Biotech Updates

Study Suggests Climate Change Impact on Agriculture is Underestimated

March 16, 2016

How climate change might affect the food supply for a growing population is a critical concern. A new study conducted by researchers from Brown and Tufts universities suggests that researchers have been overlooking how two key human responses to climate — how much land people choose to farm, and the number of crops they plant — will impact food production in the future.

The study focused on the Brazilian state of Mato Grosso, an emerging global breadbasket that as of 2013 supplied 10 percent of the world's soybeans. The researchers looked not only at crop yield, but also at year-to-year variation in crop area and double cropping. The team gathered imagery of the Mato Grosso region from NASA's MODIS satellite, which monitors land cover and land use all over the world. They found that cropland is identified as areas that turn green during the growing season, and then quickly become brown, after harvest. Two green-ups in the same growing season indicate the land is being double-cropped.

The study showed that temperature increases of 1 degree Celsius were associated with substantial decreases in both total crop area and double cropping. Those decreases accounted for 70 percent of the overall loss in production found in the study. Only the remaining 30 percent was attributable to crop yield.

For more information, read the news release from Brown University.