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!
Back to Nature: Palm oil plantations are being turned back into protected rainforest
21.03.2019 | Forschungsverbund Berlin e.V.
The inner struggle of the evening primrose: Chloroplasts are caught up in an evolutionary arms race
14.03.2019 | Max-Planck-Institut für Molekulare Pflanzenphysiologie
DESY and MPSD scientists create high-order harmonics from solids with controlled polarization states, taking advantage of both crystal symmetry and attosecond electronic dynamics. The newly demonstrated technique might find intriguing applications in petahertz electronics and for spectroscopic studies of novel quantum materials.
The nonlinear process of high-order harmonic generation (HHG) in gases is one of the cornerstones of attosecond science (an attosecond is a billionth of a...
Nano- and microtechnology are promising candidates not only for medical applications such as drug delivery but also for the creation of little robots or flexible integrated sensors. Scientists from the Max Planck Institute for Polymer Research (MPI-P) have created magnetic microparticles, with a newly developed method, that could pave the way for building micro-motors or guiding drugs in the human body to a target, like a tumor. The preparation of such structures as well as their remote-control can be regulated using magnetic fields and therefore can find application in an array of domains.
The magnetic properties of a material control how this material responds to the presence of a magnetic field. Iron oxide is the main component of rust but also...
Due to the special arrangement of its molecules, a new coating made of corn starch is able to repair small scratches by itself through heat: The cross-linking via ring-shaped molecules makes the material mobile, so that it compensates for the scratches and these disappear again.
Superficial micro-scratches on the car body or on other high-gloss surfaces are harmless, but annoying. Especially in the luxury segment such surfaces are...
The Potsdam Echelle Polarimetric and Spectroscopic Instrument (PEPSI) at the Large Binocular Telescope (LBT) in Arizona released its first image of the surface magnetic field of another star. In a paper in the European journal Astronomy & Astrophysics, the PEPSI team presents a Zeeman- Doppler-Image of the surface of the magnetically active star II Pegasi.
A special technique allows astronomers to resolve the surfaces of faraway stars. Those are otherwise only seen as point sources, even in the largest telescopes...
Researchers at Chalmers University of Technology and the University of Gothenburg, Sweden, have proposed a way to create a completely new source of radiation. Ultra-intense light pulses consist of the motion of a single wave and can be described as a tsunami of light. The strong wave can be used to study interactions between matter and light in a unique way. Their research is now published in the scientific journal Physical Review Letters.
"This source of radiation lets us look at reality through a new angle - it is like twisting a mirror and discovering something completely different," says...
11.03.2019 | Event News
01.03.2019 | Event News
28.02.2019 | Event News
22.03.2019 | Life Sciences
22.03.2019 | Life Sciences
22.03.2019 | Information Technology