Aug 9, 2017

What it takes to recover from drought

Associated Press

Using a combination of satellite imagery, machine learning and land surface supercomputer models, scientists have discovered the factors that determine how long it takes a place to fully recover from a drought. According to a study published today in Nature, post-drought temperatures and ongoing precipitation levels once the rains return heavily influence a region's rebound.

Why it matters: The factors that most determine drought recovery were largely unknown. Now, scientists may be able to better account for how long it takes to bounce back— and the conditions that can lead to more droughts — in climate change models.

Big picture: Both temperature and precipitation factors may shorten the time in between droughts as Earth's climate changes, which could some day irreversibly damage some ecosystems, the researchers concluded. More intense droughts may also be affecting the ability of land to absorb and store carbon from the atmosphere.

Of note: The researchers also found drought impacts gradually worsened throughout the 20th century, and that recovery times lasted longer in the tropics and in Russia, Alaska and other places in the high northern latitudes, potentially putting them at more risk.

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U.S. coronavirus updates: New York tops previous day's record death toll

Data: The Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins; Map: Andrew Witherspoon/Axios

New York's death toll surged to its highest one-day total on Wednesday — beating the previous day's record. 779 people died in the state in 24 hours. The state has reported more cases than the most-affected countries in Europe.

Why it matters: Public health officials have warned this would be a particularly deadly week for America, even as New York began to see declining trends of hospitalizations and ICU admissions.

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Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 7 p.m. ET: 1,504,971 — Total deaths: 87,984 — Total recoveries: 318,068Map.
  2. U.S.: Total confirmed cases as of 7 p.m. ET: 424,945 — Total deaths: 14,529 — Total recoveries: 23,292Map.
  3. Federal government latest: Top Trump administration officials had been developing a plan to give cloth masks to huge numbers of Americans, but the idea lost traction amid heavy internal skepticism.
  4. States latest: Chicago's Cook County jail is largest-known source of coronavirus in U.S.
  5. Business update: One-third of U.S. jobs are at risk of disappearing, mostly affecting low-income workers.
  6. World update: WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus urged countries to put politics aside "if you don’t want to have many more body bags.”
  7. Environment update: COVID-19 is underscoring the connection between air pollution and dire outcomes from respiratory diseases.
  8. What should I do? Pets, moving and personal healthAnswers about the virus from Axios expertsWhat to know about social distancingQ&A: Minimizing your coronavirus risk.
  9. Other resources: CDC on how to avoid the virus, what to do if you get it.

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The pandemic and pollution

New York City's skyline on a smoggy day in May 2019. Photo: Drew Angerer/Getty Images

COVID-19 is underscoring the connection between air pollution and dire outcomes from respiratory diseases.

Why it matters: Old-fashioned air pollution is almost certainly the single biggest environmental health threat, contributing to the deaths of some 7 million people a year according to the WHO, making it comparable to deaths from smoking.

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