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 email@example.com
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 firstname.lastname@example.org
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!
Two Most Destructive Termite Species Forming Superswarms in South Florida
27.03.2015 | University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences
Greater-than-additive management effects key in reducing corn yield gaps
18.03.2015 | University of Illinois College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences
In an experiment at the Department of Energy's SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory, scientists precisely measured the temperature and structure of aluminum as...
The IPH presents a solution at HANNOVER MESSE 2015 to make ship traffic more reliable while decreasing the maintenance costs at the same time. In cooperation with project partners, the research institute from Hannover, Germany, has developed a sensor system which continuously monitors the condition of the marine gearbox, thus preventing breakdowns. Special feature: the monitoring system works wirelessly and energy-autonomously. The required electrical power is generated where it is needed – directly at the sensor.
As well as cars need to be certified regularly (in Germany by the TÜV – Technical Inspection Association), ships need to be inspected – if the powertrain stops...
When an earthquake hits, the faster first responders can get to an impacted area, the more likely infrastructure--and lives--can be saved.
The Atlantic overturning is one of Earth’s most important heat transport systems, pumping warm water northwards and cold water southwards. Also known as the Gulf Stream system, it is responsible for the mild climate in northwestern Europe.
Scientists now found evidence for a slowdown of the overturning – multiple lines of observation suggest that in recent decades, the current system has been...
Because they are regularly subjected to heavy vehicle traffic, emissions, moisture and salt, above- and underground parking garages, as well as bridges, frequently experience large areas of corrosion. Most inspection systems to date have only been capable of inspecting smaller surface areas.
From April 13 to April 17 at the Hannover Messe (hall 2, exhibit booth C16), engineers from the Fraunhofer Institute for Nondestructive Testing IZFP will be...
25.03.2015 | Event News
19.03.2015 | Event News
17.03.2015 | Event News
27.03.2015 | Agricultural and Forestry Science
27.03.2015 | Materials Sciences
27.03.2015 | Ecology, The Environment and Conservation