Cereals in Danger Due to Drought

Cereals in Danger Due to Drought
Cereals Endangered by Drought - Credit: Pixabay/CC0 Public Domain

Grain crops may be endangered by extreme heat and drought, according to a new study. Global warming is changing seasonal patterns, increasing the frequency of extreme weather events such as intense droughts and heatwaves, which can have an impact on crop harvesting and food supply. Wheat-producing regions of the US and China are now much more likely to experience high temperatures that could reduce crop production, according to a new study led by a researcher from Tufts University's Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy.

Heat waves, which occurred approximately every hundred years in 1981, are now estimated to occur every six years in the midwest of the United States and every sixteen years in northeastern China, according to the study.

Although they have not yet occurred, this study demonstrates the diversity of situations in which individuals must be prepared.

Erin Coughlan de Perez, Dignitas Associate Professor at the Friedman School and lead author of the paper, noted that “the historical record is no longer a good indicator of what we can expect in the future.” The article was published June 2 in the journal npj Climate and Atmospheric Science. People tend to underestimate the possibility of extreme disasters happening today due to the changing climate we live in.

The latest report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change states that the average global surface temperature has increased by 1850 degrees Celsius over the past decade compared to the period between 1900 and 1,1.

Coughlan de Perez and colleagues collected multiple seasonal forecasts from the previous 40 years to assess how this affects our likelihood of being exposed to extreme weather.

Using this community, they created hundreds of different temperature and precipitation scenarios, basically describing every potential scenario that could occur in a given year. Using this technique, also known as the Unprecedented Simulated high Ensemble approach or UNSEEN methodology, the researchers were able to determine the expected frequency of high temperatures exceeding significant growth limits for wheat.

Winter wheat crops begin to grow in the fall and are harvested the following summer. The growth of wheat can be affected by high temperatures during the plant's flowering period in spring.

Heat stress begins to affect plants at temperatures above 27,8 degrees Celsius or about 82 degrees Fahrenheit. Important wheat enzymes begin to degrade at temperatures above 32,8 degrees Celsius or 91 degrees Fahrenheit.

"We'd have seasons in the Midwest where we'd see an average of four or five days when this enzyme degradation threshold was exceeded—that was pretty rare," said Coughlan de Perez, who is also affiliated with the Friedman School's Feinstein International Center. However, our research has uncovered potential scenarios for the current climate that could go beyond this threshold by 15 days, which we believe will be extremely harmful.

According to Coughlan de Perez, record-breaking temperatures are often accompanied by record-breaking drought. The combination of these two hazards can negatively affect the growing season. The United States and China are considered global breadbaskets, or regions that produce a significant portion of the world's grains. If these crops fail at the same time or at the same time as other staple crops, food prices and supply can be significantly affected.

The findings show that both regions have been lucky lately. Weather is a random element; Various outcomes are possible, such as when you roll a six-sided dice. These regions have so far experienced relatively few and colder than expected temperatures. However, due to climate change, the peak number is now higher than before. These regions may not be prepared for this because they have not seen all imaginable.

“I hope we can inform people that their destinies have changed. Coughlan de Perez added: “You can make something pretty ridiculous. “Maybe you won't hit an eight for a while, but I think it's good to make some plans for when something like this happens.”

The researchers also discovered patterns in regional and global air circulation that could result in extremely hot and dry conditions, including the worst-case scenario where wheat production in both China and the United States was badly affected in the same season. The researchers' findings can help plan for climate adaptation in these regions and ensure stakeholders are prepared for impending extraordinary events.

“I believe we have an imagination gap when it comes to climate change. According to Coughlan de Perez, we cannot be prepared for them if we do not imagine the extremes that may occur. “We don't need to be shocked. Using the resources we have, we can try to grasp what's possible so we can be prepared if it does happen.

Source: phys.org/news – Potential for surprising heat and drought events in wheat-producing regions of USA and China., npj Climate and Atmospheric Science (2023)

📩 02/06/2023 13:57