The effects of climate change on wheat production

14 October 20192 min reading

Namık Kemal PARLAK Editor

We’re facing the biggest environmental challenge our species has ever seen. Unprecedented floods, droughts, heatwaves, wildfires, and superstorms all over the world are the face of climate change. It is disrupting national economies and affecting lives, costing people, communities, and countries dearly today. And climate change is expected to have extremely striking results. A research announced last month once again showed us that a quick and determined response to this threat is needed. In their study published in the journal Science Advances, researchers from several institutions including IIASA, the Global Change Research Institute in the Czech Republic, and the University of Arkansas in the US, developed a method to simultaneously quantify severe water shortages across the world’s entire wheat-growing area and calculate the probabilities of multiple or sequential severe water shortage events for baseline and future climates. Their projections show that, without climate change mitigation, up to 60% of the current wheat-growing area will face simultaneous severe water shortage events by the end of this century, compared to 15% today. In other words, droughts caused by global warming could devastate up to 60% of the world’s wheat fields by the end of the century, causing food shortages and instability. Even if the world manages to limit warming to 2 degrees Celsius, the negative effects would still double between 2041 and 2070, the report said.“If only one country or region experiences a drought there is less impact. If multiple regions are however affected simultaneously, it can affect global production and food prices, and lead to food insecurity,” explain study lead authors Miroslav Trnka, a professor at Mendel University and senior scientist at the Global Change Research Institute. The world must prepare for “unprecedented” shocks to the production of the crop, a staple food in many countries, climate scientist said.

Given the world’s dependence on wheat to provide for our daily nutritional needs, an increase in the severity and frequency of droughts in wheat producing areas presents a significant risk in terms of food insecurity.

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