-regions are threatened by desertification, including coastal areas, the prairies, the Mediterranean region, the savannah, the temperate steppes, the temperate deserts, tropical and subtropical steppes, and the tropical and subtropical deserts.


Starving hyenas kill and eat 12-foot-long python during drought

(01/05/2010) Members with the conservation group Lion Guardians stumbled on a rare site in the Amboseli area of Kenya recently: six hyenas and a number of jackals were attacking and eating a 12-foot-long python. On their blog at WildlifeDirect, Lion Guardians describe the attack: "[the hyenas and jackals] tore into its body from the back, and were taking their share while the upper part of the python was still alive! The Lion Guardian team was shocked and surprised at the same time, having never seen anything like it before."


Pope Benedict: environmental crisis requires review of world's economic model

(12/15/2009) Pope Benedict XVI has released a message linking world peace with preserving the environment for the World Day of Peace, which will be held on January 1st 2010. In it Benedict calls for a "long-term review" of the world's current economic model, including "[moving] beyond a purely consumerist mentality" and encouraging a more "sober lifestyle".


Photos: ten beloved species threatened by global warming

(12/14/2009) The International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) has released a list of ten species that are likely to be among the hardest hit by climate change, including beloved species such as the leatherback sea turtle, the koala, the emperor penguin, the clownfish, and the beluga whale. The timing of the list coincides with the negotiations by world leaders at the UN Climate Change Conference to come up with an international agreement to combat climate change.


Current decade is the warmest on record

(12/08/2009) As 192 countries meet in Copenhagen to wrangle out a complex and at times sticky agreement to combat climate change, the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) has released new evidence that the world is undergoing warming. According to the WMO the current decade is likely the warmest on record.


Profile of the carbon footprint of the global poor: the challenge of alleviating poverty and fighting global warming

(12/07/2009) Two of the world's most serious issues—poverty and climate change—are interconnected. With a rise in one's income there usually comes a rise in one's carbon footprint, thereby threatening the environment. Wealthy nations have the highest per capita carbon footprints, while developing nations like India and China—which are experiencing unprecedented economic growth—are becoming massive contributors of greenhouse gases. However, it is those who have the smallest carbon footprint—the world's poor—who currently suffer most from climate change. Food crises, water shortages, extreme weather, and rising sea levels have all hit the poor the hardest.


Global warming will increase likelihood of civil war in Africa by 55 percent

(11/23/2009) There have been many warnings by policymakers that rising temperatures in Africa could lead to civil conflict, however a new study in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences is the first to uncover empirical evidence for these warnings and quantify them. The results—that higher temperatures increased the likelihood of civil war in sub-Saharan Africa by over 50 percent—took aback even the researchers.


Nations vulnerable to global warming present demands: carbon levels below 350ppm and billions in aid

(11/10/2009) A group of nations especially vulnerable to the effects of climate change have released a declaration calling for developed countries to keep CO2 emission below 350 parts per million (ppm) and to give 1.5 percent of their gross domestic product to aid developing nations in adapting to the myriad impacts of climate change.


NASA satellite image reveals extent of drought in East Africa

(11/05/2009) A new image from NASA shows the severity of the drought in East Africa, which impacted Tanzania, Kenya, Ethiopia, and Somalia.


Kenya's pain, part two: decades of wildlife decline exacerbated by drought

(10/20/2009) Not many years ago if you were planning a trip to Africa to see wildlife, Kenya would be near the top of the list, if not number one. Then violent riots in late 2007 and early 2008 leaving a thousand dead tarnished the country's image abroad. When calm and stability returned, Kenya was again open for tourism, and it's true that most travelers were quick to forget: articles earlier this year announced that even with the global economic crisis Kenya was expecting tourism growth. However, a new disaster may not be so quickly overcome.


Kenya's pain: famine, drought, government ambivalence cripples once stable nation

(09/17/2009) Kenya was once considered one of Sub-Saharan Africa's success stories: the country possessed a relatively stable government, a good economy, a thriving tourist industry due to a beautiful landscape and abundant wildlife. But violent protests following a disputed election in 2007 hurt the country's reputation, and then—even worse—drought and famine struck the country this year. The government response has been lackluster, the international community has been distracted by the economic crisis, and suddenly Kenya seems no longer to be the light of East Africa, but a warning to the world about the perils of ignoring climate change, government corruption, and the global food and water shortages.


Guatemala latest country to declare food crisis: nearly half a million families face food shortages

(09/10/2009) The President of Guatemala, Alvaro Colom, has announced a "state of public calamity" to tackle food shortages throughout the Central American nation. The failure of bean and corn crops from drought, which cut the yields of these staple crops in half, has brought the crisis to a head. In addition, prime agricultural land in Guatemala is often used to grow export crops like coffee and sugar rather than staples.


Air pollution in China reduces rainfall

(08/31/2009) Air pollution in eastern China over the past half century has reduced rainfall and exacerbated the risk of drought and crop failures, reports a study published in the Journal of Geophysical Research.


Massive deforestation in the past decreased rainfall in Asia

(06/25/2009) Between 1700 and 1850 forest cover in India and China plummeted, falling from 40-50 percent of land area to 5-10 percent. Forests were cut for agricultural use across Southeast Asia to feed a growing population, but the changes from forests to crops had unforeseen consequences. A new study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences links this deforestation across Southeast Asia with changes in the Asian Monsoon, including significantly decreased rainfall.


The living dead - Australia's disappearing landscape

(06/24/2009) Gum trees dot the hills and valleys of south-eastern Australia, a vivid fixture of the rolling landscape. But despite the seeming health of these iconic trees, they have earned the morbid nickname "the living dead" among ecologists, who say natural changes and human actions are threatening the next generation of gum trees. The gum trees that are scattered through the landscape are naturally dying off at a rate of one to two percent each year. With no replacement, researchers fear more than 100,000 square kilometers of land could be virtually treeless within the next 100 years.


Drought threatens rare desert elephants

(05/21/2009) The worst drought in 26 years is threatening a rare herd of desert elephants in the West African country of Mail, warns the conservation organization Save the Elephants. The herd of 350-450 desert elephants live in the Gourma district of Mali,resting in the Sahel belt that separates the Saharan desert from the Sudan.


River systems worldwide are losing water due to global warming

(04/22/2009) Many rivers around the world are losing water due to global climate change, according to a new study from the American Meteorological Society's Journal of Climate. Large populations depend on some of the rivers for everything from agriculture to clean drinking resources, including the Yellow River, the Ganges, the Niger, and the Colorado, which have all shown significant declines.


Colorado River unlikely to meet current water demands in warmer, drier world

(04/20/2009) Feeding the water habits of such major cities as Los Angeles, Las Vegas, and Phoenix, in addition to providing irrigation waters for the entire Southwestern United States, has stretched the Colorado River thin. The river no longer consistently reaches the sea as it once did. Now a new study warns that the Colorado River system, which has proven dependable for human use throughout the 20th Century, may soon experience shortages due to global warming.


Droughts lasting centuries in West Africa are commonplace

(04/16/2009) New evidence shows that sub-Saharan West Africa has experienced megadroughts in recent history lasting hundreds of years, far worse than the Sahel drought of the 1970s and 80s which left 100,000 dead. To uncover West Africa’s past drought patterns, researchers compiled a year-by-year record of the last 3,000 years of climate in West Africa by looking at annually-occurring layers of sediment in Lake Bosumtwi in Ghana.


Trees in trouble: massive die-offs predicted with global warming

(04/13/2009) An experimental study of pinon pines at Biosphere 2 in Arizona shows that an increase in temperature makes the species more susceptible to die-off during drought. When temperatures were increased by 4 degrees Celsius (7.2 degrees Fahrenheit), the piñon pines died 28 percent faster than trees which experienced drought-conditions at current temperatures, according to a new study published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS).


Revolutionary new theory overturns modern meteorology with claim that forests move rain

(04/01/2009) Two Russian scientists, Victor Gorshkov and Anastassia Makarieva of the St. Petersburg Nuclear Physics, have published a revolutionary theory that turns modern meteorology on its head, positing that forests—and their capacity for condensation—are actually the main driver of winds rather than temperature. While this model has widespread implications for numerous sciences, none of them are larger than the importance of conserving forests, which are shown to be crucial to 'pumping' precipitation from one place to another. The theory explains, among other mysteries, why deforestation around coastal regions tends to lead to drying in the interior.


Fire in Kenya threatens some of the world's most beloved parks

(03/24/2009) Started by arsonists, fires have swept through Kenya's Great Rift valley, home of some of the world's most treasured parks and ten million Kenyans already suffering from long-term drought.


Drought threatens the Amazon rainforest as a carbon sink

(03/05/2009) Drought in the Amazon is imperiling the rainforest ecosystem and global climate, reports new research published in Science. Analyzing the impact of the severe Amazon drought of 2005, a team of 68 researchers across 13 countries found evidence that rainfall-starved tropical forests lose massive amounts of carbon due to reduced plant growth and dying trees. The 2005 drought — triggered by warming in the tropical North Atlantic rather than el Niño — resulted in a net flux of 5 billion tons of carbon dioxide (CO2) into the atmosphere — more than the combined annual emissions of Japan and Europe — relative to normal years when the Amazon is a net sink for 2 billion tons of CO2.


Secretary of Energy warns of dire future for agriculture in California

(02/05/2009) Secretary of Energy Steven Chu warned climate change could severely impact California agricultural industry by the end of the century, reported the Los Angeles Times.


California faces severe drought

(01/30/2009) California appears to be on track for its worst drought since the early 1990s, warned the state's Department of Water Resources (DWR) following its survey of snowpack and other water resources.


Many global warming impacts may be irreversible in next 1000 years

(01/27/2009) Even if greenhouse gas emissions were to cease today, many of the forecast impacts of climate change are already irreversible for at least the next 1000 years, report researchers writing in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.


Climate change killing forests in the western U.S.

(01/22/2009) Tree death rates in old-growth forests of the western United States have more more than doubled in recent decades likely because of regional climate warming, report researchers writing in the journal Science.


Observed sea level rise, ice melt far outpaces projections

(12/17/2008) Sea levels will rise faster than previously estimated due to rapid melting of glaciers and ice sheets, according to a U.S government report released at the annual meeting of the American Geophysical Union in San Francisco. The report, titled Abrupt Climate Change, incorporates research published since last year's Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report, which drew largely from studies dating up to 2006. Most significantly, Abrupt Climate Change suggests that IPCC estimates for future sea level rise (18-58 cm) are conservative, noting that recent observations on sea level rise and loss of sea ice are far outpacing previous projections.


Drought and deforestation in southeast Asia linked to climate change

(12/09/2008) Researchers have linked drought and deforestation in southeast Asia to climate change. Analyzing six years of climate and fire data from satellites, Guido van der Werf and colleagues report that burning of rainforests and peatlands in Indonesia, Malaysia, and Papua New Guinea released an average of 128 million tons of carbon (470 million tons of carbon dioxide - CO2) per year between 2000 and 2006. Fire emissions showed highly variability during the period, but were greatest in dry years, such as those that occur during El Niño events. Borneo was the largest source of fire emissions during the period, averaging 74 million tons per year, followed by Sumatra, which showed a doubling in emissions between 2000 and 2006.


Climate change will damage forests, creating hardship for rural communities

(11/28/2008) Climate change will transform forests that directly sustain nearly one billion people, warns a report to be released next week at the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) meeting in Poznán, Poland.


Climate change will cost California billions

(11/14/2008) $2.5 trillion of real estate assets in California are at risk from extreme weather events, sea level rise and wildfires expected to result from climate change over the course of a century, according to a new assessment from UC Berkeley researchers.


Kangaroos at risk from climate change

(10/16/2008) A 2°C-rise in temperature could trigger significant range contraction for kangaroos in Australia and put one species at high risk of extinction, reports research published in the December issue of Physiological and Biochemical Zoology.


Obama talks science: ocean health, water scarcity, climate change, and more

(09/05/2008) Presidential nominee Barack Obama recently answered fourteen science-related questions for the organization Science Debate 2008. The questions covered a wide-variety of topics, including the importance of innovation, science and math education, energy policies, national security and biosecurity, genetics research, stem cells, space exploration, health, support for research and restoring scientific integrity in the Whitehouse. Below are brief descriptions of his answers on three topics: climate change, water scarcity, and the health of marine ecosystems. Republican presidential nominee John McCain has also been sent the same fourteen questions, so far he has not responded.


Climate change may increase global conflict

(08/25/2008) The signs of a warming world are everywhere: birds are migrating with changing temperatures; coral reefs are dying out due to bleaching; warmer winters are allowing beetles to devour Canadian forests; and the Northwest Passage has opened for the second year in a row. While scientists work to understand how climate change is affecting the worldÕs ecosystems, others are attempting to predict how societies may respond. Jurgen Scheffran, a scientist with the Program in Arms Control, Disarmament and International Security at the University of Illinois, believes a warmer world will lead to an increase in armed conflicts. He concludes that societies stressed by increased competition for natural resources are more likely to engage in warfare.


There is enough water for everyone provided it is well-managed and distributed

(08/21/2008) An increasingly-popular view of our future is an exponentially thirsty world where billions lack access to fresh water, leading to widespread famine and wars over water instead of oil. If this sounds like science fiction, the UN has predicted that by 2050 seven billion people will suffer from water scarcity. Putting that number in perspective: today's entire global population is not yet seven billion people.


Markets could save rainforests: an interview with Andrew Mitchell

(08/17/2008) Markets may soon value rainforests as living entities rather than for just the commodities produced when they are cut down, said a tropical forest researcher speaking in June at a conservation biology conference in the South American country of Suriname. Andrew Mitchell, founder and director of the London-based Global Canopy Program (GCP), said he is encouraged by signs that investors are beginning to look at the value of services afforded by healthy forests.


Long-term memory may help elephants adapt to climate change

(08/11/2008) Long-term memory may be key to helping elephants survive future challenges, including climate change, reports a new study published in The Royal Society's Biology Letters.


NASA study shows global warming will diminish rainfall in East Africa, worsening hunger

(08/06/2008) A new NASA-backed study has found a link between a warming Indian Ocean and reduced rainfall in eastern and southern Africa. The results suggest that rising sea temperatures could exacerbate food problems in some of the continent's most famine-prone regions.


Forests cover 1/3 of U.S. but are responsible for 2/3 of its water supply

(07/16/2008) The single most important function of U.S. forests is their role in securing the country's freshwater supply at a time when water demand is surging but climate risks to forests are also increasing, say the authors of a new federal report released by the National Research Council.


Geology, climate links make Guiana Shield region particularly sensitive to change

(06/14/2008) Soil and climate patterns in the Guiana Shield make the region particularly sensitive to environmental change, said a scientist speaking at a biology conference in Paramaribo, Suriname.


Dried-up Colorado takes toll on giant Mexican fish

(06/08/2008) The Colorado River vanishes before it reaches the Sea of Cortez in all but the wettest years. Companies in California and the southwestern U.S. have diverted its once-vibrant flow to quench their thirst for water and power. Now, a new study in the April 2008 issue of the journal Biological conservation reports that the dwindling of this major artery has changed the way some marine fish in the Gulf of California grow and develop.


Climate change will cause significant disruptions to U.S. agriculture says Fed study

(05/28/2008) Human-induced climate change will cause significant disruptions to water supplies, agriculture, and forestry in the United States in coming decades, says a federal report released Tuesday.


Why is there soot on the snowpack?

(05/22/2008) This fall, suitcase-sized air samplers will sprout throughout the Sierra Nevada. The air monitoring stations will be installed by researchers at the University of California, Davis, as part of a contract approved by the California Energy Commission (CEC) during its May 7 meeting. The researchers hope to learn whether the pollutants affecting the state's climate are coming from local sources or from transPacific sources like Asia, said Public Interest Energy Research (PIER) manager Guido Franco. The sensitive new devices will measure the amount of air pollution in the area and identify the makeup of the particles, Franco told the commission. Chemical detective work will then reveal their sources.


75% of world population to face water shortages by 2050

(04/02/2008) By 2025 more than half of countries will face freshwater stress or shortages and by 2050 as much as 75 percent of the world's population could face freshwater scarcity, but policy measures and new technologies could help reduce the shortfall, report researchers writing in the journal Nature.


Half the Amazon rainforest will be lost within 20 years

(02/27/2008) More than half the Amazon rainforest will be damaged or destroyed within 20 years if deforestation, forest fires, and climate trends continue apace, warns a study published in Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B. Reviewing recent trends in economic, ecological and climatic processes in Amazonia, Daniel Nepstad and colleagues forecast that 55 percent of Amazon forests will be "cleared, logged, damaged by drought, or burned" in the next 20 years. The damage will release 15-26 billion tons of carbon into the atmosphere, adding to a feedback cycle that will worsen both warming and forest degradation in the region. While the projections are bleak, the authors are hopeful that emerging trends could reduce the likelihood of a near-term die-back. These include the growing concern in commodity markets on the environmental performance of ranchers and farmers; greater investment in fire control mechanisms among owners of fire-sensitive investments; emergence of a carbon market for forest-based offsets; and the establishment of protected areas in regions where development is fast-expanding.


Greenhouse gas emissions have already caused the Amazon to dry

(02/27/2008) Anthropogenic emissions of greenhouse gases have already caused the Amazon to dry, finds a new study published in Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B.


Small fires a big threat to Amazon rainforest biodiversity

(02/27/2008) Small fires have a big impact in the Amazon rainforest, report researchers writing in Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B. The findings suggest a dire future for Earth's largest rainforest.


Amazon rainfall linked to Atlantic Ocean temperature

(02/25/2008) Climate models increasingly forecast a dire future for the Amazon rainforest. These projections are partly based on recent research that has linked drought in the Amazon to sea surface temperatures in the tropical Atlantic. As the tropical Atlantic warms, the southern Amazon -- the agricultural heartland of Brazil -- may see higher temperatures and less rainfall.


Large-scale Amazon deforestation or drying would have dire global consequences

(02/21/2008) A new study shows that large-scale degradation of the Amazon, either through drying or continued deforestation, would have global consequence, including worsening climate change, causing regional vegetation shifts, and increasing dust in the atmosphere.


Restoring soil carbon can reverse global warming, desertification and biodiversity loss

(02/21/2008) Restoring the ability of soil to store carbon by promoting native grasses and vegetation can help reverse global warming, desertification and biodiversity loss, says an Australian researcher.



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