The Global Precipitation Measurement (GPM) is an international satellite mission to provide next-generation observations of rain and snow worldwide every three hours. NASA and the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) will launch a “Core” satellite carrying advanced instruments that will set a new standard for precipitation measurements from space. The data they provide will be used to unify precipitation measurements made by an international network of partner satellites to quantify when, where, and how much it rains or snows around the world.
The GPM mission will help advance our understanding of Earth’s water and energy cycles, improve the forecasting of extreme events that cause natural disasters, and extend current capabilities of using satellite precipitation information to directly benefit society.
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Extreme events caused by warming are happening much sooner than we thought they would. It’s time for Obama to act
“WE WANT our children to live in an America… that isn’t threatened by the destructive power of a warming planet.” With these words in his re-election speech, President Obama finally put climate change back onto the US political agenda.
That was welcome after a campaign in which both sides ducked the issue. But Obama still didn’t say quite the right thing. It’s not just our children we should be worrying about. As yet, we can’t say how much of the devastation caused by superstorm Sandy was attributable to climate change. It’s nonetheless suggestive of the extreme events that a changing climate will visit on us - much sooner than we had anticipated (see “Climate change: It’s even worse than we thought”).
Obama can perhaps be forgiven for casting climate change as a future challenge. The scientists who drew up the last major report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change in 2007 may have taken that view too. But it is now becoming clear that the report underestimated how quickly the planet would respond to warming and how serious the effects are likely to be.
If you want a glimpse of some of the worst of global warming, scientists suggest taking a look at U.S. weather in recent weeks.
Horrendous wildfires. Oppressive heat waves. Devastating droughts. Flooding from giant deluges. And a powerful freak wind storm called a derecho.
These are the kinds of extremes climate scientists have predicted will come with climate change, although it’s far too early to say that is the cause. Nor will they say global warming is the reason 3,215 daily high temperature records were set in the month of June.
Scientifically linking individual weather events to climate change takes intensive study, complicated mathematics, computer models and lots of time. Sometimes it isn’t caused by global warming. Weather is always variable; freak things happen.
And this weather has been local. Europe, Asia and Africa aren’t having similar disasters now, although they’ve had their own extreme events in recent years.
But since at least 1988, climate scientists have warned that climate change would bring, in general, increased heat waves, more droughts, more sudden downpours, more widespread wildfires and worsening storms. In the United States, those extremes are happening here and now.
With the publication this month of “Eat and Run: My Unlikely Journey to Ultramarathon Greatness,” by the vegan distance runner Scott Jurek, vegan diets have become a wildly popular topic on running-related Web sites. But is going totally meatless and, as in Mr. Jurek’s case, dairy-free advisable for other serious athletes, or for the rest of us who just want to be healthy and fit?
To find out, I talked with three experts about why, and whether, those of us who are active should consider giving up meat or more. None of the experts are themselves vegan, though two are vegetarian: David C. Nieman, a professor of health and exercise science at Appalachian State University, who’s run 58 marathons or ultramarathons and has studied runners at extreme events; and D. Enette Larson-Meyer, an associate professor of human nutrition at the University of Wyoming, as well as a longtime competitive athlete and author of “Vegetarian Sports Nutrition.” A third expert, Nancy Clark, who describes herself as “two-thirds vegetarian” — she doesn’t have meat at breakfast or lunch, but does at dinner — is a sports nutrition expert in Massachusetts and the author of “Nancy Clark’s Food Guide for Marathoners.
The United States was battered this year by at least 12 natural disasters that each caused at least $1 billion in damages, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration said yesterday.
The agency said it was adding a June tornado outbreak in the Midwest and Southeast and record-setting wildfires in Texas, Arizona and New Mexico to a list that also includes flooding along the Missouri and Mississippi rivers, drought in the Southern Plains and southwestern United States, five previous tornado outbreaks in Southern and central states, and a blizzard.
That count could still rise, because NOAA is still tallying damages from Tropical Storm Lee and a late October snowstorm in the Northeast.
But this year was not an aberration, NOAA Administrator Jane Lubchenco said during a speech here yesterday.
The seemingly endless onslaught of floods, droughts, wildfires, windstorms, blizzards and tornadoes that have marked 2011 fit within an ongoing increase in the number of natural disasters recorded in the United States, she said, citing statistics maintained by reinsurer Munich Re.
And at least some of that increase appears to be driven by climate change, Lubchenco said, citing a recent report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.
“What we are seeing this year is not just an anomalous year, but a harbinger of things to come for at least a subset of those extreme events that we are tallying,” the NOAA chief told attendees of the American Geophysical Union’s fall meeting.