A Natural Disaster Made Monkeys Age Faster

Was it a flash flood or not? Categorizing disaster types in historical records

One of the important applications of climate knowledge is in the area of disasters. Being able to predict the scale of a potential disaster and the risks a disaster could impose on a community in the future is valuable and crucial information for not just government agencies and aid organizations, but also to support individuals and communities to both build strategies to become more resilient, and to anticipate when a disaster is likely to occur.

 “Not all floods are the same. They can have different root causes and behavior, leading to very different impacts. Understanding and categorizing floods according to their triggers is key to improving disaster predictions.”

Agathe Bucherie

Disasters can differ widely based on region, climate, time of year, socioeconomic context, and other factors. However, while we have seen significant advances in understanding risk for some disaster types, such as drought and hurricanes, progress has lagged behind for other types—such as floods and particularly flash floods. While floods differ based on the water source and land area, it is generally recognized that flash floods can be especially dangerous.

Andrew Kruczkiewicz, Agathe Bucherie, Simon Mason, and their colleagues have delved into these definitions for a recent paper. We asked Agathe and Andrew for their insight into this intersection of climate data and application…READ ON

A Natural Disaster Made Monkeys Age Faster

When Hurricane Maria slammed into Puerto Rico in September 2017, it took 3,000 lives and cut off basic services on some parts of the island for nearly a year. The devastation was not restricted to that island, however. Maria’s 155-mile-per-hour winds also ripped into a 38-acre islet called Cayo Santiago that lies a half mile off the eastern coast of Puerto Rico. This small outpost is home to a colony of some 1,500 rhesus monkeys that has been the subject of hundreds of scientific studies—and the impact of the hurricane on the animals is producing still more.

Rhesus monkey on the islet of Cayo Santiago in Puerto Rico.
Credit: Lynn Hoffman/Science Source

Amazingly, all of the monkeys survived Maria, though some died soon afterward. But their habitat was ravaged. Trees were stripped of their leaves, making shade a scarce commodity, and the island’s temperature rose by an average of eight degrees Celsius…READ ON

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