Tag Archives: geologic past

Study Provides New Insights on Drought Predictions in East Africa

Research May Also Help Determine Effects of Global Warming in the Region

With more than 40 million people living under exceptional drought conditions in East Africa, the ability to make accurate predictions of drought has never been more important. In the aftermath of widespread famine and a humanitarian crisis caused by the 2010-2011 drought in the Horn of Africa—possibly the worst drought in 60 years— researchers are striving to determine whether drying trends will continue.

While it is clear that El Niño can affect precipitation in this region of East Africa, very little is known about the drivers of long-term shifts in rainfall. However, new research described in the journal Nature helps explain the mechanisms at work behind historical patterns of aridity in Eastern Africa over many decades, and the findings may help improve future predictions of drought and food security in the region. (more…)

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Taking a Robotic Geologist to Mars

As Mars rover Curiosity makes its final approach to the Red Planet, two UA geoscientists are getting ready to help solve some of the mysteries of its geologic past.

On Aug. 5, at about 10:30 p.m., an already busy summer will kick into overdrive for University of Arizona geosciences professor Bob Downs and one of his graduate students, Shaunna Morrison. At that time – provided everything goes as planned – Curiosity, the most sophisticated exploration vehicle ever sent to another planet, will parachute toward the Martian surface faster than the speed of sound after a nine-month journey through space. And as soon as it sinks its six wheels into the red dust, the two scientists specializing in mineralogy will have not one, but two planets to deal with.

As “primary data downlink leaders” designated by NASA, Downs and Morrison are part of a team of scientists tasked with the identification of rocks that Curiosity will encounter during its two-year expedition across the floor of Gale Crater near the Martian equator. (more…)

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Earth’s Hot Past: Prologue to Future Climate?

*Study of Earth’s deep past leads to look into the future*

 The magnitude of climate change during Earth’s deep past suggests that future temperatures may eventually rise far more than projected if society continues its pace of emitting greenhouse gases, a new analysis concludes.

The study, by National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) scientist Jeffrey Kiehl, will appear as a “Perspectives” article in this week’s issue of the journal Science. (more…)

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