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Warming climate threatens crops

Climate change could result in decreasing yields of staple food crops in most parts of the world from the 2030s onwards.

Andrew Challinor at the University of Leeds, UK, and his team compared the results of more than 1,700 simulations of climate change impacts — with and without various adaptation strategies — on annual wheat, rice and maize (corn) yields. The data suggest that, without adaptation, average food-crop supplies will decline by around 5% per degree Celsius of warming.

Losses of wheat in temperate climates and rice in tropical environments can be avoided, or even reversed, by changing factors such as crop varieties, planting time, fertilizer use and irrigation. But such adaptation measures may provide little or no benefit for maize yields, particularly in tropical regions, the authors warn.

Nature Clim. Change (2014)

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Warming climate threatens crops. Nature 507, 277 (2014).

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