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Please begin with an informative title:

UNEP environmental change hotspots hosted at http://na.unep.net
The UNEP Global Environmental Alert Services (GEAS) this month details the important role satellite imagery plays in measuring the impact of human activity on the environment over time. Focusing on key areas where both slow and rapid environmental change have occurred, GEAS  catalyzes policy makers as they work towards adapting to create "hopespots" for sustainable development.

To date, identified UNEP hotspots include deforestation throughout South America;
the shrinking of glaciers in both polar and mountain areas (as well as glacial advance in Alaska); water diversion for irrigation on North and East Africa and West Asia; change to land appearance in North America and Australia due to resource extraction; and reforestation in Uganda and Niger.

The significance of satellite imagery as vital to ecosystem management decisions across national borders is evidenced in a case study on  the decreasing water of Lake Chad between 1973 and 2012. The imagery showed  how this negatively  impacted agriculture and fishing in nearby countries such as Niger, Nigeria, Chad, and Cameroon.

Earth Observatory 2012 US Drought Images captures June through July 2012 http://earthobservatory.nasa.gov/...
Satellite imagery and early warning systems are also integral in responding to the ongoing drought conditions in the United States. The USDA Drought Programs and Assistance has established several programs which are being used to inform the creation of a Global Drought Monitoring Portal (GDMP).  The US program profiles key aspects of drought resistant communities, providing ready access to the US Drought Monitor, resources to managing drought risk, Cooperative Extension Drought Resources, and web-based services such as HayNet, where farmers and ranchers in need of hay can hook up with those who have extra hay to offer.   NIDIS, the World Meteorological Organization, and the Global Earth Observation System of Systems are participants in this endeavor.

Collaborations such as these are increasingly important models as the global community addresses health crises caused by extreme weather events and climate change. The Hondoras yesterday declared a state of emergency as half the country's municipalities reported cases of dengue fever, an illness which is spreading to regions were heat, moisture and precipitation patterns have shifted due to climactic changes. Studying hotspots like the Hondoras is helpful in the United States, for example, where dengue has now been identified in upwards of 28 states and is expected to increase significantly over the next 50 years.

Another reason this work is important to the United States was reflected in a post last week US Rates High on Climate Risk Index where Germanwatch listed the US as one of three out of 14 nations who experienced the most extreme meteorological events where the likelihood the events were caused by climate change was extremely high. The incident named was the 2011 drought in Texas, Oklahoma, New Mexico and Louisiana.

NOAA last month reported on lessons learned from the 2011 drought, indicating that an adequate early warning system along with improved communication and collaboration among decision makers were tantamount to managing and improving impacts of future droughts.

And, in response to the President's Climate Action Plan, NOAA responded to the need for shorter-term drought forecasts with the announcement of the publication of monthly drought outlooks as an additional tool to assist in preparing communities to become more resilient and prepared to deal with extreme weather and climate. In addition to the weekly U.S. Drought Monitor the new publication is designed to "better capture the rapid onset of drought and drought improvement--information needed by our many stakeholders, especially farmers and ranchers who need timely and accurate information to make short-term decisions during growing season."

The monthly product is now possible due to improvements in weather and climate model forecasts and associated post-processing as reflected in extended range forecasts (e.g., 6-10 day, 8-14 day, and monthly forecasts). The product now includes keywords such as "persistence," "improvement," and "removal," which will help users more clearly understand predicted conditions in their region.

You must enter an Intro for your Diary Entry between 300 and 1150 characters long (that's approximately 50-175 words without any html or formatting markup).

Global communications and modeling is enhanced by other improved technologies, such as
NOAA Weather Services's mega supercompter, which is capable of performing 213 million calculations each second. These capacities are instrumental in extended forecasting, improving early warning systems for collaborative modeling for both local and global sustainable development, and for creating the wherewithall to convert hotpots into points of hope.

Extended (Optional)

Originally posted to boatsie on Wed Jul 31, 2013 at 04:34 AM PDT.

Also republished by Kitchen Table Kibitzing.

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