Tuesday, March 08, 2016

The future of agriculture and climate change

Here are two stories that show how it's really hard to be confident as to what will happen to agriculture and climate change:

1.   A study looking at South America gives some concern:
The study, published in Nature Climate Change, focused on the Brazilian state of Mato Grosso, an emerging global breadbasket that as of 2013 supplied 10 percent of the world's soybeans. The researchers used variations in temperature and precipitation across the state over an eight-year period to estimate the sensitivity of the region's agricultural production to . Those historical comparisons can help in making predictions about the sensitivity of agriculture to future climate change.

The study found that, if the patterns from 2002 to 2008 hold in the future, an increase in average temperature in Mato Grosso of just 1 degree Celsius will lead to a nine to 13 percent reduction in overall production of soy and corn. "This is worrisome given that the temperature in the study region is predicted to rise by as much as 2 degrees by midcentury under the range of plausible greenhouse gas emissions scenarios," said Avery Cohn, assistant professor of environment and resource policy at Tufts, who led the work while he was a visiting researcher at Brown.
2.  An Australian study, on the other hand, notes some possible compensating effects:
Elevated atmospheric [CO2] can dramatically increase wheat yields in semi-arid environments and buffer against heat waves

PS:  don't tell the numbskulls at The Australian about that second one....

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