The impact of climate change on agriculture may be greater than expected

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Farmer and tractor in field Image downloaded by anonymous anonymous at 16:38 on the 28/03/16

 In the context of a growing global population, the effects of climate change on food supply becomes a critical topic. The new study by researchers from Brown and Tufts universities  published in  Nature Climate Change analyzing the relation between variations in temperature and precipitation over an eight-year period in the agricultural region of Mato Grosso, a key agricultural region in Brazil, and a decrease in agricultural production. The broader implications of the study derive from considering not only the direct impact of factors such as variations in temperature or precipitation and the amount of product harvested from a given unit of agricultural land, but also the socio-economical repercussions of climate change resulting in a further decrease of production.

 According to the study, if the patterns of this eight-year period persisted, an increase in average temperature of the region of one degree Celsius would result in a reduction of overall production of soy and corn between nine and thirteen percent.

 This study has raised awareness on variables often overlooked, such as the reaction of the farmers to climate shocks. For example, the reduction of land area put into production as a result of decrease in profitability, or the increase in double cropping-the planting of two successive crops in the same field in the same growing season. The study showed that temperature increases of 1 degree Celsius were associated with substantial decreases in both total crop area and double cropping.

 Taken together, the results suggest that traditional studies “may be underestimating the magnitude of the link between climate and agricultural production,” says Cohn, one of the authors of the report.

Posted by Tsubomi.J

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