POST Online Media Lite Edition


Global crops harvests cut thanks to weather disasters

Staff writer |
Drought and extreme heat slashed global cereal harvests between 1964 and 2007 and the impact of these weather disasters was greatest in North America, Europe and Australasia.

Article continues below

This is according to a study published in Nature led by UBC and McGill University researchers.

At a time when global warming is projected to produce more extreme weather, the study provides the most comprehensive look yet at the influence of such events on crop area, yields and production around the world.

"We have always known that extreme weather causes crop production losses," said senior author Navin Ramankutty of UBC's Liu Institute for Global Issues and the Institute for Resources, Environment and Sustainability.

"But until now we did not know exactly how much global production was lost to such extreme weather events, and how they varied by different regions of the world."

The researchers analyzed national production data from the UN's Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) for 16 cereals in 177 countries. They also examined 2,800 international weather disasters from 1964 to 2007.

Findings indicated that cereal harvests decreased by nine percent to 10 percent on average due to droughts and extreme heat. The impact from droughts also grew larger in more recent years.

Production levels in North America, Europe and Australasia dropped by an average of 19.9 percent because of droughts - roughly double the global average.

What to read next

Dutch crops grown on 'Mars' soil safe to eat
Climate triggered immigration to America
ESA scientists to grow crops in space