Climate Change Impacts Crops, Research Says

New research conducted by Tufts University reveals that climate change is significantly impacting crops yields in the United States and China. Wheat-growing regions in both countries are experiencing an alarming increase in extreme weather events, including severe droughts and heat waves. These conditions, influenced by global warming in climate change, lead to shifts in seasonal patterns and have adverse effects on crops productivity and food supplies.

The study, led by a researcher from Tufts University’s Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy, indicates that what used to be a heat wave occurring once every hundred years in 1981 now happens approximately every six years in the Midwestern US and every 16 years in Northeast China. These findings underscore the urgent need for preparedness in the face of climate change. The historical record is no longer a reliable indicator of future events, as climate change has introduced unprecedented possibilities for extreme weather events.

According to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, the average global surface temperature over the past decade was 1.1 degrees Celsius higher than the period between 1850 and 1900. To assess the increased risk of extreme weather, researchers employed the Unprecedented Simulated Extreme Ensemble (UNSEEN) approach, using decades of seasonal forecasts. This enabled them to estimate the frequency of extreme temperatures surpassing the critical threshold for wheat growth.

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The study focused on the impact of high temperatures on winter wheat, which starts growing in fall and is harvested the following summer. Explain that spring temperatures, particularly during the flowering stage, can significantly affect wheat development. When temperatures exceed 27.8 degrees Celsius, the plant experiences heat stress, and above 32.8 degrees Celsius , crucial enzymes in the wheat start breaking down.

The combination of record-breaking heat and drought poses a severe threat to the growing season. The United States and China are major global grain producers, and if their crops fail simultaneously, it could have dire consequences for food prices and availability worldwide. The research highlights the need for climate change adaptation plans and emphasizes the importance of stakeholders preparing for and mitigating the impact of unprecedented weather events.

Source : NatGeo Indonesia

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