Warmer Arctic harms crops in US, Canada: study

July 10, 2017 by Marlowe Hood
Warmer-than-average years in the Arctic can lead to harsh winters in the upper reaches of Europe and North America, and diminished rainfall in the southern part of the United States

Exceptionally warm years in the Arctic have provoked extra-cold winters and springs further to the south, decreasing crop yields across central Canada and the United States, researchers said Monday.

"Our study demonstrates for the first time an apparent linkage between Arctic temperature variations and agricultural productivity in mid-latitudes," they reported in the journal Nature Geoscience.

Overall, global warming during the last half-century has boosted plant growth in temperate and boreal zones.

Forests and other vegetation help absorb carbon dioxide, a greenhouse gas released into the atmosphere mainly by burning fossil fuels.

But that fringe benefit in the fight against climate change can be undercut when especially hot weather hits the ice-covered Arctic, where surface temperatures have risen more than twice as fast as for the planet as a whole.

The study confirms recent research showing that warmer-than-average in the Arctic over the last three decades can lead to harsh winters in the upper reaches of Europe and North America, and diminished rainfall in the southern part of the United States.

During these Arctic hot spells, more autumn sea ice melts than usual, affecting atmospheric circulation so that more cold air descends from the north in winter.

When this extends into spring, plants—including food crops—are vulnerable to damage and stunted growth.

Harsh winter weather also decreases the capacity to take up CO2, which plants absorb during photosynthesis.

Photo of NASA's Operation IceBridge, which has been studying how polar ice has evolved over the past nine years in the Arctic Ocean

Silver lining

Over the last 30 years, excessively warm Arctic spells prevented from absorbing nearly 370 million tonnes of CO2, about the same amount France or Australia emit in a year, the researchers estimated.

Led by Jin-Soo Kim, a team of scientists connected the dots by analysing sea-surface temperature records for the Bering Sea, which lies between Siberia and Alaska, and through computer modelling.

Years with higher Arctic temperatures correlated strongly with unusual air flow patterns over Alaska that resulted in "substantial cooling" over most of North America, as well as drier weather in the south.

In these years, the capacity of plant life in temperate zones to absorb CO2 declined by about 14 percent, and in affected parts of North America fell by one to four percent, the study showed.

"Irrigation could be used in water-limited regions to counter the drying effects, but spring frost may be harder to manage after sowing, and may impose heavy losses," Ana Bastos, a researcher at the Climate and Environment Sciences Laboratory near Paris, said in a comment, also in Nature Geoscience.

The negative impact of Arctic weather did have a silver lining, she added.

"The results may allow farmers to anticipate spring and manage their crops accordingly."

Polar ice experts predict that the Arctic could see its first ice-free summer within a couple of decades.

Explore further: Declining Arctic sea ice influences European weather—but isn't a cause of colder winters

More information: Jin-Soo Kim et al. Reduced North American terrestrial primary productivity linked to anomalous Arctic warming, Nature Geoscience (2017). DOI: 10.1038/ngeo2986

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14 comments

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SamB
2.2 / 5 (10) Jul 10, 2017
Funny how nothing good comes of Global Warming, eh?.. Always doom and gloom. :(
MR166
1.8 / 5 (10) Jul 10, 2017
"Over the last 30 years, excessively warm Arctic spells prevented plants from absorbing nearly 370 million tonnes of CO2, about the same amount France or Australia emit in a year, the researchers estimated."

Oh come on! Co2 has greened up the planet. Even lands that were once desert are now growing plants.

This paper is a prime example of eco-babel and highlights the corruption inside the climate establishment.
MR166
1.8 / 5 (10) Jul 10, 2017
If anyone really cares look up US farm production over the last 30 years and then try to tell me that C02 is reducing crop yields.
Parsec
4.1 / 5 (9) Jul 10, 2017
"If anyone really cares look up US farm production over the last 30 years and then try to tell me that C02 is reducing crop yields."

I suggest that anti-science posts at a site in which a large number of the readers have a high degree of scientific literacy is counterproductive. Science has always had its share of crackpots, in whose company you seem to relish.
EmceeSquared
3.9 / 5 (8) Jul 11, 2017
MR166:
Oh come on! Co2 has greened up the planet. Even lands that were once desert are now growing plants.


Staple your mouth and nose shut and enjoy that nourishing CO2, you lunatic.
dlethe
2.1 / 5 (11) Jul 11, 2017
Now that is just stupid. You can grow more crops in more places with warmer weather. They only looked at one side of the equation.
antigoracle
2 / 5 (8) Jul 11, 2017
More pathological bullshit from the AGW Cult
MR166
1.7 / 5 (6) Jul 11, 2017
"They only looked at one side of the equation."

Even that side of the equation is highly questionable. How can they possibly separate climate from weather over a 30 year period. Also, a warmer arctic causing cooling in the lower latitudes is pure conjecture.
MR166
1.7 / 5 (6) Jul 11, 2017
"The study confirms recent research showing that warmer-than-average years in the Arctic over the last three decades can lead to harsh winters in the upper reaches of Europe and North America, and diminished rainfall in the southern part of the United States."

I agree that wind patterns can shift temperatures in the upper NH. Whenever there is a so called polar vortex creating a drop in temperatures in one area the temperature of the pole must increase since total heat remains the same. That is pretty much self evident and not really worthy of a paper since the total heat involved does not change. Now if the heat leaving the earth increased by a large amount, yes the arctic would warm but so would the entire upper NH.
EmceeSquared
4.2 / 5 (5) Jul 11, 2017
dlethe:
Now that is just stupid. You can grow more crops in more places with warmer weather. They only looked at one side of the equation.


No, they looked at the other sides too. You're the one who looks at only the tiny part you can disagree with, and act like you're equal. Shut up already.
EmceeSquared
4.2 / 5 (5) Jul 11, 2017
MR166:
Even that side of the equation is highly questionable. How can they possibly separate climate from weather over a 30 year period. Also, a warmer arctic causing cooling in the lower latitudes is pure conjecture.


1. They did:
http://dx.doi.org...ngeo2986]http://dx.doi.org...ngeo2986[/url]

2. It's not:
http://dx.doi.org...ngeo2986]http://dx.doi.org...ngeo2986[/url]

3. You don't even read the papers you lie about. Shut up, troll.
bschott
2.3 / 5 (3) Jul 11, 2017
If anyone really cares look up US farm production over the last 30 years and then try to tell me that C02 is reducing crop yields.

I did, production has risen steadily with yearly non CO2 driven fluctuations...but the line is a steady climb.
I suggest that anti-science posts at a site in which a large number of the readers have a high degree of scientific literacy is counterproductive. Science has always had its share of crackpots, in whose company you seem to relish

Probably should have actually checked the yields before posting something this stupid. You just made yourself the guy you are commenting about...well done!

EmceeSquared
5 / 5 (3) Jul 11, 2017
bschott:
I did, production has risen steadily with yearly non CO2 driven fluctuations...but the line is a steady climb.


No. There are factors increasing yields *despite* Arctic warming, mainly increased industrial farming techniques, though there are also some trends against industrial farming that also increased yields. There is also the Arctic warming factor that these actual scientists studied and determined are, as their factor, decreasing yields. The actual science says the Arctic warming is causing decreases.

Yours is the same fallacy that climate change deniers use all the time, like when there are local cooling trends so you say "there's no global warming". The thickening Greenhouse is one factor that can sometimes be overwhelmed by other factors to allow cooling or just plateauing - like the ocean absorbing heat.

You know all that, but you continue lying. You're lying to hasten the destruction of civilization. Shut up with your lies already.
SteveS
5 / 5 (3) Jul 11, 2017
production has risen steadily with yearly non CO2 driven fluctuations.


You do know that you should have been looking for correlations between productivity and arctic temperatures don't you? You appear to have compared it to fluctuations in CO2.

You could do it again, checking all the relevant data, recording your methodology and results, and then submitting it to a panel of your peers, but why bother when these people have already done that.

https://www.natur...986.html

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