Quantcast

Half a Degree of Warming Makes a Big Difference to Global Food Security, Study Finds

Climate
A Brazilian crosses the bottom of the Rio Negro during a 2010 drought. Amazon flow could drop 25 percent in a 2°C warmer world. Franklin Oliveira / Flickr

A study published Monday indicates that it makes a big difference to global food security whether signatories to the Paris agreement are able to keep global temperature to 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels, or allow it to rise a full two degrees.


The study, published in Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society A, focused on how different warming scenarios would impact food security in 122 developing countries. The research team, led by the University of Exeter with participation from the Rossby Center in Sweden, Cranfield University, the Technical University of Crete, the Met Office, and the European Commission, found that limiting warming to 1.5°C would lead to relatively less food insecurity in 76 percent of the countries studied. Two degrees of warming would cause unprecedented levels of food insecurity in four countries: Oman, Bangladesh, Mauritania and Yemen.

To assess food insecurity, the researchers examined how climate change is projected to increase either drought or rainfall in various regions.

"Such weather extremes can increase vulnerability to food insecurity," study author and University of Exeter professor Richard Betts said in a university press release.

To obtain their results, the researchers used a new atmospheric circulation model based on sea ice and sea-surface temperatures.

In addition to its projections on global food security, the study also has important implications for regional river systems.

The study found that the flow of the Ganges could more than double if warming increases by two degrees. Floods that last more than four days are expected to increase in India and Bangladesh especially.

On the other extreme, the flow of the Amazon could decrease by 25 percent in a two-degree-warmer world.

Wet weather will increase globally, though Asia will be more impacted by extreme rainfall, and South America and Africa will be more impacted by drought.

The study also found that a 0.5°C temperature difference overall could lead to much higher temperature differences in some regions. For example, a 2°C increase in global temperature would lead to maximum daily temperatures five degrees higher in parts of Europe, while 1.5°C of global temperature rise would only increase maximum temperatures by three to four degrees in the same area.

This isn't the first study to indicate the impact that an extra five degrees of warming could have on the earth. A study published in Nature Climate Change in 2017 focused on the difference half a degree can make by looking at extensive climate changes in the past half-century when average temperatures rose by one degree.

However, if we want to limit warming to 1.5°C, we have to act quickly. A draft of an Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change paper said that meeting the target was "extremely unlikely" unless we make a radical shift away from fossil fuels by 2040, DW reported in January.

EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

Rhodiola rosea is an adaptogenic herb that can help with chronic fatigue and stress-related burnout. Tero Laakso / Flickr

By Gavin Van De Walle, MS, RD

While everyone has specific life stressors, factors related to job pressure, money, health, and relationships tend to be the most common.

Stress can be acute or chronic and lead to fatigue, headaches, upset stomach, nervousness, and irritability or anger.

Read More Show Less
A video shows a woman rescuing a koala from Australia's wildfires. VOA News / YouTube screenshot

More than 350 koalas may have died in the wildfires raging near the Australian town of Port Macquarie in New South Wales, but one got a chance at survival after a woman risked her life to carry him to safety.

Read More Show Less
Sponsored
American bison roaming Badlands National park, South Dakota. Prisma / Dukas / Universal Images Group / Getty Images

By Clay Bolt

On Oct. 11 people around the world celebrated the release of four plains bison onto a snow-covered butte in Badlands National Park, South Dakota.

Read More Show Less
An EPA sponsored cleanup of the toxic Gowanus Canal dredges a section of the canal of industrial debris on Oct. 28, 2016 in Brooklyn. The Gowanus is a Superfund site from years of industrial waste spilling into the water, and it is listed in GAO's report to be at risk from a climate disaster. Andrew Lichtenstein / Corbis / Getty Images

The climate crisis has put at least 945 designated toxic waste sites at severe risk of disaster from escalating wildfires, floods, rising seas and other climate-related disasters, according to a new study from the non-partisan Government Accountability Office (GAO), as the AP reported.

Read More Show Less
(L) Selma Three Stone Engagement Ring. (R) The Greener Diamond Farm Project. MiaDonna

By Bailey Hopp

If you had to choose a diamond for your engagement ring from below or above the ground, which would you pick … and why would you pick it? This is the main question consumers are facing when picking out their diamond engagement ring today. With a dramatic increase in demand for conflict-free lab-grown diamonds, the diamond industry is shifting right before our eyes.

Read More Show Less