N.C. A&T Professor Contributes to State of Climate Report, Efforts Addressing Climate Change

By Jamie Crockett / 01/03/2024 College of Science and Technology

EAST GREENSBORO. N.C. (Jan. 3, 2024) – More than 570 scientists in over 60 countries contributed to the 2022 State of the Climate Report, which revealed “Earth’s greenhouse gas concentrations were the highest on record, heatwaves shattered temperature records across the planet, the Arctic was warm and wet and the ocean heat and global sea level were also the highest on record,” among other findings. 

This report, released annually for 33 years, is an international, peer-reviewed effort scientists use to inform communities and policymakers of the changes in climate. The document is compiled by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s National Centers for Environmental Information and is published as a supplement to the Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society.

Ademe Mekonnen, Ph.D., a professor of physics in the College of Science and Technology (CoST) at North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University, has served as the chapter editor of the African region for eight consecutive years.

“Things are not changing for the better in general and temperatures are not stabilizing, they are increasing everywhere, including Africa,” said Mekonnen. “The other issue is Africa specifically is droughts and flooding at the same time, and actually over the same region.” 

Mekonnen recalled the rainfall was below average in the area overall in the year prior, and what this signals to the scientific community is small changes have significant effects. 

“We have seen rainfall changing in its nature. Some regions in the eastern part of Africa had devastating floods, but if you move in any direction from that area, we noticed the rainfall was much below normal,” he said.

If crops do not get enough moisture, the land will experience a crop failure, which Mekonnen said is a “huge problem” for Africa. 

He also noted when more developed countries like the United States experience droughts, bringing resources like food from one corner of the country to another is a feasible solution.

“In the U.S. we may not feel the effects, but for some regions in Africa, this is not the case,” said Mekonnen. “Even if certain areas are experiencing a surplus, and others a deficiency, there are weaknesses in the transportation and communication systems that would hinder the movement of essential resources.

Disparity in resources and systemic breakdowns, however, are not challenges unique to Africa. Scientists not only want to inform policymakers of the changes in climate on a larger scale, but are working directly with leaders and members of the general public to help address the challenges on a localized level – especially in underserved communities.

Mekonnen studies climate variability and climate change with a focus on Africa and the Atlantic and his efforts are supported by federal funding. He is a principal investigator (PI) on the Reaching a New Energy Sciences Workforce (RENEW) Department of Energy-funded initiative. He also serves as a co-PI on another DOE-funded Climate Resiliency Center (CRC) project led by his colleague in CoST, Solomon Bililign, Ph.D., which further underscores N.C. A&T’s leadership and expertise in the area of climate change.

“The CRC is laying a foundation for the future of the Piedmont Triad area. It’s not just research and education, but outreach to the community that has been overlooked,” said Mekonnen. “Our objective is to bring community members and leaders on board and let them decide what they would like to see since a changing climate affects different neighborhoods for different reasons.”

Media Contact Information: jicrockett@ncat.edu

College News, All News, Headlines