Climate change has likely already affected global food production

Deepak Ray, Paul C. West, Michael Clark, James S. Gerber, Alexander V. Prishchepov, Singdhansu B Chatterjee

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

95 Scopus citations

Abstract

Crop yields are projected to decrease under future climate conditions, and recent research suggests that yields have already been impacted. However, current impacts on a diversity of crops subnationally and implications for food security remains unclear. Here, we constructed linear regression relationships using weather and reported crop data to assess the potential impact of observed climate change on the yields of the top ten global crops–barley, cassava, maize, oil palm, rapeseed, rice, sorghum, soybean, sugarcane and wheat at ~20,000 political units. We find that the impact of global climate change on yields of different crops from climate trends ranged from -13.4% (oil palm) to 3.5% (soybean). Our results show that impacts are mostly negative in Europe, Southern Africa and Australia but generally positive in Latin America. Impacts in Asia and Northern and Central America are mixed. This has likely led to ~1% average reduction (-3.5 X 1013 kcal/year) in consumable food calories in these ten crops. In nearly half of food insecure countries, estimated caloric availability decreased. Our results suggest that climate change has already affected global food production.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere0217148
JournalPloS one
Volume14
Issue number5
DOIs
StatePublished - May 2019

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
DKR, PCW and JSG were partially supported by funding from the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation and the Belmont Forum/FACCE-JPI funded DEVIL project (NE/M021327/1), and the Institute on the Environment. MC was supported by the Wellcome Trust, Our Planet Our Health (Livestock, Environment and People - LEAP), award number 205212/Z/16/Z. SC was partially supported by the National Science Foundation (NSF) grants DMS-1622483 and DMS-1737918. The funders had no role in study design, data collection or analysis, decision to publish, or preparation of the manuscript. The Global Landscapes Initiative team and others at the Institute on the Environment provided valuable feedback throughout the research and writing process. DKR, PCW and JSG were partially supported by funding from the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation and the Belmont Forum/FACCE-JPI funded DEVIL project (NE/M021327/1), and the Institute on the Environment. MC was supported by the Wellcome Trust, Our Planet Our Health (Livestock, Environment and People—LEAP), award number 205212/Z/16/Z. SC was partially supported by the National Science Foundation (NSF) grants DMS-1622483 and DMS-1737918. The funders had no role in study design, data collection or analysis, decision to publish, or preparation of the manuscript. We thank the three anonymous reviewers whose constructive comments and suggestions led to further improvement in the manuscript.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2019 Ray et al. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.

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