Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:


Poor Spring Rain Projected in Africa

Spring rains in the eastern Horn of Africa are projected to begin late this year and be substantially lower than normal.
From March–May, the rains are expected to total only 60 to 85 percentage of the average rainfall in this region. This is a significant deterioration compared to earlier forecasts.

Lower rain amounts would have significant impacts on crop production, rangeland regeneration for livestock, and replenishment of water resources.

This would put greater stress on the region, particularly Somalia which is still recovering from a famine declared last year, as well as Kenya and Ethiopia which also experienced a severe food crisis. An increase in food insecurity and in the size of the food insecure population is likely.

The State Department released a statement on this forecast and their intent to provide additional funding to aid refuges and drought-affected communities.

Famine Early Warning Systems Network

The rainfall projections were completed by the Famine Early Warning Systems Network (FEWS NET), which helps target more than $1.5 billion of assistance to more than 40 countries each year. FEWS NET monitors high risk areas of the developing world with the most food insecurity, identifying critical situations in which food aid will be needed.

FEWS NET is sponsored and led by the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) Office of Food for Peace. Implementing partners include the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS), Chemonics International, Inc., National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), and the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA).

USGS Science

A herder moves cattle through a barren landscape in eastern Africa.
The USGS led the climate analysis for the recent FEWS NET rainfall projection.

“Rainfall projections were estimated by looking very closely at all the prior droughts from March–May since 1979 in the eastern Horn of Africa,” said USGS scientist Chris Funk, who led this research. “We found that sea surface temperatures in the western/central Pacific and the Indian oceans are key drivers of rainfall during that time period. So we compared sea surface temperatures from past years to March 2012, and developed an updated rainfall forecast for this spring season.”

Climate modeling analysis was done in collaboration with others, including Greg Husak and Joel Michaelsen with the Climate Hazards Group at the University of California, Santa Barbara, as well as Bradfield Lyon at The International Research Institute for Climate and Society. Lyon’s research identified the important role of the Pacific Ocean in recent droughts.

The USGS also contributes satellite remote sensing data and analysis of vegetation and rainfall to support FEWS NET activities throughout the world. Remote sensing from space allows scientists to provide rapid, accurate assessments of a broad range of environmental and agricultural conditions. A newly completed vegetation monitoring system allows FEWS NET analysts to track conditions across all of Africa in tremendous detail.

“The concerning picture that emerged from FEWS NET climate monitoring services was that despite the good rains of the past winter, the situation east Africa has deteriorated very rapidly, to a point that the water deficits and vegetation health looked as bad as this time last year,” said Funk.

Link between Sea Surface Temperatures and Rainfall

As the globe has warmed over the last century, the Indian and central/western Pacific oceans have warmed particularly fast. USGS scientists found that the warming of these oceans affects rainfall over large areas of the Horn of Africa.

The resulting warmer air and increased humidity over the Indian and Pacific oceans produce more frequent rainfall over the oceans. The air then rises over the equatorial Indian and Pacific oceans, and flows westward, descending over Africa. Since the air has already lost moisture from rainfall over the oceans, this leads to decreased rain amounts in parts of eastern Africa. Trends toward increased frequency of drought that we are seeing now appear likely to continue into the future as warming continues.

“Essentially, our research has progressed to the point where we can recognize fairly well the climate patterns linked to the recent droughts, and we hope this helps identify potential bad seasons in advance to raise awareness,” said Funk.

Jessica Robertson | EurekAlert!
Further information:

More articles from Earth Sciences:

nachricht Enormous dome in central Andes driven by huge magma body beneath it
25.10.2016 | University of California - Santa Cruz

nachricht Deep down fracking wells, microbial communities thrive
25.10.2016 | DOE/Pacific Northwest National Laboratory

All articles from Earth Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Light-driven atomic rotations excite magnetic waves

Terahertz excitation of selected crystal vibrations leads to an effective magnetic field that drives coherent spin motion

Controlling functional properties by light is one of the grand goals in modern condensed matter physics and materials science. A new study now demonstrates how...

Im Focus: New 3-D wiring technique brings scalable quantum computers closer to reality

Researchers from the Institute for Quantum Computing (IQC) at the University of Waterloo led the development of a new extensible wiring technique capable of controlling superconducting quantum bits, representing a significant step towards to the realization of a scalable quantum computer.

"The quantum socket is a wiring method that uses three-dimensional wires based on spring-loaded pins to address individual qubits," said Jeremy Béjanin, a PhD...

Im Focus: Scientists develop a semiconductor nanocomposite material that moves in response to light

In a paper in Scientific Reports, a research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute describes a novel light-activated phenomenon that could become the basis for applications as diverse as microscopic robotic grippers and more efficient solar cells.

A research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) has developed a revolutionary, light-activated semiconductor nanocomposite material that can be used...

Im Focus: Diamonds aren't forever: Sandia, Harvard team create first quantum computer bridge

By forcefully embedding two silicon atoms in a diamond matrix, Sandia researchers have demonstrated for the first time on a single chip all the components needed to create a quantum bridge to link quantum computers together.

"People have already built small quantum computers," says Sandia researcher Ryan Camacho. "Maybe the first useful one won't be a single giant quantum computer...

Im Focus: New Products - Highlights of COMPAMED 2016

COMPAMED has become the leading international marketplace for suppliers of medical manufacturing. The trade fair, which takes place every November and is co-located to MEDICA in Dusseldorf, has been steadily growing over the past years and shows that medical technology remains a rapidly growing market.

In 2016, the joint pavilion by the IVAM Microtechnology Network, the Product Market “High-tech for Medical Devices”, will be located in Hall 8a again and will...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>



Event News

#IC2S2: When Social Science meets Computer Science - GESIS will host the IC2S2 conference 2017

14.10.2016 | Event News

Agricultural Trade Developments and Potentials in Central Asia and the South Caucasus

14.10.2016 | Event News

World Health Summit – Day Three: A Call to Action

12.10.2016 | Event News

Latest News

Enormous dome in central Andes driven by huge magma body beneath it

25.10.2016 | Earth Sciences

First time-lapse footage of cell activity during limb regeneration

25.10.2016 | Life Sciences

Deep down fracking wells, microbial communities thrive

25.10.2016 | Earth Sciences

More VideoLinks >>>