Extreme weather: 3 billion tons of world's cereal crops wiped out

February 10, 2016 3:46 PM |

Crop production lossIt’s not a surprise; we all know that extreme weather events have adverse impact on crop production. A recent study has just put it into figures. The study also aims to determine its cost in the future.

Accordingly, about a tenth of the total cereal crops have been wiped out due to droughts and heat waves between the years 1964 and 2007.The study also aims to determine its cost in the future.

Extreme heat waves and drought have dramatically reduced crop yields during the second half of the 20th century. In fact, climate change will continue to pose a serious threat to the world’s crop production in the coming decades.

Author of the study and a professor at the University of British Columbia, Navin Ramankutty has said that their study was based on two sets of data. Firstly, they took a crop area and noted down its yield and production data from the Food and Agriculture Organization. Secondly, they gathered about 2,800 weather disaster reports from the Emergency Events Database.

In the study, the authors looked at cereal crops, including maize, wheat and rice separately. All the three crops were found to be equally affected by droughts. Moreover, only maize had a significant impact from extreme heat events.

The study estimated that more than three billion tons of cereal crop production was hampered from 1964 to 2007 due to droughts and heat waves. Each and every event of drought or extreme heat reduces current cereal production by approximately 9 to 10 percent.

Looking at the present scenario, we can say that climate change will bring more events of extreme heat and droughts. Therefore, it is anticipated that in future there will even greater cereal production losses.

The agriculture sector of North America, Europe and Australia suffered the most from droughts. These continents suffered on average 19.9 percent production deficit as compared to 12.1 percent in Asia, 9.2 percent in Africa and no significant effect in Latin America and the Caribbean.

Originally published in Accuweather

Image credit - Mulugeta Ayene


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