Category Archives: WEATHER

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New Scientist special about what we do/don't know about Climate change

Climate change: What we do – and don’t – know – New Scientist.

(Image: Maria Stenzel)

There is much we do not understand about Earth’s climate. That is hardly surprising, given the complex interplay of physical, chemical and biological processes that determines what happens on our planet’s surface and in its atmosphere.

Despite this, we can be certain about some things. For a start, the planet is warming, and human activity is largely responsible. But how much is Earth on course to warm by? What will the global and local effects be? How will it affect our lives?Watch movie online A Cure for Wellness (2017)

In these articles, Michael Le Page sifts through the evidence to provide a brief guide to what we currently do – and don’t – know about the planet’s most burning issue.

KNOW

Greenhouse gases are warming the planet

From melting glaciers and earlier springs to advancing treelines and changing animal ranges, many lines of evidence back up what thermometers tell us
Read more

DON’T KNOW

How high greenhouse gas levels will rise

We can’t say how much Earth will warm over the coming years unless we know how much more greenhouse gas will end up in the atmosphere
Read more

KNOW

Other pollutants are cooling the planet

We pump all kinds of substances into the atmosphere. Some of them reflect the sun’s heat back into space and so cool things down
Read more

DON’T KNOW

How great our cooling effects are

Pollutants that form minute droplets in the atmosphere have horrendously complex effects – so it’s far from certain what they mean for global warming
Read more

KNOW

The planet is going to get a lot hotter

Extra carbon dioxide means a warmer world – and then positive feedback effects from things like water vapour and ice loss will make it warmer still
Read more

DON’T KNOW

Just how much hotter things will get

On current trends the temperature rise could exceed 4 °C as early as the 2060s. But even that could be an underestimate
Read more

DON’T KNOW

How things will change in each region

Which regions are going to turn into tropical paradises? Which into unbearably humid hellholes? It would be useful to know. Unfortunately, we don’t
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KNOW

Sea level is going to rise many metres

Studies of past climate indicate each 1 °C rise in the global mean temperature eventually leads to a 20-metre rise in sea level
Read more

DON’T KNOW

How quickly sea level will rise

Do we have time to get temperatures back down before seas rise by more than a few metres? We have little clue how much room we have for manoeuvre
Read more

DON’T KNOW

How serious the threat to life is

The problem for the plants, animals and people living today is that they and we have adapted to the unusually stable climate of the past few thousand years
Read more

KNOW

There will be more floods and droughts

Warm air holds more moisture. This means more rain or snow overall, and more intense rain or snowfall on average
Read more

DON’T KNOW

Will there be more hurricanes and the like?

A wetter atmosphere will provide more of the fuel that powers extreme events like hurricanes, but it is not clear how often this fuel will be ignited
Read more

DON’T KNOW

If and when tipping points will come

The Amazon could become grassland. Massive amounts of methane could be released from undersea hydrates. And we may not realise in time to do anything about it
Read more

Warming could exceed safe levels in this lifetime

NewsDaily: Warming could exceed safe levels in this lifetime.

By Nina ChestneyPosted 2011/10/23 at 1:03 pm EDT

LONDON, Oct. 23, 2011 (Reuters) — Global temperature rise could exceed “safe” levels of two degrees Celsius in some parts of the world in many of our lifetimes if greenhouse gas emissions continue to increase, two research papers published in the journal Nature warned.

A general view shows the Iztaccihuatl volcano in the city of Puebla, 100 km (62 miles) east of Mexico City, in this April 24, 2010 file photo. REUTERS/Stringer/Instituto de Geofisica Universidad Nacional Autonoma de Mexico/Files

“Certain levels of climate change are very likely within the lifetimes of many people living now … unless emissions of greenhouse gases are substantially reduced in the coming decades,” said a study on Sunday by academics at the English universities of Reading and Oxford, the UK’s Met Office Hadley Center and the Victoria University of Wellington, New Zealand.

“Large parts of Eurasia, North Africa and Canada could potentially experience individual five-year average temperatures that exceed the 2 degree Celsius threshold by 2030 — a timescale that is not so distant,” the paper said.

Two years ago, industrialized nations set a 2 degree Celsius warming as the maximum limit to avoid dangerous climate changes including more floods, droughts and rising seas, while some experts said a 1.5 degree limit would be safer.

It is widely agreed among scientists that global pledges so far for curbing greenhouse gas emissions are not strong enough to prevent “dangerous” climate change.

Next month, nations will meet for the next U.N. climate summit in Durban, South Africa, where a binding pact to reduce emissions looks unlikely to be delivered.

Instead, a global deal might not emerge until 2014 or 2015.

The study found that most of the world’s land surface is very likely to experience five-year average temperatures that exceed 2 degrees above pre-industrial levels by 2060.

If emissions are substantially lowered, the two degree threshold might be delayed by up to several decades, it added.

However, even if global temperature rises are kept under two degrees by aggressive emissions cuts, some regions will still not avoid warming and the likelihood of extreme events such as heatwaves is still high in even a marginally warmer world.

A separate study by academics at Zurich’s Institute for Atmospheric and Climate Science, the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research and the UK’s Met Office Hadley Center, among others, said it would be challenging to limit temperature rises to two degrees.

To achieve a greater than 66 percent chance of limiting temperature rise, global emissions will probably need to peak before 2020 and fall to about 44 gigatonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent by 2020.

“Without a firm commitment to put in place the mechanisms to enable an early global emissions peak followed by steep reductions thereafter, there are significant risks that the 2 degree target, endorsed by so many nations, is already slipping out of reach,” the study said.

Crop scientists now fret about heat not just water

NewsDaily: Crop scientists now fret about heat not just water.

By Christine StebbinsPosted 2011/10/24 at 10:49 am EDT

CHICAGO, Oct. 24, 2011 (Reuters) — Crop scientists in the United States, the world’s largest food exporter, are pondering an odd question: could the danger of global warming really be the heat?

Haze from forest fires engulfs La Paz city, August 23, 2010. REUTERS/David Mercado

For years, as scientists have assembled data on climate change and pointed with concern at melting glaciers and other visible changes in the life-giving water cycle, the impact on seasonal rains and irrigation has worried crop watchers most.

What would breadbaskets like the U.S. Midwest, the Central Asian steppes, the north China Plain or Argentine and Brazilian crop lands be like without normal rains or water tables?

Those were seen as longer-term issues of climate change.

But scientists now wonder if a more immediate issue is an unusual rise in day-time and, especially, night-time summer temperatures being seen in crop belts around the world.

Interviews with crop researchers at American universities paint the same picture: high temperatures have already shrunken output of many crops and vegetables.

“We don’t grow tomatoes in the deep South in the summer. Pollination fails,” said Ken Boote, a crop scientist with the University of Florida.

The same goes for snap beans which can no longer be grown in Florida during the summer, he added.

“As temperatures rise we are going to have trouble maintaining the yields of crops that we already have,” said Gerald Nelson, an economist with the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) who is leading a global project initially funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation to identify new crop varieties adapted to climate change.

“When I go around the world, people are much less skeptical, much more concerned about climate change,” said David Lobell, a Stanford University agricultural scientist.

Lobell was one of three authors of a much-discussed 2011 climate study of world corn, wheat, soybean and rice yields over the last three decades (1980-2008). It concluded that heat, not rainfall, was affecting yields the most.

“The magnitude of recent temperature trends is larger than those for precipitation in most situations,” the study said.

“We took a pretty conservative approach and still found sizable impacts. They certainly are happening already and not just something that will or might happen in the future,” Lobell told Reuters in an interview.

CONCERNS GROWING

Scientists at an annual meeting of U.S. agronomists last week in San Antonio said the focus was climate change.

“Its impact on agriculture systems, impacts on crops, mitigation strategies with soil management — a whole range of questions was being asked about climate change,” said Jerry Hatfield, Laboratory Director at the National Soil Tilth Laboratory in Ames, Iowa.

“The biggest thing is high night-time temperatures have a negative impact on yield,” Hatfield added, noting that the heat affects evaporation and the life process of the crops.

“One of the consequences of rising temperatures … is to compress the life cycle of that plant. The other key consequence is that when the atmosphere gets warmer the atmospheric demand for water increases,” Hatfield said.

“These are simple things that can occur and have tremendous consequences on our ability to produce a stable supply of food or feed or fiber,” he said.

Boote at the University of Florida found that rice and sorghum plants failed to produce grain, something he calls “pollen viability,” when the average 24-hour temperature is 95 degrees Fahrenheit (35 Celsius). That equates to highs of 104 F during the day and 86 F at night, he said.

The global seed industry has set a high bar to boost crop yields by 2050 to feed a hungry world. Scientists said that the impact of heat on plant growth needs more focus and study.

“If you look at a lot of crop insurance claims, farmers say it is the lack of water that caused the plant to die,” said Wolfram Schlenker, assistant professor at Columbia University.

“But I think it’s basically different sides of the same coin because the water requirement of the plant increases tremendously if it’s hot,” he said.

“The private sector understands the threats coming from climate change and have significant research programs in regards to drought tolerance. They focus less on higher temperatures, but that’s a tougher challenge,” Nelson said.

“We are responding with a number of initatives…the primary one is focusing on drought tolerance,” said John Soper, vice president in charge of global seed development for DuPont’s Pioneer Hi-Bred, a top U.S. seed producer.

Pioneer launched a conventionally bred drought-tolerant corn hybrid seed in the western U.S. Corn Belt this spring, selected for its yield advantage over other varieties.

“We have some early results in from Texas that show that is exactly how they are behaving. They currently have a 6 percent advantage over normal products in those drought zones,” Soper said.

Roy Steiner, deputy director for agricultural development for the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, said the foundation is focused on current agricultural effects of climate change.

“It’s amazing that there are still people who think that it’s not changing. Everywhere we go we’re seeing greater variability, the rains are changing and the timing of the rains is creating a lot more vulnerability,” Steiner said.

“Agriculture is one of those things that needs long-term planning, and we are very short-cycled thinking,” he said. “There are going to be some real shocks to the system. Climate is the biggest challenge. Demand is not going away.”

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Country : United States of America.
Production Company : Universal Pictures, Blumhouse Productions, Blinding Edge Pictures.
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Runtime : 117 min.
Genre : Horror, Thriller.

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Scientists Start Effort to Determine What Weather Events Result from Climate Change

Heavy weather : Nature : Nature Publishing Group.

Nature
477,
131–132
(08 September 2011)
doi:10.1038/477131b
Published online
07 September 2011

Severe storms make the public think of climate change. Scientists must work to evaluate the link.

Extreme weather makes news, as was demonstrated last month by the blanket coverage of the devastation caused to the east coast of the United States by Hurricane Irene. But was the prominence of the story a feature of modern media hype in a rolling-news world? Hardly. According to a New York Times analysis, when Hurricane Andrew made landfall in Florida in 1992 and killed 22 people, it received twice the traditional news coverage that Irene did.

What is new is that coverage of extreme weather is now often accompanied by a question: is this a consequence of climate change? This question was raised frequently after Hurricane Katrina smashed through New Orleans in 2005. Most climate scientists responded equivocally, as scientists do: climate is not weather, and although all extreme weather events are now subject to human influence, global warming driven by greenhouse gases cannot be said to ’cause’ any specific manifestation of weather in a simple deterministic sense.

“Most people associate the climate with the weather that they experience, even if they aren’t supposed to.”

Is that response enough? The question, after all, seems fair, given the dire warnings of worsening weather that are offered to the public as reasons to care about global warming. It may irritate some scientists, but in fact the question can be seen as a vindication of their efforts to spread the message that the climate problem is a clear and present danger. Most people associate the climate with the weather that they experience, even if they aren’t supposed to. And they are right to wonder how and why that experience can, on occasion, leave their homes in pieces.

Given the growing interest, it is a good sign that scientists plan to launch a coordinated effort to quickly and routinely assess the extent to which extreme weather events should be attributed to climate change (see page 148). The ambitious idea is in the early stages, and its feasibility is yet to be demonstrated. It will require funding, access to climate data from around the world and considerable computer time. Funding agencies and climate centres must provide the necessary support.

As operational climate-attribution systems develop, it is important that they do not remain purely an academic exercise. To reach out to the public, attribution scientists could do worse than to ally themselves with meteorologists — including commercial providers of weather forecasts — to explain how climate change affects the risk of extreme weather. There is, after all, a lot of scope for the makers and presenters of daily weather reports to inform their listeners and viewers more solidly about consequences of climate change than they have chosen to do in the past.

Climate scientists, too, have an obligation to provide more coherent answers to queries (or doubts) as to how global warming influences our weather. An attribution system with ample resources, running in near real time, could prevent scientists’ answers to those questions seeming either too cautious or too alarmist and speculative. It could also prevent the public from getting the (false) impression that climate research is confined to the virtual world of climate models and has little to offer when it comes to current reality, or that climate science is a quasi-experimental field that yields scary but mostly unverifiable results. The service’s broad integration into people’s daily lives, through the old and new mass media, would be a good way to seed greater acceptance of climate scientists’ actual services to society and the problem of climate change.

There are constraints here. Attribution is only as good as the models and statistics that power it — and the various existing climate models project different trends in future extremes in some regions. There is a lack, or poor availability, of long-term observational records, and of climate data with high spatial and temporal resolution. And however it develops, climate attribution will remain rooted in probabilities. Not even the most thorough study can work out with absolute confidence the exact fingerprint of global warming in a given weather event.

What about Irene, then? A concerted attribution effort should help to resolve, in the not-so-distant future, the ongoing controversy over the effect of climate change on hurricane formation. Whatever the result, if the exercise can prevent people from building houses along the most vulnerable coastlines, it will be worth the effort.

Forensic Meteorology Becomes New Growth Industry as Weather-Related Damage Intensifies

CSI: Mother Nature–Forensic Meteorology a New Growth Industry as Weather-Related Damage Intensifies: Scientific American.

WEATHER-DAMAGE LIABILITY?: Trees can be helpful to forensic meteorologists in solving cases. Image: Keegan Mullaney/Flickr

As Irene battered the East Coast two weeks ago, Frank Lombardo knew that only after the rain and wind stopped and the floods receded, would his work begin.

That’s because as a forensic meteorologist, Lombardo is often called on to consult on legal and insurance cases resulting from violent storms. His job, and that of any forensic meteorologist, is to reconstruct the weather conditions that occurred at a specific time and location in question by retrieving and analyzing archived atmospheric data and re-creating a time line of meteorological events.

“As soon as something happens…whether there’s a catastrophic event or a minor localized event, forensic meteorologists understand things will quiet down, but in a few years from now, it will get into the courts,” says Lombardo, president of WeatherWorks, Inc. The Hackettstown, N.J.–based company provides meteorological expertise to public and private sector organizations, including the media.

Described as a combination of science, art and interpretation, forensic meteorology mirrors the work that detectives do to solve crimes. Cases may involve whether lightning sparked a fire or, if someone slips and falls, whether ice on a property was to blame. Data comes from various sources, including observations, weather stations at airports, Doppler radar and satellite imagery, National Weather Service bulletins, and even tidal gages. Forensic meteorologists may also take their own measurements, such as wind velocity. Cases are mainly site-specific, and much of the problem-solving involves knowing what synoptic, or generalized, data is needed to reconstruct the micrometeorology at a particular location.

“A lot of what we depend on is experience, but we need tools of the industry, such as Doppler radar and good observations” to solve mysteries related to weather, Lombardo says.

He recounts one of his cases in which a crane collapsed near a building, injuring the operator. It was a blustery day, and the wind threshold of the crane ranged from approximately 48 to 56 kilometers per hour, according to the manufacturer. Hired by the operator, his charge was to determine how the localized weather influenced the crane’s fall. Lombardo visited the site on a day that had similar conditions as when the accident occurred, and on noticing that the crane was positioned near a nine-meter wall, wondered if that had influenced the site’s wind velocity. He measured the wind speed using an anemometer, noting that the wind intersected the wall at a 70 to 80 degree angle. By calculating simple vectors, he discovered that the wind speed near the crane was around 29 to 48 kilometers per hour, right at the edge of what the crane could withstand. “I secured information that supported the case that the [worker] shouldn’t have been operating the crane,” Lombardo says. “It wasn’t his fault. It was a function of the wind converging on the wall, which increased the wind pressure on the crane, causing it to collapse.”

Sometimes, data that is needed to decipher how atmospheric conditions affected a particular location and case is not available. Stephen Wistar, a forensic meteorologist with AccuWeather, consulted on hundreds of cases relating to Hurricane Katrina. Most of his investigations centered on insurance claims about whether wind or storm surge caused property damage. He lacked access to much of the typical data he would have used in similar circumstances because many of the standard tools, such as weather stations and tidal gages, failed when the storm hit. Instead, he utilized a massive computer model called “ADvanced CIRCulation” (ADCIRC), which predicts tidal and storm surge elevations and velocities over large areas. Combined with information he retrieved from Doppler radar sites outside of New Orleans, and on-site investigations he conducted himself, he was able to reconstruct time lines of property damage and state which hit property first—the wind or the water.

In his Katrina inquiries, Wistar also discovered that “trees were very helpful” in solving cases. In areas of Mobile, Ala., where complete neighborhoods were torn apart, he often examined tree damage for clues about what caused property destruction. He knew the direction of the wind at various points in the storm, both before and after the storm surge, and therefore could determine which direction trees would have fallen at those same points. By noting fallen tree locations and directions, he determined time lines for property devastation, even when there were no structures left standing.

“Part of our job is to filter the data and understand what makes and doesn’t make sense,” Wistar says. But above all, “my job is to tell the truth.”

With the climate changing, forensic meteorologists’ work will not diminish. “‘Extreme’ will become the new normal,” Lombardo says. “Our most difficult tasks as forensic meteorologists are dealing with these extreme events, and how the forensic meteorology, insurance and legal industries are going to react.” New definitions of what is “extreme” will affect potential claims against municipalities, Wistar adds.

Another concern is the uptick in weather and related events occurring on a planet-wide basis, such as El Niño and La Niña. Generally, forensic meteorologists’ examinations are limited to a specific site. “If climate change continues to occur, however, and we see more worldwide events in increasing frequency, will that change how we look at local events? It may,” ponders Lombardo. He cites a global weather phenomenon, called atmospheric blocking, as an example of a planet-wide occurrence that is has already affected his forensic micrometeorology endeavors. Atmospheric blocking obstructs winds that come across the Pacific and forces them north into Alaska, Siberia and the North Pole. The winds then head south, “creating a pool of cold Arctic air that moves into the United States, providing a source for ice storms to develop,” he says. In the past two years, up and down the eastern seaboard, atmospheric blocking has directly led to snowfall in areas where heavy snow is uncommon, and consequently, “hundreds of slip-and-fall cases” have come across Lombardo’s desk. “[Atmospheric blocking] results in localized storms that produce the conditions that are favorable to generating future forensic work,” he says.

But the future holds other concerns—and opportunities—for forensic meteorologists. As Wistar notes, more people have migrated to regions on the planet “where the weather tends to be more dangerous,” such as the southern U.S. With more people in harm’s way, there will undoubtedly be more legal, insurance and engineering cases in which forensic meteorologists’ expert contributions will be vital.

Floods kill 233, affect 5.5 million in Pakistan

Heavy rains, floods kill 233, affect 5.5 million in Pakistan – CNN.com.

Islamabad, Pakistan (CNN) — Heavy rains and flooding have killed at least 233 people in Pakistan, a disaster agency spokesman said Wednesday, as a weather forecast calls for more rain over deluged parts of the country.

Seven people have died in the past 24 hours, said Irshad Bhatti, a spokesman for the National Disaster Management Authority.

At least 5.5 million people have been affected by the flooding since August, said Zafar Iqbal Qadir, chairman of the disaster authority.

Kristen Elsby, spokeswoman for the United Nations children’s fund, or UNICEF, said 2.7 million children are among the affected. She said half of the 300,000 people in camps are children.

Homes under water in Pakistan
Pakistan braces for heavy rain, flooding
Map: Pakistani floods

The flooding has inundated more than 4.5 million acres and damaged an estimated 80% of crops. At least 1.19 million homes have been damaged, the authority said.

And the rains are not over.

“Scattered thunderstorm/rain with moderate falls at isolated places is expected over most parts of the country,” according to a weather forecast posted on the disaster authority’s website Wednesday.

Bhatti said there was no chance of the floodwaters receding anytime soon. He said the worst affected areas are the Sindh province cities of Badin and Mirpurkhas.

The United States, Iran, Japan and China are among the countries that have provided or pledged aid, the state-run Associated Press of Pakistan reported this week.

The current disaster comes a year after devastating floods displaced more than 20 million people.

More than 1,700 people died due to the floods in 2010, Pakistani authorities said. Those floods caused $9.7 billion in damage to homes, roads, farms and other parts of the southwestern Asian country, according to estimates from the World Bank and Asian Development Bank.

CNN’s Nick Paton Walsh, Nasir Habib and Aliza Kassim and journalist Shaan Khan contributed to this report.

Lasers could be used for rainmaking

Laser beams could be used to create rain – Telegraph.

Firing laser beams into humid air could give scientists control over when and where rain falls, a new study claims.

Laser beams could be used to create rain

The method works by firing laser beams into the air, creating nitric acid particles which draw water molecules together and stop them from evaporating, according to a study in the Nature Communications journal Photo: ALAMY

Researchers from the University of Geneva used lasers to create water droplets in the air, in a development which could eventually lead to man-made weather systems.

Although the technique, known as laser-assisted water condensation, does not work in dry air scientists were able to generate the droplets in very humid conditions over the Rhône river in Switzerland.

The drops created – just thousandths of a millimetre across – were nowhere near heavy enough to fall as rain but the experts hope that by making them hundreds of times larger they will be able to create or prevent rainfall in the right conditions.

The method works by firing laser beams into the air, creating nitric acid particles which draw water molecules together and stop them from evaporating, according to a study in the Nature Communications journal.

If the process is repeated in air currents that are blowing towards mountains, the researchers hope the air will cool enough that the droplets grow large enough to fall as rain.

El Niño Events May Tip Nations to War

El Niño Events May Tip Nations to War – ScienceNOW.

 

 

Tensions between the Peruvian government and the rebel group the Shining Path erupted into bloody clashes in 1982—the same year that an El Niño-Southern Oscillation (ENSO) event scoured potato fields across the hilly nation. Doomsayers might see cause and effect, but scientists have so far struggled to connect widespread violence with global climate phenomena. Now, a new study suggests that civil strife is twice as likely to break out in many nations worldwide during El Niño years.

“More and more of the evidence is pointing toward a strong link between adverse weather or adverse climate and political violence in the world’s poor regions,” says Edward Miguel, an economist at the University of California, Berkeley, who was not involved in this study. “This is an important piece of evidence in that debate.”

In 2009, Miguel and colleagues published a controversial paper in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, arguing that spikes in temperature had played a dramatic role in igniting African civil wars. While some scientists criticized the study’s statistical methods, many questioned its basic claim, says Solomon Hsiang, lead author of the new study, who studies the confluence of political and climate science at Columbia University. The question, Hsiang says, became, “Is it at all possible that global climate can affect conflict?” Scientists, he adds, don’t have the know-how to turn the thermostat up or down on the planet and then sit back to watch how angry people get.

But the planet does flip from hot to cold naturally: every few years as waters in the tropical Pacific cool, during La Niña events, or heat up, during El Niño years. These rapid, periodic shifts in climate, Hsiang and his colleagues realized, might make a good proxy for studying how climate might impact war around the world.

So the team examined 234 clashes each claiming more than 25 lives between governments and rebel groups across the globe from 1950 to 2004. In the tropical nations most affected by ENSO swings, such as Peru, the Sudan, or India, the likelihood of civil violence erupting doubled during El Niño years, from about 3% to 6%, amounting to an extra 48 clashes, the group reports online today in Nature. In nations separated from the steep climatic shifts associated with ENSO events, including the United States, France, and China, the chances of civil strife remained at a steady low of 2%. But just how El Niño events fanned the flames in what were largely the world’s poorest nations is unclear, Hsiang says.

Such a relationship between climate swings and political instability seems, at least anecdotally, to have a long history, says Thomas Homer-Dixon, a nature and society researcher at the University of Waterloo in Canada: “What we’re seeing is a modern-day manifestation of a phenomenon that goes back millennia.” The city of Angkor in modern Cambodia, for instance, known for its web of monsoon-fed irrigation canals, fell to invaders in the mid-15thcentury. A series of droughts began to dry up those famous canals during the same period in history. As Hsiang and colleagues found, those societies most at the whim of climate tended to also be the nations with economies still rooted in agriculture, Homer-Dixon notes.

But Halvard Buhaug, an international relations specialist at the Centre for the Study of Civil War in Oslo and a sharp critic of Miguel’s 2009 study, doesn’t see cause and effect just yet. “I still believe that socioeconomic and political factors are the most important, common drivers of civil wars,” he says. “But the intriguing finding … certainly deserves further scrutiny.” Without knowing how exactly climate swings can lead to violence, if at all, he says, it becomes an uphill battle for humanitarian organizations to direct preventative measures.