A study led by the University of Leeds has shown that global warming of only 2°C will be detrimental to crops in temperate and tropical regions, with reduced yields from the 2030s onwards.
Professor Andy Challinor, from the School of Earth and Environment at the University of Leeds and lead author of the study, said: "Our research shows that crop yields will be negatively affected by climate change much earlier than expected."
"Furthermore, the impact of climate change on crops will vary both from year-to-year and from place-to-place – with the variability becoming greater as the weather becomes increasingly erratic."
The study, published today by the journal Nature Climate Change, feeds directly into the Working Group II report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Fifth Assessment Report, which is due to be published at the end of March 2014.
In the study, the researchers created a new data set by combining and comparing results from 1,700 published assessments of the response that climate change will have on the yields of rice, maize and wheat.
Due to increased interest in climate change research, the new study was able to create the largest dataset to date on crop responses, with more than double the number of studies that were available for researchers to analyse for the IPCC Fourth Assessment Report in 2007.
In the Fourth Assessment Report, scientists had reported that regions of the world with temperate climates, such as Europe and most of North America, could withstand a couple of degrees of warming without a noticeable effect on harvests, or possibly even benefit from a bumper crop.
"As more data have become available, we've seen a shift in consensus, telling us that the impacts of climate change in temperate regions will happen sooner rather than later," said Professor Challinor.
The researchers state that we will see, on average, an increasingly negative impact of climate change on crop yields from the 2030s onwards. The impact will be greatest in the second half of the century, when decreases of over 25% will become increasingly common.
These statistics already account for minor adaptation techniques employed by farmers to mitigate the effects of climate change, such as small adjustments in the crop variety and planting date. Later in the century, greater agricultural transformations and innovations will be needed in order to safeguard crop yields for future generations.
"Climate change means a less predictable harvest, with different countries winning and losing in different years. The overall picture remains negative, and we are now starting to see how research can support adaptation by avoiding the worse impacts," concludes Professor Challinor.
The study was financially supported by the NERC EQUIP programme and the CGIAR Research Program on Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security (CCAFS), with the financial assistance of the European Union, Canadian International Development Agency, World Bank, New Zealand Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade and Danida.
The research paper, 'A meta-analysis of crop yield under climate change and adaptation', was published online by the journal Nature Climate Change on 16 March 2014: http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/NCLIMATE2153
Professor Andy Challinor, a lead author of the forthcoming IPCC report, is available for interview. Please contact Sarah Reed, Press Officer, University of Leeds, on 0113 34 34196 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
Lead authors of research papers from the University of Leeds from all three Working Groups of the IPCC Fifth Assessment Report will be available for interview at the About Transformational Climate Science 2014 conference, which will be held in Exeter on 15-16 May 2014. The event is co-organised by the University of Leeds, the Met Office and the University of Exeter. For further information, please contact Sarah Reed, Press Officer, University of Leeds, on 0113 34 34196 or email email@example.com
University of Leeds
The University of Leeds is one of the largest higher education institutions in the UK and a member of the Russell Group of research-intensive universities. http://www.leeds.ac.uk
Sarah Reed | EurekAlert!
Rainforest protection akin to speed limit control
16.04.2015 | Rheinische Friedrich-Wilhelms-Universität Bonn
Diversity in a monoculture
15.04.2015 | Max-Planck-Institut für chemische Ökologie
Astronomers from Chalmers University of Technology have used the giant telescope Alma to reveal an extremely powerful magnetic field very close to a supermassive black hole in a distant galaxy
Astronomers from Chalmers University of Technology have used the giant telescope Alma to reveal an extremely powerful magnetic field very close to a...
A team of physicists from MPQ, Caltech, and ICFO proposes the combination of nano-photonics with ultracold atoms for simulating quantum many-body systems and creating new states of matter.
Ultracold atoms in the so-called optical lattices, that are generated by crosswise superposition of laser beams, have been proven to be one of the most...
According to new research out of the Texas A&M Health Science Center College of Medicine, that is indeed the case. Chetan Jinadatha, M.D., M.P.H., assistant...
Researchers from ICFO, MIT and UC Riverside have been able to develop a graphene-based photodetector capable of converting absorbed light into an electrical voltage at ultrafast timescales
The efficient conversion of light into electricity plays a crucial role in many technologies, ranging from cameras to solar cells.
Electrical charges not only move through wires, they also travel along lengths of DNA, the molecule of life. The property is known as charge transport.
In a new study appearing in the journal Nature Chemistry, authors, Limin Xiang, Julio Palma, Christopher Bruot and others at Arizona State University's...
13.04.2015 | Event News
25.03.2015 | Event News
19.03.2015 | Event News
17.04.2015 | Power and Electrical Engineering
17.04.2015 | Earth Sciences
17.04.2015 | Physics and Astronomy