Climate May Reduce Crop Yields…
NASA warns that climate change could affect maize and wheat production as early as 2030, and that these agricultural changes could have catastrophic consequences for global breadbaskets.
In a study published this week in Nature Food, scientists have found that rising temperatures, rising emissions of greenhouse gases and carbon dioxide, and changes in rainfall can have a catastrophic impact on the yields of common crops. The results surprised even NASA researchers.
“Compared to the previous generation of crop and crop-yield predictions from the climate model in 2014, we didn’t expect such a fundamental change,” said Jonas Jagermeyr, a climate scientist at the Goddard Institute for Space Studies at the University of California. Jonas Jägermeyr said in a statement, “A 20% drop in current production levels could have serious global consequences.”
The team used sophisticated climate model simulations to study the impact of increased greenhouse gas emissions on the climate up to 2100. They then input that data into crop model simulations to understand how changes in temperature, precipitation, and in carbon dioxide levels affect growth rates.
By 2030, maize production could drop by 24%. Wheat production may initially increase by 17% over the same period but will stabilize by the middle of this century.
“What we do is promote simulated harvests. These harvests actually produce virtual harvests every day, supported by supercomputers, and then observe year-to-year and ten-year changes around the world.” Co-author of the article and co-director of the GISS Climate Impact Group, Ya Alex Ruane, said in the statement.
While the data clearly illustrate the potential impact of climate change on wheat and maize crops, these models do not clearly illustrate the impact on other crops, including rice and soybeans. But even if drastic measures are taken, the impact on agriculture could be far-reaching.
“Even in an optimistic climate change scenario, where society has made ambitious efforts to contain the rise in global temperature, global agriculture is also facing a new climate reality,” said Jägermeyr, noting that, given our global food system, “impacts in even one region’s breadbasket will be felt worldwide.”