If farmers don't move their corn north, the more frequent heat waves could lead to bigger swings in corn prices – "price volatility" – which cause spikes in food prices, farmers' incomes and the price livestock farmers and ethanol producers pay for corn.
America's No. 1 crop could see its prime growing region shift to the Canadian border or its price volatility increase sharply within 30 years. A new Stanford study points to climate change as the cause. Credit: Doug Wilson, Agricultural Research Service, USDA
A study published April 22 in the journal Nature Climate Change shows for the first time climate change's outsized influence on year-to-year swings in corn prices.
Researchers from Stanford and Purdue universities found that climate change's impact on corn price volatility could far outweigh the volatility caused by changing oil prices or government energy policies mandating biofuels production from corn and other crops.
"Frankly, I was surprised that climate had the largest effect of these three influences," said Noah Diffenbaugh, an assistant professor of environmental Earth system science at Stanford's School of Earth Sciences and a fellow at the Stanford Woods Institute for the Environment. "These are substantial changes in price volatility that come from relatively moderate global warming."
The study, based on economic, climatic and agricultural data and computational models, finds that even if climate change stays within the internationally recognized target limit of 3.6 degrees Fahrenheit above pre-industrial levels, the temperature changes could still make damaging heat waves much more common over the U.S. corn belt.
"Severe heat is the big hammer," Diffenbaugh said. "Even one or two degrees of global warming is likely to substantially increase heat waves that lead to low-yield years and more price volatility."
The researchers calculate that when climate change's effects are coupled with federal mandates for biofuel production, corn price volatility could increase sharply over the period from 2020 to 2040. Increasing heat waves will lead to low-yield years, and government-mandated corn sales to ethanol producers limit the market's ability to buffer against low-yield years.
"By limiting the ability of commodity markets to adjust to yield fluctuations, biofuels mandates work in exactly the wrong direction," said Thomas Hertel, a professor of agricultural economics at Purdue University who participated in the study.
"Our results suggest that energy policy decisions are likely to interact with climate change to affect corn price volatility, and that the market effect of a binding biofuel mandate is likely to intensify as the climate warms," Diffenbaugh said.
Diffenbaugh and Hertel also explored the potential of farmers to adapt to the changing climate. They found that, unless corn farmers increase their crops' heat tolerance by as much as 6 degrees Fahrenheit, the areas of high corn production would have to move northward from the current U.S. corn belt to near the Canadian border in order to avoid excessive heat extremes.
"Our goal was to explore the interacting influences of climate, energy markets and energy policy," said Diffenbaugh. "It is clear from our results that those policy decisions could strongly affect the impacts that climate change has on people. And, importantly, we also identify potential opportunities for reducing those impacts through adaptation."
This article was written by Rob Jordan of the Stanford Woods Institute for the Environment.
Rob Jordan | EurekAlert!
Energy crop production on conservation lands may not boost greenhouse gases
13.03.2017 | Penn State
How nature creates forest diversity
07.03.2017 | International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA)
Astronomers from Bonn and Tautenburg in Thuringia (Germany) used the 100-m radio telescope at Effelsberg to observe several galaxy clusters. At the edges of these large accumulations of dark matter, stellar systems (galaxies), hot gas, and charged particles, they found magnetic fields that are exceptionally ordered over distances of many million light years. This makes them the most extended magnetic fields in the universe known so far.
The results will be published on March 22 in the journal „Astronomy & Astrophysics“.
Galaxy clusters are the largest gravitationally bound structures in the universe. With a typical extent of about 10 million light years, i.e. 100 times the...
Researchers at the Goethe University Frankfurt, together with partners from the University of Tübingen in Germany and Queen Mary University as well as Francis Crick Institute from London (UK) have developed a novel technology to decipher the secret ubiquitin code.
Ubiquitin is a small protein that can be linked to other cellular proteins, thereby controlling and modulating their functions. The attachment occurs in many...
In the eternal search for next generation high-efficiency solar cells and LEDs, scientists at Los Alamos National Laboratory and their partners are creating...
Silicon nanosheets are thin, two-dimensional layers with exceptional optoelectronic properties very similar to those of graphene. Albeit, the nanosheets are less stable. Now researchers at the Technical University of Munich (TUM) have, for the first time ever, produced a composite material combining silicon nanosheets and a polymer that is both UV-resistant and easy to process. This brings the scientists a significant step closer to industrial applications like flexible displays and photosensors.
Silicon nanosheets are thin, two-dimensional layers with exceptional optoelectronic properties very similar to those of graphene. Albeit, the nanosheets are...
Enzymes behave differently in a test tube compared with the molecular scrum of a living cell. Chemists from the University of Basel have now been able to simulate these confined natural conditions in artificial vesicles for the first time. As reported in the academic journal Small, the results are offering better insight into the development of nanoreactors and artificial organelles.
Enzymes behave differently in a test tube compared with the molecular scrum of a living cell. Chemists from the University of Basel have now been able to...
20.03.2017 | Event News
14.03.2017 | Event News
07.03.2017 | Event News
24.03.2017 | Materials Sciences
24.03.2017 | Physics and Astronomy
24.03.2017 | Physics and Astronomy