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Mar 17, 2014 12:18 PM EDT

Climate Change Could Reduce Crop Yields As Soon As 2030

Climate change may reduce crop yields as soon as 2030, according to a recent study BusinessWeek reported.

Researchers from the University of Leeds in the U.K., found that global warming of only 2 degrees Celsius will be detrimental to crops in temperate and tropical regions, with reduced yields of rice, maize and wheat from 2030s onwards.

"Our research shows that crop yields will be negatively affected by climate change much earlier than expected," Andy Challinor, lead author of the study, said in a statement. "Furthermore, the impact of climate change on crops will vary both from year-to-year and from place-to-place - with the variability becoming greater as the weather becomes increasingly erratic."

The study, recently published by the journal Nature Climate Change, feeds directly into the Working Group II report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Fifth Assessment Report, which is due to be published at the end of March 2014.

For the study, researchers created a new data set by combining and comparing results from 1,700 published assessments of the response that climate change will have on the yields of rice, maize and wheat.

"As more data have become available, we've seen a shift in consensus, telling us that the impacts of climate change in temperate regions will happen sooner rather than later," Challinor said.

Researchers said there will be an increasingly negative impact of climate change on crop yields from the 2030s onwards. The impact will be greatest in the second half of the century, when decreases of over 25 percent will become increasingly common.

"Climate change means a less predictable harvest, with different countries winning and losing in different years. The overall picture remains negative, and we are now starting to see how research can support adaptation by avoiding the worse impacts," Challinor said.

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