According to predictions made at the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) on 12 February, a repeat of the 1930’s ‘dustbowl’ drought today could lead to huge losses in corn and soya.
The potential losses would be even greater later in the century if the climate heats up as expected.
According to a BBC report on the meeting, a repeat of 1930’s weather today would cause losses in corn production of 40%.
If the world’s climate increased by two degrees, the reduction in corn production would be 65%.
Joshua Elliott from the University of Chicago’s Computation Institute, said that corn and soya are so sensitive to rising temperatures that an average year by the middle of this century could be as bad as 1936 (the worst drought year in the dustbowl), even if precipitation remained normal.
“A drought like that, if it were to hit today, would be unprecedented,” Elliott said, adding that this would result in harvest failures for both soya and corn.
A UK-US taskforce led by Tim Benton looked at extreme weather and food system resilience and found that the risk of a one-in-100 years food shock is likely to jump to one-in-30 years by as soon as 2040.