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Historical Warnings of Future Food Insecurity with Unprecedented Seasonal Heat

Science  09 Jan 2009:
Vol. 323, Issue 5911, pp. 240-244
DOI: 10.1126/science.1164363

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Abstract

Higher growing season temperatures can have dramatic impacts on agricultural productivity, farm incomes, and food security. We used observational data and output from 23 global climate models to show a high probability (>90%) that growing season temperatures in the tropics and subtropics by the end of the 21st century will exceed the most extreme seasonal temperatures recorded from 1900 to 2006. In temperate regions, the hottest seasons on record will represent the future norm in many locations. We used historical examples to illustrate the magnitude of damage to food systems caused by extreme seasonal heat and show that these short-run events could become long-term trends without sufficient investments in adaptation.

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