U.S. Crop Yields Could Wilt in Heat

Aug 24, 2009 by Mick Kulikowski

(PhysOrg.com) -- Yields of three of the most important crops produced in the United States - corn, soybeans and cotton - are predicted to fall off a cliff if temperatures rise due to climate change.

In a paper published online this week in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, North Carolina State University agriculture and resource economist Dr. Michael Roberts and Dr. Wolfram Schlenker, an assistant professor of economics at Columbia University, predict that U.S. crop yields could decrease by 30 to 46 percent over the next century under slow global warming scenarios, and by a devastating 63 to 82 percent under the most rapid global warming scenarios. The warming scenarios used in the study - called Hadley III models - were devised by the United Kingdom's service.

The study shows that crop yields tick up gradually between roughly 10 and 30 degrees Celsius, or about 50 to 86 degrees Farenheit. But when temperature levels go over 29 degrees Celsius (84.2 degrees Farenheit) for corn, 30 degrees Celsius (86 degrees Farenheit) for soybeans and 32 degrees Celsius (89.6 degrees Farenheit) for cotton, yields fall steeply.

"While crop yields depend on a variety of factors, extreme heat is the best predictor of yields," Roberts says. "There hasn't been much research on what happens to crop yields over certain temperature thresholds, but this study shows that temperature extremes are not good."

Roberts adds that while the study examined only U.S. crop yields under warming scenarios, the crop commodity market's global reach makes the implications important for the entire world, as the United States produces 41 percent of the world's corn and 38 percent of the world's soybeans.

"Effects of climate change on U.S. will surely be felt around the globe, especially in developing countries," he says.

More information: "Nonlinear temperature effects indicate severe damages to U.S. under climate change" Wolfram Schlenker, Columbia University and Michael Roberts, North Carolina State University; Published: Aug. 24, 2009, in the online version of .

Source: North Carolina State University (news : web)

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User comments : 5

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mongander
3 / 5 (2) Aug 24, 2009
Just when is all this heat supposed to kick in? It's been generally cooler here in central Arkansas for the past 8 or 9 years. My current natural gas bill states that this 30 day period vs a year ago is 5 degrees cooler.
Nartoon
2.3 / 5 (3) Aug 25, 2009
If, might, may, could, possibly.

And how much will U.S. crop yields increase with additional CO2 and no temperature rises as demonstrated by the past 12 years?
Velanarris
5 / 5 (1) Aug 25, 2009
Yields of three of the most important crops produced in the United States - corn, soybeans and cotton - are predicted to fall off a cliff if temperatures rise due to climate change.

They're down this year due to excessive rain and cold weather.

Great article....
Chey
1 / 5 (2) Aug 25, 2009
The only thing causing "wilting heat" here is the steaming pile that this article is.
Duude
1 / 5 (2) Aug 26, 2009
I agree, the only thing hot here is the hot air coming from Mick Kulikowski's mouth. This is more of the same tactic that has been used for years. Facts don't matter as long as you continue repeating the same rhetoric. This how some believe science is established.

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