by Staff Writers
Montreal, Canada (SPX) Jan 08, 2016
Drought and extreme heat events slashed cereal harvests in recent decades by 9% to 10% on average in affected countries - and the impact of these weather disasters was greatest in the developed nations of North America, Europe and Australasia, according to a new study led by researchers from McGill University and the University of British Columbia.
At a time when global warming is projected to lead to more extreme weather, the study, published in Nature, provides the most comprehensive look yet at the influence of such events on crop area, yields and production around the world. The researchers analyzed national production data for 16 cereals in the 177 countries included in an international database of extreme weather disasters.
The impact from droughts grew larger in the period from 1985 to 2007, according to the study, which examined the effects of about 2,800 weather disasters from 1964 to 2007.
"We have always known that extreme weather causes crop production losses," says senior author Navin Ramankutty, professor of global food security and sustainability at UBC's Liu Institute for Global Issues and Institute for Resources, Environment and Sustainability.
"But until now we did not know exactly how much global production was lost to such extreme weather events, and how they varied by different regions of the world."
Differences in agricultural scale and methods
"Across the breadbaskets of North America, for example, the crops and methods of farming are very uniform across huge areas, so if a drought hits in a way that is damaging to those crops, they will all suffer," says first author Corey Lesk, a recent graduate of McGill's Department of Geography.
"By contrast, in much of the developing world, the cropping systems are a patchwork of small fields with diverse crops. If a drought hits, some of those crops may be damaged, but others may survive.
Maximizing yields vs. minimizing risk
One bright note does emerge from the analysis: the extreme weather events had no significant lasting impact on agricultural production in the years following the disasters.
"Our findings may help guide agricultural priorities and adaptation efforts, to better protect farming systems and the populations that depend on them," Ramankutty says.
Pedram Rowhani of the University of Sussex in the UK co-authored the study.
The research was supported by a Discovery Grant from the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada.
"Influence of extreme weather disasters on global crop production," Corey Lesk, Pedram Rowhani, and Navin Ramankutty. Nature, Jan. 7, 2016.
Farming Today - Suppliers and Technology
|The content herein, unless otherwise known to be public domain, are Copyright 1995-2016 - Space Media Network. All websites are published in Australia and are solely subject to Australian law and governed by Fair Use principals for news reporting and research purposes. AFP, UPI and IANS news wire stories are copyright Agence France-Presse, United Press International and Indo-Asia News Service. ESA news reports are copyright European Space Agency. All NASA sourced material is public domain. Additional copyrights may apply in whole or part to other bona fide parties. Advertising does not imply endorsement, agreement or approval of any opinions, statements or information provided by Space Media Network on any Web page published or hosted by Space Media Network. Privacy Statement All images and articles appearing on Space Media Network have been edited or digitally altered in some way. Any requests to remove copyright material will be acted upon in a timely and appropriate manner. Any attempt to extort money from Space Media Network will be ignored and reported to Australian Law Enforcement Agencies as a potential case of financial fraud involving the use of a telephonic carriage device or postal service.|