New research finds global warming could halve key crop harvests
Some of the most important crops risk substantial damage from rising temperatures.
To better assess how climate change caused by human greenhouse gas emissions will likely impact wheat, maize and soybean, an international team of scientists has run an unprecedentedly comprehensive set of computer simulations of US crop yields.
The simulations were shown to reproduce the observed strong reduction in past crop yields induced by high temperatures, thereby confirming that they capture one main mechanism for future projections.
The research found that without efficient emission reductions, yield losses of 20pc for wheat are possible by 2100
For every single day above 30°C, maize and soybean plants can lose about 5pc of their harvest.
The simulations have shown that the models capture how rather small heat increases beyond this threshold can result in abrupt and substantial yield losses.
Such temperatures will be more frequent under unabated climate change and can severely harm agricultural productivity.
Harvest losses from elevated temperatures of 20pc for wheat, 40pc for soybean and almost 50pc for maize, relative to non-elevated temperatures, can be expected at the end of our century without efficient emission reductions.