corn field

Projecting how climate change will affect crop yields is an imprecise science. Traditional modeling methods produce varied results, offering little insight into how farmers should respond to climate change.

A team of researchers from MIT and the University of California at Davis believe they’ve devised a new methodology that produces more reliable, actionable results. Their study was recently published in Environmental Research Letters.

“Our work provides an alternative way to look at the fate of agriculture under climate change that provides information that’s more relevant to farmers than existing climate/crop models,” Erwan Monier, the study’s lead author and principal research scientist at the MIT Joint Program on the Science and Policy of Global Change, told MIT News.

The research team’s method is not meant to replace existing climate/crop model simulations but rather to supplement them with five relevant indicators of crop/climate interaction: dry days, plant heat stress, frost days, growing season length, and start of field operations.

Using their enhanced methodology, researchers ran simulations to estimate the potential effects of climate change on agriculture in the U.S. by 2100. Their findings suggest that aggressive greenhouse gas mitigation would prevent changes in any of the five indices from exceeding those that arise from natural year-to-year variations in the climate that we already experience.

Read more at MIT News.

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