A study in the scientific journal Ecological Research Letters examining the sensitivity of food systems to climate change found that crop losses in Europe had tripled in the last 50 years due to extremely hot weather and drought.
The study, which included 27 European Union (EU) member countries and the United Kingdom, examined agricultural production data between 1961 and 2018. Comparing these data with extreme weather events such as droughts, hot waves, floods and arctic cold, it became clear that climate change has led to crop losses.
According to the report, they show “continuous more losses” compared to other products due to drought and extreme heat waves, with losses exceeding 3 percent each drought year.
Researchers say this can also be explained by wider irrigation of products such as fruits, vegetables and grapes.
Climate change is expected to exacerbate extreme weather events, and this “fluctuation effect” in Europe will also affect the global food system and food prices.
CLIMATE CHANGE AFFECTS FOOD PRODUCTION
The study noted that the extreme heat wave and drought in Europe in 2018 caused an 8 percent decline in grain production compared to the average of the last five years. This situation is said to have “led to a shortage of fodder in livestock and a sharp rise in commodity prices.”
The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) has noted that food production is “very sensitive” to climate change. Since the Paris Climate Agreement signed in 2015, the hottest five years of history have taken place globally.
According to a recent study published in the journal Nature Geoscience, the drought in Europe is the worst drought in the region in 2110 and has intensified since 2015.
Although all these extreme weather events had a partial effect, the impact of drought and hot weather on crop production was found to triple. Therefore, crop losses, which were 2.2 percent in 1964, rose to 7.3 percent in the 1990s.
Stressing that drought is more frequent and more severe, the study said, “the most severe events are relatively exacerbated.”
THE SEAS ARE MOST AFFECTED
Teresa Bras of the Nova School of Science and Technology in Lisbon, who said Europe’s crop yields had increased by a total of 150 per cent, said losses in extreme weather were due to the crop.
“Cereals, which make up 65 percent of the EU’s arable land and are mainly used as animal feed, were the most affected crop,” Bras said.