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Global Wheat Yield May Drop as Temperatures Rise

Jan 16, 2015 06:06 PM EST
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As if they haven't heard enough bad news already, researchers are now letting farmers know that the world's wheat yields are excepted decline in the near future, with the world standing to lose six percent of its wheat crop for every degree Celsius that the annual global temperature increases.

That's at least according to a study recently published in the journal Nature Climate Change, which details how expected wheal loss could total up to one fourth of the annual global wheat trade, which reached 147 million tons in 2013.

"The simulations with the multi-crop models showed that warming is already slowing yield gains, despite observed yield increases in the past, at a majority of wheat-growing locations across the globe," researcher Senthold Asseng, at the University of Florida, explained in a statement.

These current results are the result of an international polling of models and efforts, is part of the global Agricultural Model Intercomparison and Improvement Project (AgMIP). By combining resources, climatologists and agricultural experts found that they could predict the impact of warmer temperatures on wheat yield, which accounts for a fifth of all the calories consumed globally each year.

"We started this with wheat," he added, "as wheat is one of the world's most important food crops."

Unfortunately, it was recently revealed that the world is in the midst of a very clear warming trend, where elevated carbon levels and natural temperature anomalies are causing more record breaking hot years and fewer cold years within the last few decades. In fact, 2014 was recently confirmed to be the hottest year ever recorded, while scientific modeling has indicated that we haven't seen a record breaking cold year in more than a century. Worse, the world has already gained 0.27 degrees Celsius in net annual temperature since 1981. (Scroll to read on...)

Experts have previously found that climate change will likely create more useable farmland, which is great news for the agricultural world, but they also indicated that all the crops commonly grown on these lands would start experiencing fewer harvests.

And regions hit by climate change and extreme weather the hardest, such as the Middle East and Africa, are already reporting crop yield declines. India, for instance, produced one million metric tons more wheat in 2013 than it did in 2014.

Worse, experts agree that food production needs to grow 60 percent by 2050 to meet the projected demand from an anticipated population of more than nine billion people.

Asseng and his colleagues suggests that new crop management and heat-tolerant wheat cultivars will be needed To ensure that the agriculture industry can support those numbers.

For more great nature science stories and general news, please visit our sister site, Headlines and Global News (HNGN).

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