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Observations of anthropogenic global warming

Papers on climate impact on world food supply

Posted by Ari Jokimäki on October 16, 2011

This is a list of papers on climate impact on world food supply. Emphasis is on global analysis. The list is not complete, and will most likely be updated in the future in order to make it more thorough and more representative.

I am proud to be taking part in Blog Action Day OCT 16 2011

Climate change, plant diseases and food security: an overview – Chakraborty & Newton (2011) “Global food production must increase by 50% to meet the projected demand of the world’s population by 2050. Meeting this difficult challenge will be made even harder if climate change melts portions of the Himalayan glaciers to affect 25% of world cereal production in Asia by influencing water availability. Pest and disease management has played its role in doubling food production in the last 40 years, but pathogens still claim 10–16% of the global harvest. We consider the effect of climate change on the many complex biological interactions affecting pests and pathogen impacts and how they might be manipulated to mitigate these effects. Integrated solutions and international co-ordination in their implementation are considered essential. Providing a background on key constraints to food security, this overview uses fusarium head blight as a case study to illustrate key influences of climate change on production and quality of wheat, outlines key links between plant diseases, climate change and food security, and highlights key disease management issues to be addressed in improving food security in a changing climate.” S. Chakraborty, A. C. Newton, Plant Pathology, Special Issue: Climate Change and Plant Diseases, Volume 60, Issue 1, pages 2–14, February 2011. [Full text]

Food Security: The Challenge of Feeding 9 Billion People – Godfray et al. (2010) “Continuing population and consumption growth will mean that the global demand for food will increase for at least another 40 years. Growing competition for land, water, and energy, in addition to the overexploitation of fisheries, will affect our ability to produce food, as will the urgent requirement to reduce the impact of the food system on the environment. The effects of climate change are a further threat. But the world can produce more food and can ensure that it is used more efficiently and equitably. A multifaceted and linked global strategy is needed to ensure sustainable and equitable food security, different components of which are explored here.” H. Charles J. Godfray, John R. Beddington, Ian R. Crute, Lawrence Haddad, David Lawrence, James F. Muir, Jules Pretty, Sherman Robinson, Sandy M. Thomas and Camilla Toulmin, Science 12 February 2010: Vol. 327 no. 5967 pp. 812-818, DOI: 10.1126/science.1185383. [Full text]

Food security and global environmental change: emerging challenges – Ericksen et al. (2009) “Most research linking global environmental change and food security focuses solely on agriculture: either the impact of climate change on agricultural production, or the impact of agriculture on the environment, e.g. on land use, greenhouse gas emissions, pollution and/or biodiversity. Important though food production is, many other factors also need to be considered to understand food security. A recent international conference on “Environmental Change and Food Security: Bridging Science, Policy and Development for Adaptation” included a range of papers that embraced the multiple dimensions of the food systems that underpin food security. The major conclusion from the conference was that technical fixes alone will not solve the food security challenge. Adapting to the additional threats to food security arising from major environmental changes requires an integrated food system approach, not just a focus on agricultural practices. Six key issues emerged for future research: (i) adapting food systems to global environmental change requires more than just technological solutions to increase agricultural yields; (ii) tradeoffs across multiple scales among food system outcomes are a pervasive feature of globalized food systems; (iii) within food systems, there are some key underexplored areas that are both sensitive to environmental change but also crucial to understanding its implications for food security and adaptation strategies; (iv) scenarios specifically designed to investigate the wider issues that underpin food security and the environmental consequences of different adaptation options are lacking; (v) price variability and volatility often threaten food security; and (vi) more attention needs to be paid to the governance of food systems.” Polly J. Ericksen, John S.I. Ingram, Diana M. Liverman, Environmental Science & Policy, Volume 12, Issue 4, June 2009, Pages 373-377, doi:10.1016/j.envsci.2009.04.007.

Historical Warnings of Future Food Insecurity with Unprecedented Seasonal Heat – Battisti & Naylor (2009) “Higher growing season temperatures can have dramatic impacts on agricultural productivity, farm incomes, and food security. We used observational data and output from 23 global climate models to show a high probability (>90%) that growing season temperatures in the tropics and subtropics by the end of the 21st century will exceed the most extreme seasonal temperatures recorded from 1900 to 2006. In temperate regions, the hottest seasons on record will represent the future norm in many locations. We used historical examples to illustrate the magnitude of damage to food systems caused by extreme seasonal heat and show that these short-run events could become long-term trends without sufficient investments in adaptation.” David. S. Battisti and Rosamond L. Naylor, Science 9 January 2009: Vol. 323 no. 5911 pp. 240-244, DOI: 10.1126/science.1164363.

Prioritizing Climate Change Adaptation Needs for Food Security in 2030 – Lobell et al. (2008) “Investments aimed at improving agricultural adaptation to climate change inevitably favor some crops and regions over others. An analysis of climate risks for crops in 12 food-insecure regions was conducted to identify adaptation priorities, based on statistical crop models and climate projections for 2030 from 20 general circulation models. Results indicate South Asia and Southern Africa as two regions that, without sufficient adaptation measures, will likely suffer negative impacts on several crops that are important to large food-insecure human populations. We also find that uncertainties vary widely by crop, and therefore priorities will depend on the risk attitudes of investment institutions.” David B. Lobell, Marshall B. Burke, Claudia Tebaldi, Michael D. Mastrandrea, Walter P. Falcon and Rosamond L. Naylor, Science 1 February 2008: Vol. 319 no. 5863 pp. 607-610, DOI: 10.1126/science.1152339. [Full text]

Food Security Under Climate Change – Brown & Funk (2008) “Food insecurity is likely to increase under climate change, unless early warning systems and development programs are used more effectively.” Molly E. Brown and Christopher C. Funk, Science 1 February 2008: Vol. 319 no. 5863 pp. 580-581, DOI: 10.1126/science.1154102.

Global food security under climate change – Schmidhuber & Tubiello (2007) “This article reviews the potential impacts of climate change on food security. It is found that of the four main elements of food security, i.e., availability, stability, utilization, and access, only the first is routinely addressed in simulation studies. To this end, published results indicate that the impacts of climate change are significant, however, with a wide projected range (between 5 million and 170 million additional people at risk of hunger by 2080) strongly depending on assumed socio-economic development. The likely impacts of climate change on the other important dimensions of food security are discussed qualitatively, indicating the potential for further negative impacts beyond those currently assessed with models. Finally, strengths and weaknesses of current assessment studies are discussed, suggesting improvements and proposing avenues for new analyses.” Josef Schmidhuber and Francesco N. Tubiello, PNAS December 11, 2007 vol. 104 no. 50 19703-19708, doi: 10.1073/pnas.0701976104. [Full text]

Climate change and food security – Gregory et al. (2005) “Dynamic interactions between and within the biogeophysical and human environments lead to the production, processing, distribution, preparation and consumption of food, resulting in food systems that underpin food security. Food systems encompass food availability (production, distribution and exchange), food access (affordability, allocation and preference) and food utilization (nutritional and societal values and safety), so that food security is, therefore, diminished when food systems are stressed. Such stresses may be induced by a range of factors in addition to climate change and/or other agents of environmental change (e.g. conflict, HIV/AIDS) and may be particularly severe when these factors act in combination. Urbanization and globalization are causing rapid changes to food systems. Climate change may affect food systems in several ways ranging from direct effects on crop production (e.g. changes in rainfall leading to drought or flooding, or warmer or cooler temperatures leading to changes in the length of growing season), to changes in markets, food prices and supply chain infrastructure. The relative importance of climate change for food security differs between regions. For example, in southern Africa, climate is among the most frequently cited drivers of food insecurity because it acts both as an underlying, ongoing issue and as a short-lived shock. The low ability to cope with shocks and to mitigate long-term stresses means that coping strategies that might be available in other regions are unavailable or inappropriate. In other regions, though, such as parts of the Indo-Gangetic Plain of India, other drivers, such as labour issues and the availability and quality of ground water for irrigation, rank higher than the direct effects of climate change as factors influencing food security. Because of the multiple socio-economic and bio-physical factors affecting food systems and hence food security, the capacity to adapt food systems to reduce their vulnerability to climate change is not uniform. Improved systems of food production, food distribution and economic access may all contribute to food systems adapted to cope with climate change, but in adopting such changes it will be important to ensure that they contribute to sustainability. Agriculture is a major contributor of the greenhouse gases methane (CH4) and nitrous oxide (N2O), so that regionally derived policies promoting adapted food systems need to mitigate further climate change.” P.J Gregory, J.S.I Ingram and M Brklacich, Phil. Trans. R. Soc. B 29 November 2005 vol. 360 no. 1463 2139-2148, doi: 10.1098/rstb.2005.1745. [Full text]

Climate change, global food supply and risk of hunger – Parry et al. (2005) “This paper reports the results of a series of research projects which have aimed to evaluate the implications of climate change for food production and risk of hunger. There are three sets of results: (a) for IS92a (previously described as a ‘business-as-usual’ climate scenario); (b) for stabilization scenarios at 550 and 750 ppm and (c) for Special Report on Emissions Scenarios (SRES). The main conclusions are: (i) the region of greatest risk is Africa; (ii) stabilization at 750 ppm avoids some but not most of the risk, while stabilization at 550 ppm avoids most of the risk and (iii) the impact of climate change on risk of hunger is influenced greatly by pathways of development. For example, a SRES B2 development pathway is characterized by much lower levels of risk than A2; and this is largely explained by differing levels of income and technology not by differing amounts of climate forcing.” Martin Parry, Cynthia Rosenzweig and Matthew Livermore, Phil. Trans. R. Soc. B 29 November 2005 vol. 360 no. 1463 2125-2138, doi: 10.1098/rstb.2005.1751. [Full text]

In addition to the 2 papers above, see also other papers in Philosophical Transactions B Discussion Meeting Issue ‘Food crops in a changing climate’

Effects of climate change on global food production under SRES emissions and socio-economic scenarios – Parry et al. (2004) “This paper analyses the global consequences to crop yields, production, and risk of hunger of linked socio-economic and climate scenarios. Potential impacts of climate change are estimated for climate change scenarios developed from the HadCM3 global climate model under the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change Special Report on Emissions Scenarios (SRES) A1FI, A2, B1, and B2. Projected changes in yield are calculated using transfer functions derived from crop model simulations with observed climate data and projected climate change scenarios. The basic linked system (BLS) is used to evaluate consequent changes in global cereal production, cereal prices and the number of people at risk from hunger. The crop yield results elucidate the complex regional patterns of projected climate variables, CO2 effects, and agricultural systems that contribute to aggregations of global crop production. The A1FI scenario, as expected with its large increase in global temperatures, exhibits the greatest decreases both regionally and globally in yields, especially by the 2080s. The contrast between the yield change in developed and developing countries is largest under the A2a–c scenarios. Under the B1 and B2 scenarios, developed and developing countries exhibit less contrast in crop yield changes, with the B2 future crop yield changes being slightly more favourable than those of the B1 scenario. When crop yield results are introduced to the BLS world food trade system model, the combined model and scenario experiments demonstrate that the world, for the most part, appears to be able to continue to feed itself under the SRES scenarios during the rest of this century. However, this outcome is achieved through production in the developed countries (which mostly benefit from climate change) compensating for declines projected, for the most part, for developing nations. While global production appears stable, regional differences in crop production are likely to grow stronger through time, leading to a significant polarisation of effects, with substantial increases in prices and risk of hunger amongst the poorer nations, especially under scenarios of greater inequality (A1FI and A2). The use of the SRES scenarios highlights several non-linearities in the world food supply system, both in the biophysical sense, where the levels of atmospheric CO2 tested reach new levels, and the socio-economic sense, where changes in population dynamics and economic and political structures complicate the translation of biophysical climate change impacts into social indices, such as the number of people at risk of hunger.” M.L Parry, C Rosenzweig, A Iglesias, M Livermore, G Fischer, Global Environmental Change, Volume 14, Issue 1, April 2004, Pages 53-67, doi:10.1016/j.gloenvcha.2003.10.008. [Full text]

Climate change and world food security: a new assessment – Parry et al. (1999) “Building on previous work quantitative estimates of climate change impacts on global food production have been made for the UK Hadley Centre’s HadCM2 greenhouse gas only ensemble experiment and the more recent HadCM3 experiment (Hulme et al., 1999). The consequences for world food prices and the number of people at risk of hunger as defined by the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO, 1988) have also been assessed. Climate change is expected to increase yields at high and mid-latitudes, and lead to decreases at lower latitudes. This pattern becomes more pronounced as time progresses. The food system may be expected to accommodate such regional variations at the global level, with production, prices and the risk of hunger being relatively unaffected by the additional stress of climate change. By the 2080s the additional number of people at risk of hunger due to climate change is about 80 million people (±10 million depending on which of the four HadCM2 ensemble members is selected). However, some regions (particularly the arid and sub-humid tropics) will be adversely affected. A particular example is Africa, which is expected to experience marked reductions in yield, decreases in production, and increases in the risk of hunger as a result of climate change. The continent can expect to have between 55 and 65 million extra people at risk of hunger by the 2080s under the HadCM2 climate scenario. Under the HadCM3 climate scenario the effect is even more severe, producing an estimated additional 70+ million people at risk of hunger in Africa.” Martin Parry, Cynthia Rosenzweig, Ana Iglesias, Günther Fischer, Matthew Livermore, Global Environmental Change, Volume 9, Supplement 1, October 1999, Pages S51-S67, doi:10.1016/S0959-3780(99)00018-7.

Potential impact of climate change on world food supply – Rosenzweig & Parry (1994) “A global assessment of the potential impact of climate change on world food supply suggests that doubling of the atmospheric carbon dioxide concentration will lead to only a small decrease in global crop production. But developing countries are likely to bear the brunt of the problem, and simulations of the effect of adaptive measures by farmers imply that these will do little to reduce the disparity between developed and developing countries.” Cynthia Rosenzweig & Martin L. Parry, Nature 367, 133 – 138 (13 January 1994); doi:10.1038/367133a0. [Full text]

Climate change and world food supply, demand and trade: Who benefits, who loses? – Fischer et al. (1994) “This paper summarizes the findings of a major interdisciplinary research effort by scientists in 25 countries. The study examined the potential biophysical responses of major food crops to changing atmospheric composition and climate, and projected potential socioeconomic consequences. In a first step crop models were used to estimate how changing climatic conditions might alter yields of major crops at a number of sites representing both major production areas and vulnerable regions at low, mid and high latitudes. Then a dynamic recursive national-level model of the world food system was used to assess socio-economic impacts for the period 1990 up to year 2060.” G. Fischer, K. Frohberg, M.L. Parry, C. Rosenzweig, Global Environmental Change, Volume 4, Issue 1, March 1994, Pages 7-23, doi:10.1016/0959-3780(94)90018-3.

12 Responses to “Papers on climate impact on world food supply”

  1. Thank you so much for this.
    The multiple adverse impacts of global warming and climate change on food crops is the greatest danger to the health and survival of huge human populations and for the future of humanity. I do hope you will develop the list more as it is so vital but there is so little emphasis on the fact that the world is in a food emergency right now from the committed global temperature increase today.
    I am just including this one as it has great US and global implications
    Nonlinear temperature effects indicate severe damages to U.S. crop …
    by W Schlenker – 2009 – Cited by 94 – Related articles
    15 Sep 2009 – Nonlinear temperature effects indicate severe damages to U.S. crop yields under climate change. Wolfram Schlenkera,1 and; Michael J. Robertsb.

  2. Jesús R. said

    Thanks for the new paper list!

    I read in Godfray et al and elsewhere that population growth is likely to plateau at 9 billion people by the middle of this century, but I don’t know where this informatin come from (a scientific paper reaching this conclusion), do you have any clue?

  3. Ari Jokimäki said

    Peter, I will develop the list and possibly publish new related lists in the future. This is a complex issue and deserves much attention. Population and wealth are growing and that makes the demand for food to increase considerably in the future. However, there’s not much new good farming land available, especially as there are other competitors for the land (bio-energy, for example). Furthermore, not only does the climate change make the food production more difficult, the increase of food production makes climate change worse, which then makes food production even more difficult.

    Jesús, I think the United Nations has the latest and best population estimates. See the bottom section of the linked page; it says world population reaches 10 billion in 2080’s, so the 9 billion plateau might be a bit outdated information. However, the population growth seems to slow down considerably in near future.

    By the way, here’s my Finnish contribution to the Blog Action Day (the article discusses the problematics I mentioned above in my reply to Peter). Reference section there has couple of papers not included here.

  4. Jesús R. said

    Thanks, Ari. I see they rather bet on the “medium fertility variant”, in which there’s a slow-down since ~2030 and a plateau at 10 billion people around 2070, but they reckon a great range of uncertainty with two other (high-fertility and low-fertility variant) scenarios.

    It seems that population growth is closely linked to the country’s wealth, and they expect developing countries to improve their situation and reach the rates of the developed world:

  5. Yes incredibly IPPC (technical report p 298) by making economic growth more important to food productivity than the multiple combined adverse impacts of global warming and climate change – gets far less world hunger as climate change gets worse this century!!

    ‘the magnitude of these climate impacts will be small
    compared with the impacts of socio-economic development
    (e.g., Tubiello et al., 2007b). With reference to Table 5.6, these
    studies suggest that economic growth and slowing population
    growth projected for the 21st century will, globally, significantly
    reduce the number of people at risk of hunger in 2080 from
    current levels. Specifically, compared with FAO estimates of
    820 million undernourished in developing countries today,
    Fischer et al. (2002a, 2005b) and Parry et al. (2004, 2005)
    estimate reductions by more than 75% by 2080, or by about 560-
    700 million people, thus projecting a global total of 100-240
    million undernourished by 2080 (A1, B1 and B2)

    Peter C

  6. Jesús R. said

    Thanks, Peter, I didn’t know that…

    I have gathered several links on the subject, some of them taken from this AGWObserver site (including the short summary). I haven’t checked whether they are already in the list above:

    Climate Change: Impact on Agriculture and Costs of Adaptation (International Food Policy Research Institute)

    J Challinor et al 2010. Increased crop failure due to climate change: assessing adaptation options using models and socio-economic data for wheat in China. Environ. Res. Lett

    Climate change has already decreased rice yield in India:
    Maximilian Auffhammer, V. Ramanathan and Jeffrey R. Vincent. Climate change, the monsoon, and rice yield in India. Climatic Change, DOI: 10.1007/s10584-011-0208-4

    Climate tipping point defined for US crop yields (NewScientist)

    Most of today’s crops have been carefully bred for traits that fit the present climate. According to modelling studies, climate change will start to negatively affect crop production by 2050. In southern Africa, for example, maize yields are predicted to fall by as much as 30 per cent if temperatures rise 1 °C (Science 319, 607–610; 2008). And with a 2 °C temperature rise, more than 80 per cent of the land area over most African nations would be climatically unsuitable for the crops now growing there (Glob. Environ. Change 19, 317–325; 2009). “That would be a food crisis,” says Cary Fowler, executive director of the Global Crop Diversity Trust. Fowler says it’s likely that farmers will have to adapt their agricultural practices by using analogous crops from other locations in the future.
    Confronting the biodiversity crisis (Nature reports climate change)

    Elevated CO2 has negative effect to wheat grain protein content:
    Pleijel & Uddling (2011). Yield vs. Quality trade-offs for wheat in response to carbon dioxide and ozone. Global Change Biology, DOI: 10.1111/j.1365-2486.2011.2489.x

    Agriculture is facing difficult times due to crop heat stress:
    Teixeira et al. (2011). Global hot-spots of heat stress on agricultural crops due to climate change.

    Since 1998, there have been increasing outbreaks of the viral disease Bluetongue among European livestock. Using a newly developed climate-based model that accurately predicts past outbreaks, researchers have provided evidence that climate change is a major driver of these outbreaks.
    Tha paper itself is Guis, H., Caminade, C., Calvete, C. et al. (2011) Modelling the effects of past and future climate change on the risk of bluetongue emergence in Europe. Journal of the Royal Society Interface. Doi: 10.1098/rsif.2011.0255.

  7. Population will plateau at 9 billion. Why is nobody working population to atop increasing now? Better facing the problems with 7 billion than with 9. 2] With less than 0,000000000000000001% of the data ESSENTIAL, nobody knows what is the temperature in the troposphere; nobody can honestly compare one unknown with another unknown. 3] sea is too alkaline and alkalinity is increasing. Before going below pH7, is not acidic. Needs the carbon from thousands of planets equal to earth’s CO2, to make it down to pH7,9 Lots of fancy talk (Sir Humphrey’s empty talk) doesn’t make it correct THE KING IS NAKED!!! . Real proofs can be proven all, now, no maybe, can happen… Unless the laws of physics are taken in consideration = is not science. Scaring the ignorant, BOO!

  8. Climate is in constant change – climate is essential to keep changing – is not a perfect climate now – would the climate stopped changing, if it wasn’t any industrial revolution – for climate to change is not needed any phony GLOBAL warming. Climate was changing 300-500y ago; with less cars, factories and much less electricity was used. Confusing the phony GLOBAL warming with constant climatic changes,,, will be considered in near future as the bigger astrophysics imposed by human than WW1 + WW2 combined, It’s all on record – ignoring the truth doesn’t make the truth to disappear. Have a nice day.

  9. Jesús R. said

    Come on, Stefan, stop boring us… Do you now what peer review is? Is something that would spare us from boring childish arguments like yours… Let’s see some of them in #7:

    “Before going below pH7, is not acidic.”

    Oh, I feel so relieved now thanks to that irrelevant fact… How about reading some FAQs?:

    The ocean is not acidic, and model projections say the oceans won’t ever become acidic. So why call it ocean acidification?

    Ocean acidification refers to the process of lowering the oceans’ pH (that is, increasing the concentration of hydrogen ions) by dissolving additional carbon dioxide in seawater from the atmosphere. The word “acidification” refers to lowering pH from any starting point to any end point on the pH scale. This term is used in many other scientific areas (including medicine and food science) to refer to the addition of an acid to a solution, regardless of the solution’s pH value. For example, even though seawater’s pH is greater than 7.0 (and therefore considered “basic” in terms of the pH scale), increasing atmospheric CO2 levels are still raising the ocean’s acidity and lowering its pH. In comparison, this language is similar to the words we use when we talk about temperature. If the air temperature moves from -40°C to -29°C (-40°F to -20°F), it is still cold, but we call it “warming.”
    J. Orr, C.L. Sabine, R. Key

    “Needs the carbon from thousands of planets equal to earth’s CO2, to make it down to pH7,9”

    Obviously, your arbitrarily chosen number doesn’t tell us anything at all about the imacts of the expected acidification. Appart from irrelevant, your claim is also false. Between 1751 and 1994 surface ocean pH is estimated to have decreased from approximately 8.25 to 8.14, and if we continue on the expected trajectory for fossil-fuel use and rising atmospheric CO2, pH is likely to drop by 0.3-0.4 units by the end of the 21st century and increase ocean hydrogen ion concentration (or acidity) by 100-150% above what it was in preindustrial times.

    By the way: only peer reviewed links are to be taken serously.

  10. Jesús R. said

    And how about #8, Stefan? Let’s translate your “argument”: climate has changed before without human intervention, therefore climate cannot change because of human intervention.

    Let me put a simpler example of your “reasoning”: there has been natural wildfires in the past, therefore humans cannot start a wildfire.

    Climate doesn’t change without a reason. And the cause of the change is something to be analysed for each specific change. Without human intervention the last 50 years would likely have seen cooling considering natural forcings alone.

  11. Ari Jokimäki said

    Subject here is climate impact on world’s food supply, so please keep the discussion focused on that, thank you.

  12. Ari Jokimäki said

    Stefanthedenier continued to post off-topic stuff containing insults and book advertising. I deleted his last two posts and from now on his posts go through moderation before being accepted.

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