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The hunger forecast

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Science  17 Apr 2020:
Vol. 368, Issue 6488, pp. 226-229
DOI: 10.1126/science.368.6488.226

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Summary

In a quiet corner of the University of California, Santa Barbara, the Climate Hazards Center practices what it calls "humanitarian earth system science." Working with partners funded by the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), this small team has refined its forecasts over 20 years from basic weather monitoring to a sophisticated fusion of climate science, agronomy, and economics that can warn of drought and subsequent famines months before they arise. The team's tools feed into planning at aid agencies around the world, including USAID, where they are the foundation of the agency's Famine Early Warning Systems Network, which guides the deployment of $4 billion in annual food aid. The forecasts are needed more than ever. From 2015 to 2019, the global number of people at risk of famine rose 80% to some 85 million. Global warming, and the droughts and storms it encourages, plays a role in this increase, with the pace and severity of storms and droughts in Africa seemingly increasing.

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