Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Link between sunspots, rain helps predict disease in east Africa

09.08.2007
The research, conducted by paleoclimatologist Curt Stager of Paul Smith's College in Paul Smiths, N.Y. and colleagues, can be used by public health officials to increase measures against insect-borne diseases long before epidemics begin. The results are published online in the August 7 issue of the Journal of Geophysical Research.

The scientists showed that unusually heavy rainfalls in East Africa over the past century preceded peak sunspot activity by about one year.

"The hope is that people on the ground will use this research to predict heavy rainfall events," Stager said. "Those events lead to erosion, flooding and disease. With the help of these findings, we can now say when especially rainy seasons are likely to occur, several years in advance."

"These results are an important step in applying paleoclimate analyses to predicting future environmental conditions and their impacts on society," said Dave Verardo, director of the National Science Foundation's paleoclimate program, which funded the research. "It's especially important in a region [East Africa] perennially on the knife-edge of sustainability."

Sunspots indicate an increase in the sun's energy output, and peak on an 11-year cycle. The next peak is expected in 2011-12. If the pattern holds, rainfall would peak the year before.

Because mosquitoes and other disease-carrying insects thrive in wet conditions, heavy rains may herald outbreaks of diseases such as Rift Valley Fever.

The research relied on rainfall data going back a century. Historical records of water levels at lakes Victoria, Tanganyika, and Naivasha also demonstrated the link.

Stager demonstrated that while the link between sunspots and rainfall seemed to grow weaker from 1927 to 1968, the cyclic pattern held true throughout the 20th Century. Previous statistical analysis discounted the link for a variety of reasons, including the influence of climatic disturbances not associated with sunspots.

The researchers, who represent five institutions from the United States and Great Britain, offered several reasons why sunspot peaks may affect rainfall. The increased solar energy associated with sunspots, they suggest, heats both land and sea, forcing moist air to rise and triggering precipitation. It may also induce El Niño events, which increase rainfall in East Africa.

While sunspot peaks augur extraordinarily wet rainy seasons, heavy rains are possible at other times as well, Stager acknowledged. But most of the rainiest times, he said, are consistently coupled with the predictable rhythms of sunspot peaks.

"When you think of climate troubles in Africa, it's usually about drought," Stager said. "You don't often think of the opposite situation.

"Too much rain can create just as many problems."

Cheryl Dybas | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.nsf.gov

More articles from Ecology, The Environment and Conservation:

nachricht Safeguarding sustainability through forest certification mapping
27.06.2017 | International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA)

nachricht Dune ecosystem modelling
26.06.2017 | Albert-Ludwigs-Universität Freiburg im Breisgau

All articles from Ecology, The Environment and Conservation >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: Manipulating Electron Spins Without Loss of Information

Physicists have developed a new technique that uses electrical voltages to control the electron spin on a chip. The newly-developed method provides protection from spin decay, meaning that the contained information can be maintained and transmitted over comparatively large distances, as has been demonstrated by a team from the University of Basel’s Department of Physics and the Swiss Nanoscience Institute. The results have been published in Physical Review X.

For several years, researchers have been trying to use the spin of an electron to store and transmit information. The spin of each electron is always coupled...

Im Focus: The proton precisely weighted

What is the mass of a proton? Scientists from Germany and Japan successfully did an important step towards the most exact knowledge of this fundamental constant. By means of precision measurements on a single proton, they could improve the precision by a factor of three and also correct the existing value.

To determine the mass of a single proton still more accurate – a group of physicists led by Klaus Blaum and Sven Sturm of the Max Planck Institute for Nuclear...

Im Focus: On the way to a biological alternative

A bacterial enzyme enables reactions that open up alternatives to key industrial chemical processes

The research team of Prof. Dr. Oliver Einsle at the University of Freiburg's Institute of Biochemistry has long been exploring the functioning of nitrogenase....

Im Focus: The 1 trillion tonne iceberg

Larsen C Ice Shelf rift finally breaks through

A one trillion tonne iceberg - one of the biggest ever recorded -- has calved away from the Larsen C Ice Shelf in Antarctica, after a rift in the ice,...

Im Focus: Laser-cooled ions contribute to better understanding of friction

Physics supports biology: Researchers from PTB have developed a model system to investigate friction phenomena with atomic precision

Friction: what you want from car brakes, otherwise rather a nuisance. In any case, it is useful to know as precisely as possible how friction phenomena arise –...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Closing the Sustainability Circle: Protection of Food with Biobased Materials

21.07.2017 | Event News

»We are bringing Additive Manufacturing to SMEs«

19.07.2017 | Event News

The technology with a feel for feelings

12.07.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

NASA looks to solar eclipse to help understand Earth's energy system

21.07.2017 | Earth Sciences

Stanford researchers develop a new type of soft, growing robot

21.07.2017 | Power and Electrical Engineering

Vortex photons from electrons in circular motion

21.07.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>