By Robert Mitchum
Shortages of freshwater used for irrigation may double the detrimental effects of climate change on agriculture, according to a new analysis that combines climate, agricultural, and hydrological models.
Researchers say a warmer world may have severe consequences for global agriculture and food supply, reducing yields of major crops even as population and demand increases.
Given the present trajectory of greenhouse gas emissions, agricultural models estimate that climate change will directly reduce food production from maize, soybeans, wheat, and rice by as much as 43 percent by the end of the 21st century.
But hydrological models looking at the effect of warming climate on freshwater supplies project further agricultural losses, due to the reversion of 20 to 60 million hectares of currently irrigated fields back to rain-fed crops.
“It’s a huge effect, and an effect that’s basically on the same order of magnitude as the direct effect of climate change,” says Joshua Elliott, a research scientist with the Computation Institute’s Center for Robust Decision Making on Climate and Energy Policy (RDCEP), Argonne National Laboratory, and lead author of the paper.
“So the effect of limited irrigation availability in some regions could end up doubling the effect of climate change.”…
Continue Reading at Futurity…