Noticed any crazy weather lately? You may be feeling the return of El Niño. Scientists announced on July 21 that one of the most potent influences on global weather patterns has set an all-time record for warmth in the Eastern Pacific Ocean.A robust El Niño spells a muted hurricane season for the Eastern US, and much-needed rains for the West, which has been parched for years. But other parts of the world are likely to face drought, wildfires and crop failures. As a climate phenomenon, El Niño has been around for millennia. But it’s only in the last century that we have come to understand how the wild weather plays a role in everything from flu pandemics to the price of coffee.
As weather patterns change, some farmers are finding they are losing more nitrogen from their fertilizers to the surrounding environment. In many cases, this is due to increased and unseasonal rainfall, followed by long dry spells and warmer winters.
2014 is on track to be hottest year on record, according to new reports. This is remarkable since such records are typically set in years where the long-term manmade warming trend and the El Niño warming pattern combine. But this year, it's pretty much all global warming.
It may have a glass roof and be filled with plants, but the Advanced Crop Lab at the Durham, North Carolina, headquarters of agricultural biotech firm Syngenta does a lot more than a typical greenhouse. Scientists can program its dozens of rooms with individual climates in order to test new crops that might flourish in our sweltering, drought-filled future.
Plants have been hailed as possible saviors of the planet as it continues to warm up, especially considering that they can absorb more harmful carbon dioxide than previously thought. However, now new research says soil nutrients may hinder this plan, keeping plants from slowing down climate change.
With temperatures rising and extreme weather becoming more frequent, 'climate-smart agriculture' is using a host of measures — from new planting practices to improved water management — to keep farmers ahead of climate change.
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