Bringing together multidisciplinary scientists and food security analysts from UC Santa Barbara, Africa and Central America, the Climate Hazards Group develops datasets, tools and forecasts that help guide effective disaster responses and long-term development plans in food insecure countries. Working closely with partners in the US Geological Survey, NASA, and the Famine Early Warning Systems Network, the team uses climate and hydrologic models, satellite-based earth observations, and socio-economic data sets to predict and monitor droughts and food shortages among the world's most vulnerable populations, supporting critical planning and timely humanitarian assistance that save lives and livelihoods.When climate variability and shifting climatic trends converge to produce severe droughts, fragile food insecure populations may rapidly face severe food crises as supplies drop, prices rise and household incomes decline. In vulnerable areas, these unanticipated climate shocks may devastate herds and harvests threatening local food stocks. Unfortunately, the number of very hungry people has been growing at an alarming rate over the past few decades, with more than 76 million people experiencing life-threatening conditions in 2017 and 2018. This recent increase in food insecurity has been most apparent in less developed regions of the world, especially in Africa, where many people are already vulnerable to the impacts of droughts and floods. Using traditional monitoring and forecasting methods, it is difficult to predict when these vulnerable regions will be most in need of humanitarian aid with adequate advance notice.
To address this problem, the Climate Hazards Group (CHG) works with US, African and Latin American partners to develop and deploy improved earth observations, forecasts, and capacity building decision support tools.
In 1985, the Famine Early Warning Systems Network (FEWS NET) was created by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) to provide advance warning of potential famine events and to collect data to support humanitarian response programs. In 2003, in close collaboration with the US Geological Survey Earth Resources Observation and Science Center, the CHG was founded to support FEWS NET.
A unique component of the CHG team is its international composition. Almost half of the members of the CHG team live in Africa or Latin America. These scientists work closely with local stakeholders, decision-makers and science institutions to increase disaster preparedness and guide long term 'climate-smart' development. Building on the CHG's commitment to developing datasets and tools, and harnessing the tremendous potential of satellite-based earth observations, these capacity building efforts are strengthening defences along the frontlines of climate change. In partnership with the USGS, NASA and USAID's SERVIR, CHG works hard to put effective decision support tools in the hands of Africa and Latin America's rapidly expanding group of climate experts.
Since its formation, the group has published over 140 papers and reports, and provided access to in-depth climatic data sets to thousands of people each month. The CHG routinely contributes actionable information supporting the mobilisation of emergency relief that has helped tens of millions of people.