Drought-related cereal production losses are increasing by more than three per cent a year across the EU and UK, according to research.
The manuscript, called Severity of drought and heatwave crop losses tripled over the last five decades in Europe, has been published by Environmental Research Letters.
Lead author Teresa Bras is from the Nova School of Science and Technology in Lisbon.
“The new weather disaster record for crop impact analysis shows climate change is driving increasing crop losses,” it says.
The report looked at crop losses associated with droughts, heatwaves, floods and cold waves between 1964 and 2015. It found the impact on crop production has tripled over the last 50 years.
The report’s authors note that extreme weather disasters can jeopardise domestic food supply and disrupt commodity markets.
They combined observational agricultural data (FAOSTAT) with an extreme weather disaster database (EM-DAT) between 1961 and 2018 to evaluate European crop production responses to extremes weather disasters.
Yields declined, with no significant changes in harvested area. All four event frequencies significantly increased over time. The severity of heatwave and drought impacts on crop production roughly tripled over the last 50 years, from –2.2 (1964-1990) to -7.3% (1991-2015).
The authors say the frequency and severity “can possibly” be explained by underlying climate change impacts.