State of the Planet

News from the Columbia Climate School


Remote Sensing Critical for Monitoring Drought

The International Research Institute for Climate and Society just posted the second interview in its series about the East Africa drought. Remote sensing guru Pietro Ceccato discusses the importance of using data and images from satellites to monitor conditions in the region, especially in areas where ground-level information is poor or nonexistent:

“…in countries like Somalia, the field measurements are [scarce] and we don’t have a large picture of where there are problems of drought…satellites allow us at high spatial resolution–we can monitor vegetation at 250-meter resolution— to pinpoint exactly which region is under stress of drought. Using satellites from NASA, we’ve seen that since November 2010 there’s been a huge deficit in vegetation in Somalia.”

In the first interview of the series, climate scientist Brad Lyon gave an overview of the climate conditions leading up to the 2010-11 drought. He said a chance of La Niña forming later in the year could have devastating consequences for a region already plagued by widespread famine.

Check our video page regularly, or follow developments on Twitter:@climatesociety.

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12 years ago

Drought and famine in Somalia have by far caused a lot of economic downfall to the country. It is very annoying that people fail to understand that what is happening in East African can happen anywhere else. With climate change a series of hazards are increasingly happening at an alarming rate. Regardless of the technology that we have at hand in tackling such situations, we still have to look back and sort out the causes of these hazards. Until we stop destroying our environment we will keep on suffering the same way somalia is doing.