When scientists talk about climate change, they usually mean significant changes in the measures of climate over several decades or longer. Climate variability generally refers to seasonal changes over a year or so.
Lisa Goddard, an expert on climate change and variability, focuses on where the two intersect. As director of the Earth Institute’s International Research Institute for Climate and Society, based at Columbia’s Lamont campus, she looks into climate variations over a two-to-20 year time frame.
“The need to plan for longer time frames has become an issue,” says Goddard, also an adjunct associate professor in the Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences. “But very few of the decision makers we work with are thinking about the end of the 21st century or the next 50 years. They want to know if they will have water in their reservoirs for the next couple of years, or how to plan for agricultural evolution over the next 10 years.”
The institute Goddard leads works primarily with developing countries to help them anticipate and manage climate-related events such as droughts, floods and heat waves. Near-term climate change research, which addresses the next decade or two, can help governments plan infrastructure projects that take years to build, such as irrigation for crops that are normally rain-fed, or water-management policies for energy generation.
Read more at: Phys.org