Monday, October 19, 2009

How could climate change affect farming in Europe?

Belle Dumé in environmentalresearchweb: Climate change will affect how much water is available in the future and have an important impact on agricultural practices around the world. Now researchers at the UK Met Office have analysed how farming will change in northern and southern Europe as temperatures rise.

Properly managing land and water resources as the global climate changes will be crucial for sustaining agriculture in the future. For example, we will need reliable information on how climate change will affect water availability around the world so that we can effectively adapt to conditions like drought over the next few decades.

Pete Falloon and Richard Betts of the Met Office Hadley Centre focused their study on how future climate change will affect agriculture in the north and south of Europe. The researchers say that the gap between the two regions in terms of water availability will widen as the planet warms. Today, water is more plentiful in northern Europe than in the south. As a consequence, agriculture is generally more productive in the north too. This situation will become more pronounced.

Warming will result in crop suitability zones moving northwards and farmers will likely produce more in these regions compared with the south, where there might be declined productivity. Although water resources will become even more plentiful in the north, earlier snow melt in some parts of northern Europe could cause earlier spring water runoff, leading to water shortages in the summer. Some scientists also believe that both northern and southern Europe could experience an increase in extreme rainfall events and drought, so additional risks to agriculture might come about through increased flood hazards over the entire continent…

A handsome barn in the park of Langes Tannen in Germany, shot by Uwe Barghaan, Wikimedia Commons, under the Creative Commons Attribution ShareAlike 3.0 License

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