Tag Archives: floods

Floods didn’t provide nitrogen ‘fix’ for earliest crops in frigid north

Floods didn’t make floodplains fertile during the dawn of human agriculture in the Earth’s far north because the waters were virtually devoid of nitrogen, unlike other areas of the globe scientists have studied.

Instead, the hardy Norsemen and early inhabitants of Russia and Canada have microorganisms called cyanobacteria to mostly thank for abundant grasses that attracted game to hunt and then provided fodder once cattle were domesticated. The process is still underway in the region’s pristine floodplains. (more…)

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In Blown-Down Forests, a Story of Survival

To preserve forest health, the best management decision may be to do nothing

In newscasts after intense wind and ice storms, damaged trees stand out: snapped limbs, uprooted trunks, entire forests blown nearly flat.

In a storm’s wake, landowners, municipalities and state agencies are faced with important financial and environmental decisions.

A study by Harvard University researchers, supported by the National Science Foundation (NSF) and published in the journal Ecology, yields a surprising result: when it comes to the health of forests, native plants and wildlife, the best management decision may be to do nothing. (more…)

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The Depths of Winter: How Much Snow Is In Fact On the Ground?

*Will lasers and GPS technology finally enable accurate measurement of snowfall?*

Equipped with specialized lasers and GPS technology, scientists are working to address a critical wintertime weather challenge: how to accurately measure the amount of snow on the ground.

Transportation crews, water managers and others who make vital safety decisions need precise measurements of how snow depth varies across wide areas. (more…)

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A Better Way to ID Extreme Weather Events in Climate Models

*Berkeley Lab scientists help automate the search for hurricanes and other storms in huge datasets*

You’d think that spotting a category 5 hurricane would never be difficult. But when the hurricane is in a global climate model that spans several decades, it becomes a fleeting wisp among mountains of data.

That’s a problem. As scientists develop ever-more sophisticated computer models to predict the effects of climate change, one of the things they’ll look for are changes in the frequency of extreme weather events such as hurricanes and heavy precipitation. The more data generated by models, however, the more difficult it is to quantify these rare but potent events. (more…)

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Pakistan Floods Last Summer Could Have Been Predicted

WASHINGTON — Five days before intense monsoonal deluges unleashed vast floods across Pakistan last July, computer models at a European weather-forecasting center were giving clear indications that the downpours were imminent. Now, a new scientific study that retrospectively examines the raw data from these computer models, has confirmed that, if the information had been processed, forecasters could have predicted extremely accurate rainfall totals 8-10 days beforehand.

The study also finds that the floods themselves could have been predicted if this data, which originated from the European Centre for Medium-Range Weather Forecasting (ECMWF), had been processed and fed into a hydrological model, which takes terrain into account. (more…)

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