What impact will future climate change have on food supply? That depends in part on the extent to which variations in crop yield are attributable to variations in climate. A new report from researchers at the University of Minnesota Institute on the Environment has found that climate variability historically accounts for one-third of yield variability for maize, rice, wheat and soybeans worldwide -- the equivalent of 36 million metric tons of food each year. This provides valuable information planners and policy makers can use to target efforts to stabilize farmer income and food supply and so boost food security in a warming world.
The research team is now looking at historical records to see whether the variability attributable to climate has changed over time -- and if so, what aspects of climate are most pertinent.
"Yield variability can be a big problem from both economic and food supply standpoints," Ray said. "The results of this study and our follow-up work can be used to improve food system stability around the world by identifying hot spots of food insecurity today as well as those likely to be exacerbated by climate change in the future."
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