Climate change, extreme weather conditions to kill corn in several parts of the world

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) warned in August that the world was heading towards dangerous consequences of climate change that will affect lives and livelihoods globally. A new report outlines how food supplies will be impacted as the planet experiences extreme weather events.

Led by Nasa, the study hints at the growing risks of crop failures and wildfires, as well as other dangers to society as the world experiences an increase in heat waves, drought and excessive rainfall. The study indicates that by the year 2100, the risk to maize crops in at least three of the world’s six major maize-growing regions will double.

Published in the journal Environmental Research Letters, the findings put the U.S. Midwest at the highest risk of being the site of one of these multiple crop failures. Researchers examined the breadbasket regions of central North America, northeastern Brazil, southern South America, central Europe, eastern Asia and South Asia, which account for around 55% of world maize production.

The report found that “extreme heat events occurring on three or more consecutive days are increasing in frequency by 100% to 300%, and consecutive extreme rain events are increasing in most regions, nearly doubling for some.” Climatologists have been working for years to understand and numerically represent these complex chains of interacting events in climate models.

Farmers spread the harvested maize crop for drying on the outskirts of Bangalore. (Photo: AFP)

Colin Raymond, a scientist at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, led the study which focused on how the increased clustering of temperature and precipitation related risks will affect corn. Model simulations showed that by 2100, extreme global heat waves lasting at least three days will occur two to four times more often than today. Extreme three-day rainfall events will typically increase by 10-50% in frequency.

“It’s only been in the last five years or so that a framework has been developed to apply compound risk thinking to climate analysis in a way that you can actually calculate without putting yourself desperately over the top. out of your head,” Colin Raymond said in a statement.

The researchers examined how all of these changes combined could affect future maize harvests, using the relationship between climatic extremes in heat and rainfall and past crop failures as a guide.

“According to their best estimate, the probability that a group of events will cause corn crops to fail in at least three of the world’s breadbaskets in the same year will almost double, from 29% to 57%, d ‘here is the year 2100,’ NASA said. adding that the likelihood of crops failing in the five largest breadbasket regions in a single year will increase even more significantly, from 0.6% to 5.4%.

Teresa H. Sadler