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This New Climate – Episode 5: Climate change and the 4th agricultural revolution

This New Climate – Episode 5: Climate change and the 4th agricultural revolution

In the fifth episode of This New Climate, host Will Bugler explores a suite of innovations promoted by EIT Climate-KIC through their Climate Smart Agriculture Booster that are helping farmers to adapt to climate change while shedding light on how European farmers have suffered under recent drought conditions.

Episode guests: Iris Bouwers, farmer and Vice-President of the European Council of Young Farmers, Carlos Dionisio Pérez Blanco from University of Salamanca, Jean-Marc Touzard, Research Director at INRA the French public research institute dedicated to agricultural science, and Roberto Zorer from the Edmund Mach Foundation for Research and Innovation.

This New Climate is an Acclimatise production.

The Climate Smart Agriculture Booster is an EIT Climate-KIC supported innovation initiative.

Further information:

Climate Smart Agriculture Booster

European Council of Young Farmers

University of Salamanca

INRA

Edmund Mach Foundation for Research and Innovation

Acclimatise selected to provide expertise to the EU TEG

Acclimatise selected to provide expertise to the EU TEG

By Robin Hamaker-Taylor

 As highlighted in a recent article, the European Commission is moving forward with their Action Plan for Financing Sustainable Growth. Now, Acclimatise have been selected as part of a group of experts that will advise the Commission’s Technical Expert Group (TEG).

Specifically, Acclimatise will provide technical input to the development of criteria which will help identify economic activities expected to make a substantial contribution to climate change adaptation objectives of the European Union. Co-founders of the company John Firth and Dr Richenda Connell will focus on providing input to the adaptation sub-group working on identifying financial services and insurance sector activities. The sub-group is co-chaired by experts from the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development and German development bank KfW.

Additional sectors that are also included for the development of adaptation-specific criteria are agriculture and forestry, information and communications technology (ICT), professional, scientific and technical activities and water supply, sewerage, waste management and remediation activities. These have been selected as they are among the most vulnerable sectors to the negative effects of climate change, and enable to test the adaptation taxonomy approach in natural resources, asset- and service-based sectors.

This input will contribute to the establishment of the EU classification system, known as the sustainability taxonomy, which will be used in the future to determine whether an economic activity is environmentally sustainable. In addition to establishing the sustainability taxonomy, the European Commission set up the TEG to assist it in developing the following:

  • an EU Green Bond Standard;
  • benchmarks for low-carbon investment strategies; and
  • guidance to improve corporate disclosure of climate-related information, including resilience.

The TEG commenced its work in July 2018. Its 35 members from civil society, academia, business and the finance sector, as well as additional members and observers from EU and international public bodies work both through formal plenaries and sub-group meetings for each work stream. The TEG will operate until June 2019, with a possible extension until year-end 2019. Acclimatise’s input into the adaptation elements of the sustainability taxonomy will carry on throughout spring 2019.

The full list of selected experts can now be found on the European Commission’s website for Sustainable Finance and is accessible via this link.


Cover photo by David Bruyndonckx on Unsplash.
EO data helping Alpine tourism adapt to climate change

EO data helping Alpine tourism adapt to climate change

By Elisa Jiménez Alonso

Temperatures in the Alps have risen almost twice the global average. This trend has profound implications for the whole Alpine environment and the industries that depend on it. One of the most prominent ones is tourism, especially winter tourism. However, with climate change, the Alps are gaining popularity as a warm but not too hot summer destination. The European Earth observation (EO) programme Copernicus aims to support the sector with new tools that can improve the understanding of climate change impacts on tourism.

As climate change alters the patterns of suitable and non-suitable weather conditions, the competitiveness and seasonality of holiday destinations can be heavily affected. Seasonal forecasting and climate projections can therefore play an important role in strategic business planning. The Copernicus Climate Change Service (C3S) is developing a user-driven climate information system for intermediaries, tourism companies, policy makers and other users, based on information from the C3S Climate Data Store. Part of the system is a series of indicators and indices that will help tourism providers shape their marketing strategies, future investments and plan events while considering a changing climate.

One of these indices is the Holiday Climate Index (HCI); it combines temperature, relative humidity, precipitation, cloud cover and wind helping illustrate the climatic suitability for tourism activities. The HCI can help businesses make informed decisions about the start and finish of the season, promotional campaigns, event scheduling, and staffing levels. Additionally, the Mountain Tourism Meteorological and Snow Indicators (MTMSI) will provide information about past and future temperature, and natural and managed (including effects of grooming and snowmaking) snow season duration. These data are of particular interest to ski resorts. The service, which is meant to become available later in 2019, will also offer an interactive web-interface with data not just for the Alps but all of Europe.

These new tools will be particularly interesting for the Alpine tourism sector as its seasonality and offering is already starting to look different due to climate change. Tourism providers are entering unfamiliar territory, with EO-based information tailored to their needs they will be able to make better informed business decisions and adapt to new circumstances.


Cover photo by Patrick Schneider on Unsplash.
Queensland floods kill half a million drought-stressed cattle

Queensland floods kill half a million drought-stressed cattle

By Elisa Jiménez Alonso

After a long-lasting drought, Queensland, Australia, has been hit by extreme rain reaching up to 1.4 metres in some areas – twice the amount that falls in London in a year. What started as a sigh of relief in drought-stricken communities quickly turned into floods that destroyed homes, infrastructure and left an estimated 500,000 cattle dead.

Michael Guerin, CEO of AgForce, a peak organisation representing Queensland’s rural producers, said there was no doubt this was a disaster of unprecedented proportions that will take the industry decades to recover calling it a massive humanitarian crisis. “The speed and intensity of the unfolding tragedy makes it hard to believe that it’s just a week since farmers’ elation at receiving the first decent rains in five years turned to horror at the devastating and unprecedented flood that quickly followed,” he added.

Rachael Anderson, a farmer in western Queensland lost 2,000 cattle, about half of her livestock. The losses have put her business under severe financial stress, not sure how she will be able to make repayments to her bank in six months. She added, “we can’t get loans because we’ve got nothing to borrow against, none of us have got anything left. I’m not going to lie, it will finish some people up, but others will be rebuilding.” In the meantime, the rotting bodies of dead livestock and stagnant floodwaters are creating an unbearable stench, but they are also polluting the creek Anderson’s station was using as water supply to wash clothes and brush teeth.

The crippling livestock losses come after more than five years of debilitating drought. Now, whole rural communities are fighting to survive as farmers are left with nothing but debt. Guerin implored governments to make sure these communities get long-term support to recover from these recent shocks including bringing in specialist well-being professionals.

Scott Morrisson, Australian prime minister, confirmed the federal government would provide an immediate in-kind payment of AUS$1 million to affected shires. As of 11 February, insurers had received over 13,500 claims from Townsville, Queensland, alone; the estimated losses are about AUS$165 million.

After the record-setting blistering temperatures of January 2019, bushfires that tore through 200,000 hectares in Tasmania, these extreme floods are just another frightening signal of what climate change is doing to the continent. As Adam Morton and Ben Smee write in The Guardian, Australia is “no stranger to extreme weather – bushfire, flooding, rains and skin-peeling heat are central to its history and mythology – but the contrasts this southern summer have been particularly stark.”


Cover photo by Commonwealth of Australia (CC BY-NC-ND 4.0): An MRH-90 Taipan helicopter from 5th Aviation Regiment delivers livestock feed to communities near Julia Creek to assist graziers affected by severe flooding.
Applying Earth observation data to support robust investment decisions in the face of a changing climate

Applying Earth observation data to support robust investment decisions in the face of a changing climate

By John Firth (Acclimatise), Tanzeed Alam (Earth Matters Consulting), Steven Ramage (GEO), Jed Sundwall (AWS), and Michael J. Brewer (NCEI), Sara Venturini (Acclimatise) and Elisa Jiménez Alonso (Acclimatise)

Editorial note: This is an Acclimatise & Earth Matters Consulting briefing note written in collaboration with Group on Earth Observations (GEO), Amazon Web Services (AWS), National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) National Centers for Environmental Information (NCEI).

The Eye on Earth (EoE) Symposium 2018 was held from 22-24 October 2018 in Dubai, United Arab Emirates (UAE). The event gathered experts from different disciplines to discuss the use of data in support of sustainable development. The symposium was organized by the Environment Agency-Abu Dhabi (EAD), a co-founder of the Eye on Earth movement, in partnership with the UAE Federal Competitiveness and Statistics Authority and the Eye on Earth Alliance.

In a session chaired by Tanzeed Alam of Earth Matters Consulting, panellists Steven Ramage of the Group on Earth Observations (GEO) Secretariat, Jed Sundwall of Amazon Web Services (AWS), Michael Brewer of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) National Centers for Environmental Information (NCEI), and John Firth of Acclimatise Group Ltd. discussed the application of Earth Observation (EO) data to support robust investment decisions in the face of a changing climate.

Of cooperation and access

Steven Ramage presented how GEO promotes science and technology to facilitate the use of EO for policy and decision makers around the world. A large part of this work is coordinating with all the GEO member countries in order to increase cooperation, as well as open data access and sharing. Many countries do not have suitable data at their disposal in order to make better decisions about how to address environmental challenges, including climate risks. Thus, the exchange with countries that do have good quality data can facilitate data access and make a significant difference. GEO also works to promote capacity building for the efficient use of EO data in decision making.

While GEO promotes the science and human networks that facilitate data access through cooperation, Amazon Web Services focuses on the technological side of things. Jed Sundwall shared that Amazon is looking to lower the cost of knowledge, explaining that if data is in the cloud, working with it is faster and cheaper. Nowadays, many customers rely heavily on quick data access to develop and offer services. This can drive change all over because quick data access can reach a diverse user base that goes beyond academics.

The importance of the private sector

Michael Brewer spoke about the value of data NOAA’s NCEI provides across all kinds of sectors, from agriculture and logistics to retail and finance. Many businesses, especially in the USA, use NCEI data to improve their bottom line. It helps them plan ahead and react quickly, be it delivery companies choosing their distribution hubs or farmers determining how much fertiliser to use, and even food retailers deciding what foods to stock in their shops – climate data from EO is an invaluable asset.

John Firth underlined this by presenting some of the work Acclimatise has been doing in the financial sector. Using EO data, banks can better understand and disclose on their physical climate risks. In light of our changing climate, this is of extreme importance because the safe margin within which investment decisions have been made in the past is shrinking fast and drastically. Having access to EO data and knowing how to interpret and extract information from it is crucial to understand how climate change is affecting our society.

Key takeaways

  • We can make greater use of the extensive and readily accessible data provided by the EO community together with other socio-economic and environmental data. Many potential users have little awareness about open data resources that exist and those resources are therefore under-utilised.
  • Use of EO data as such, is not the end goal, but more about how socio-economic and other data can be combined and analysed to better inform decisions. The examples shared at the event have shown how building such ‘bridges’ can better inform investment decisions in different sectors, be it utilities, the agricultural sector or financial institutions.
  • It is key to consider the needs of least developed and middle-income countries in relation to EO data for climate risk assessment and management and adaptation. Many developing countries lack skills and resources to access and make full use of EO data and services offered by major providers.
  • We need the power of EO data to enable actions to be taken by business and governments. Successfully transferring open access data and information from the scientific community to decision-makers to inform policy and business decisions is crucial to support climate adaptation that requires bespoke, local-level solutions over multiple timeframes.
  • There is no straightforward solution to the challenges of availability and accessibility of EO data and how this can be overcome to address the climate challenge at the necessary speed. It is important to accelerate the use of EO data (both space-based and in situ data) for timely adaptation action. There is no easy answer, but solutions involve the need to provide more open data, work collaboratively, and support investments in education and long-term co-design and co-production of knowledge, often badged as capacity-building.
  • Participants agreed that a major change is needed, where positive climate action is embedded in everyday habits and behaviours. Communicating our knowledge of climate change in the language of the audience and tailored to their needs is essential. EO can play a major role in improving narratives and changing habits and behaviours by showing the changes taking place in our own communities. The recent IPCC 1.5°C report highlights there is a small window of opportunity to deliver the objectives of the Paris Agreement, by scaling up mitigation actions to transition to low-carbon economies and building resilience to the physical impacts of a changing climate. EO open access data can be used via visualisation and modelling tools to help governments, business (SMEs and corporates), financial services, NGOs and communities to understand and manage their risks, and influence behaviour change.

Download this briefing note as a PDF by clicking here.


Further information

Access the recording of the Eye on Earth Symposium panel discussion by going to https://eye-on-earth.net/session-recordings/

Acclimatise is a specialist advisory and analytics company providing world-class expertise in climate change adaptation and risk management. Acclimatise focusses solely on adaptation, bridging the gap between the latest scientific developments and real-world decision making to support the public and private sector. Contact: John Firth, CEO and co-founder.

Earth Matters Consulting was established in December 2017 and provides advisory services in strategy, policy and communications for climate change, conservation and sustainability to government bodies, businesses and non-profit organisations. Contact: Tanzeed Alam, Managing Director, tanzeed(a)earth-matters.net.

Group on Earth Observations (GEO) coordinates international efforts to build a Global Earth Observation System of Systems (GEOSS). It links existing and planned Earth observation systems and supports the development of new ones in cases of perceived gaps in the supply of environment-related information. Contact: Steven Ramage, Head of External Relations, sramage(a)geosec.org.

Amazon Web Services (AWS) is a subsidiary of Amazon that provides on-demand cloud computing platforms to individuals, companies and governments, on a paid subscription basis. The technology allows subscribers access to a variety of compute power, database storage, applications, and other IT resources via the Internet. Contact: Jed Sundwall, Global Open Data Lead, jed(a)amazon.de.

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) National Centers for Environmental Information (NCEI) is the world’s largest active archive of environmental data. NCEI hosts and provides access to over 35 petabytes of comprehensive atmospheric, coastal, oceanic, and geophysical digital data, freely available through the Internet. Contact: Michael Brewer, Chief, Customer Engagement, michael.j.brewer(a)noaa.gov.

Cover photo by NASA: Landsat 8 image of the Laptev Sea.
NASA, WMO, NOAA, UK Met Office: 2018 was 4th hottest year on record

NASA, WMO, NOAA, UK Met Office: 2018 was 4th hottest year on record

By Elisa Jiménez Alonso

According to independent analyses from the U.S. National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), the UK Met Office and the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) 2018 ranks as the fourth warmest year on record globally – a clear sign of long-term climate change associated with a record high in atmospheric concentrations of greenhouse gases.

In 2018, global temperatures were about 0.83° C warmer than the 1951-1980 mean according to scientists from NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies (GISS). 2018 sits just behind 2015, 2016, and 2017; collectively, the past five years have been the warmest years on record. Nine of the ten warmest years have occurred since 2005.

This line plot shows yearly temperature anomalies from 1880 to 2018, with respect to the 1951-1980 mean, as recorded by NASA, NOAA, the Japan Meteorological Agency, the Berkeley Earth research group, and the Met Office Hadley Centre (UK). Though there are minor variations from year to year, all five temperature records show peaks and valleys in sync with each other. All show rapid warming in the past few decades, and all show the past decade has been the warmest. Credits: NASA’s Earth Observatory.

“The long-term temperature trend is far more important than the ranking of individual years, and that trend is an upward one,” said WMO Secretary-General Petteri Taalas. “The 20 warmest years on record have been in the past 22 years. The degree of warming during the past four years has been exceptional, both on land and in the ocean.”

This warming trend is not felt equally across the globe. The Arctic, for example experiences the highest rates of warming, which is especially visible through the rapid loss of sea ice. In warmer and drier climates, increasing temperatures can lead to longer fire seasons and extreme events like heatwaves or droughts. Large parts of Europe, New Zealand and parts of the Middle East and Russia reached record high temperatures in 2018. Record-high sea-surface temperatures were also measured in the southern Pacific Ocean and parts of the north and south Atlantic Ocean. “The impacts of long-term global warming are already being felt — in coastal flooding, heat waves, intense precipitation and ecosystem change,” said GISS Director Gavin Schmidt.


Cover image by NOAA’s National Centers for Environmental Information: Land & ocean temperature percentiles Jan-Dec 2018.
Ten years ago, climate adaptation research was gaining steam. Today, it’s gutted

Ten years ago, climate adaptation research was gaining steam. Today, it’s gutted

By Rod Keenan, University of Melbourne

Ten years ago, on February 7, 2009, I sat down in my apartment in central Melbourne to write a job application. All of the blinds were down, and the windows tightly closed. Outside it was 47℃. We had no air conditioning. The heat seeped through the walls.

When I stepped outside, the air ripped at my nose and throat, like a fan-forced sauna. It felt ominous. With my forestry training, and some previous experience of bad fire weather in Tasmania, I knew any fires that day would be catastrophic. They were. Black Saturday became Australia’s worst-ever bushfire disaster.

I was applying for the position of Director of the Victorian Centre for Climate Change Adaptation Research (VCCCAR). I was successful and started the job later that year.

The climate in Victoria over the previous 12 years had been harsh. Between 1997 and 2009 the state suffered its worst drought on record, and major bushfires in 2003 and 2006-07 burned more than 2 million hectares of forest. Then came Black Saturday, and the year after that saw the start of Australia’s wettest two-year period on record, bringing major floods to the state’s north, as well as to vast swathes of the rest of the country.

In Victoria alone, hundreds of millions of dollars a year were being spent on response and recovery from climate-related events. In government, the view was that things couldn’t go on that way. As climate change accelerated, these costs would only rise.

We had to get better at preparing for, and avoiding, the future impacts of rapid climate change. This is what is what we mean by the term “climate adaptation”.

Facing up to disasters

A decade after Black Saturday, with record floods in Queensland, severe bushfires in Tasmania and Victoria, widespread heatwaves and drought, and a crisis in the Murray-Darling Basin, it is timely to reflect on the state of adaptation policy and practice in Australia.

In 2009 the Rudd Labor government had taken up the challenge of reducing greenhouse gas emissions. With Malcolm Turnbull as opposition leader, we seemed headed for a bipartisan national solution ahead of the Copenhagen climate summit in December. Governments, meanwhile, agreed that adaptation was more a state and local responsibility. Different parts of Australia faced different climate risks. Communities and industries in those regions had different vulnerabilities and adaptive capacities and needed locally driven initiatives.

Led by the Brumby government in Victoria, state governments developed an adaptation policy framework and sought federal financial support to implement it. This included research on climate adaptation. The federal government put A$50 million into a new National Climate Change Adaptation Research Facility, based in Queensland, alongside the CSIRO Adaptation Flagship which was set up in 2007.

The Victorian Government invested A$5 million in VCCCAR. The state faced local risks: more heatwaves, floods, storms, bushfires and rising sea levels, and my colleagues and I found there was plenty of information on climate impacts. The question was: what can policy-makers, communities, businesses and individuals do in practical terms to plan and prepare?

Getting to work

From 2009 until June 2014, researchers from across disciplines in four universities collaborated with state and local governments, industry and the community to lay the groundwork for better decisions in a changing climate.

We held 20 regional and metropolitan consultation events and hosted visiting international experts on urban design, flood, drought, and community planning. Annual forums brought together researchers, practitioners, consultants and industry to share knowledge and engage in collective discussion on adaptation options. We worked with eight government departments, driving the message that adapting to climate change wasn’t just an “environmental” problem and needed responses across government.

All involved considered the VCCCAR a success. It improved knowledge about climate adaptation options and confidence in making climate decisions. The results fed into Victoria’s 2013 Climate Change Adaptation Plan, as well as policies for urban design and natural resource management, and practices in the local government and community sectors. I hoped the centre would continue to provide a foundation for future adaptation policy and practice.

Funding cuts

In the 2014 state budget the Napthine government chose not to continue funding the VCCCAR. Soon after, the Abbott federal government reduced the funding and scope of its national counterpart, and funding ended last year.

Meanwhile, CSIRO chief executive Larry Marshall argued that climate science was less important than the need for innovation and turning inventions into benefits for society. Along with other areas of climate science, the Adaptation Flagship was cut, its staff let go or redirected. From a strong presence in 2014, climate adaptation has become almost invisible in the national research landscape.

In the current chaos of climate policy, adaptation has been downgraded. There is a national strategy but little high-level policy attention. State governments have shifted their focus to energy, investing in renewables and energy security. Climate change was largely ignored in developing the Murray-Darling Basin Plan.

Despite this lack of policy leadership, many organisations are adapting. Local governments with the resources are addressing their particular challenges, and building resilience. Our public transport now functions better in heatwaves, and climate change is being considered in new transport infrastructure. The public is more aware of heatwave risks, and there is investment in emergency management research, but this is primarily focused on disaster response.

Large companies making long-term investments, such as Brisbane Airport, have improved their capacity to consider future climate risks. There are better planning tools and systems for business, and the finance and insurance sectors are seriously considering these risks in investment decisions. Smart rural producers are diversifying, using their resources differently, or shifting to different growing environments.

Struggling to cope

But much more is needed. Old buildings and cooling systems are not built to cope with our current temperatures. Small businesses are suffering, but few have capacity to analyse their vulnerabilities or assess responses. The power generation system is under increasing pressure. Warning systems have improved but there is still much to do to design warnings in a way that ensures an appropriate public reaction. Too many people still adopt a “she’ll be right” attitude and ignore warnings, or leave it until the last minute to evacuate.

In an internal submission to government in 2014 we proposed a Victorian Climate Resilience Program to provide information and tools for small businesses. Other parts of the program included frameworks for managing risks for local governments, urban greening, building community leadership for resilience, and new conservation approaches in landscapes undergoing rapid change.

Investment in climate adaptation pays off. Small investments now can generate payoffs of 3-5:1 in reduced future impacts. A recent business round table report indicates that carefully targeted research and information provision could save state and federal governments A$12.2 billion and reduce the overall economic costs of natural disasters (which are projected to rise to A$23 billion a year by 2050) by more than 50%.

Ten years on from Black Saturday, climate change is accelerating. The 2030 climate forecasts made in 2009 have come true in half the time. Today we are living through more and hotter heatwaves, longer droughts, uncontrollable fires, intense downpours and significant shifts in seasonal rainfall patterns.

Yes, policy-makers need to focus on reducing greenhouse emissions, but we also need a similar focus on adaptation to maintain functioning and prosperous communities, economies and ecosystems under this rapid change. It is vital that we rebuild our research capacity and learn from our past experiences, to support the partnerships needed to make climate-smart decisions.


This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

Cover photo by CSIRO (CC BY 3.0): A destroyed property at Kinglake after the ‘Black Saturday’ bushfires.
UK vegetable and fruit supplies at risk

UK vegetable and fruit supplies at risk

By Kieran Cooke

A combination of Brexit − Britain’s move to leave the European Union − and climate change is threatening UK vegetable and fruit supplies for its 66 million people.

Brexit-associated delays at ports could result in widespread shortages of a range of imported vegetables and fruit such as lettuces and tomatoes, particularly if the UK crashes out of Europe at the end of March this year with no deal in place.

Now there’s more bad news on the British food front; a just-released report says climate change and resulting abnormal weather conditions are causing significant decreases in the UK’s own vegetable and fruit harvests.

The study, produced by the Climate Coalition in association with the Priestley International Centre for Climate at the University of Leeds in the UK, says about 60% of food consumed in Britain is domestically produced.

The unusually warm summer in 2018 – the hottest ever in England since records began in 1910, according to the report – led to a drop in the onion harvest of 40% and a decline of between 25% and 30% in the carrot crop.

In 2017 the UK’s apple growers lost 25% of their produce due to unseasonably warm weather followed by an unusually late series of frosts.

“It’s really hard work growing fruit and vegetables, but erratic and extreme weather pushes you over the edge”

Matt Smee, co-founder of The Natural Veg Men

The study says climate change-related extreme and unpredictable weather is putting at risk future supplies of potatoes – a staple of the British diet.

“The UK could lose almost three-quarters of the area of land currently well-suited for potatoes by the 2050s under climate projections”, says the report.

Last year there was a 20% drop in potato yields in England and Wales, it says. More than 80% of potatoes consumed in the UK are home-grown.

“The climate extremes of the past few years – including the snowfall and freezing temperatures of February and March 2018 and one of the driest June months in England and Wales since 1910 – have been devastating for UK fruit and vegetable farmers”, the report says.

Matt Smee, who runs a vegetable growing and delivery service in the north-west of England, told the report’s authors that weather patterns in 2018 made his job near-impossible.

“It’s really hard work growing fruit and vegetables, but erratic and extreme weather pushes you over the edge”, says Smee. “I’d be devastated if I had to deal with this year (2018) again.”

Livelihoods at risk

Lee Abbey, head of horticulture at the UK’s National Farmers’ Union (NFU), says farmers’ livelihoods are being hit.

“Farmers and growers are used to dealing with fluctuations in the weather but if we have two or three extreme years in a row it has the potential to put growers out of business.”

The study says that more than half of all farms in the UK report being affected by severe flooding or storms over the past decade, while water shortages in the increasingly hot summer months are a growing problem.

“With climate scientists now predicting stronger and longer-lasting heatwaves for the UK, growers are faced with increasing risks to their operations and survival”, says the study.

The report’s authors say the priority for everyone – not just the food and farming sector – is to work to reduce carbon emissions.

The study reports some positive developments; the NFU says the aim is for the UK’s farming sector to be net zero in its greenhouse gas emissions by 2040. Increasing numbers of British farmers are investing in renewable energy.

Download the report “Recipe for Disaster“.


Kieran Cooke, a founding editor of Climate News Network, is a former foreign correspondent for the BBC and Financial Times. He now focuses on environmental issues.

This article was originally published on Climate News Network.

Cover photo by Agence Producteurs Locaux Damien Kühn on Unsplash
Australia experiences hottest month since records began

Australia experiences hottest month since records began

By Georgina Wade

January 2019 was Australia’s hottest month on record, with the country’s mean temperatures exceeding 30C for the first time since records began in 1910.

The Bureau of Meteorology released its January climate summary pointing to new records for Australia’s mean, maximum and minimum temperatures, deeming them “unprecedented”.

“There’s been so many records it’s really hard to count” said Andrew Watkins, a senior climatologist at the Bureau. 

In addition to the heat extremes, large parts of Australia received significantly less rainfall than usual at only 20% of their normal amounts. Tasmania, an island-state that has been battling bushfires throughout the past month, experienced its driest ever January.

Additional broken records include Port Augusta, which saw its highest January temperature of 49.5C, and a four-day heatwave above 40C in Menindee, which resulted in mass fish kills. Parts of western Queensland saw strings of more than 40 days of temperatures above 40C.

According to the Bureau of Meteorology and the CSIRO, Australia has warmed by 1C since 1910, and will continue to experience increases in average temperature, and a higher frequency of hot days.

The duration of heat waves will increase in every region and a large part of northern Australia will see increases in the average number of days above 35C by two to three times the normal amount.

The Bureau pointed to a delayed northern monsoon and a blockage of cooler air caused by a persistent high-pressure system in the Tasman sea as contributing to the ongoing heatwave.

“The warming trend which has seen Australian temperatures increase by more than 1C in the last 100 years also contributed to the unusually warm conditions,” Watkins said.


Access the Bureau of Meteorology’s Special Climate Statement about the heatwaves in December 2018 and January 2019 by clicking here.

Cover photo by Bureau of Meteorology: Mean daily maximum temperatures, Australia, January 2019. Access the image and more information by clicking here.
GEO and Amazon Web Services – Cloud Credits for projects that improve understanding of planet

GEO and Amazon Web Services – Cloud Credits for projects that improve understanding of planet

The new collaboration between GEO and Amazon Web Services (AWS) offers GEO Member agencies and research organisations from developing countries access to cloud services to help with the hosting, processing and analysis of big data about the Earth to inform decisions for sustainable development.

Eligible government agencies and research institutions can apply for AWS credits that will enable them to build Earth observations applications that support environmental and development goals, including the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction, the Paris Agreement and the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals.

Recipients of cloud credits through this initiative will also receive support from the GEO community and AWS experts to refine and implement their projects for the best possible results.

AWS and GEO first announced their collaboration in 2017 to support the Global Earth Observation System of Systems (GEOSS) open data platform.

Visit GEO’s website to apply and for more information.

The application deadline is 31 March 2019.


Cover photo by NASA on Unsplash.