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Focus on... Climate change

Without the presence of certain gases in the Earth's atmosphere, the world would be a very cold place. These natural gases, most importantly water vapour and carbon dioxide, prevent some of the sun's infrared radiation from escaping into space after reflecting off the earth's surface. This is the greenhouse effect. As concentrations of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases such as methane and nitrous oxide increase in the atmosphere, so does the amount of trapped solar radiation, resulting in a rise in global temperatures. This much is known, but many questions remain. How much is human activity contributing to global warming? What effects will global warming have on agriculture and food security? How accurately can we predict the consequences of global warming?

In this edition of New Agriculturist, we focus on climate change and report on some of the issues raised at the two-day conference Food Crops in a Changing Climate, organised by the UK Royal Society in April 2005.

Forecasting the weather: making sense of chaos

Forecasting the weather: making sense of chaos

Understanding the factors behind year to year variations in the weather is crucial, particularly for those that rely on seasonal rainfall. But, with global warming, will the science of forecasting the weather become more challenging as the climate gets more unpredictable?

Date published: July 2005

'GLAM'ming it up for crop forecasting

'GLAM'ming it up for crop forecasting

Linking weather forecasts and climate models to crop models is difficult but to bridge the differences in scale, scientists have developed the General Large Area crop Model (GLAM), a combined climate- and crop-forecasting system that can predict harvests in current and future climates.

Date published: July 2005

Home truths about global warming

Home truths about global warming

Global warming has been studied too long purely in terms of the big picture. Local drivers of climate change, many arising from agriculture, hit us where we live.

Date published: July 2005

About FACE on CO2

About FACE on CO2

Predictions of future crop yields based on field chamber experiments are overly optimistic, according to a new study testing the effect of gas concentrations on crops in the open air.

Date published: July 2005

Through the looking glass

Through the looking glass

Success in dealing with climate change will likely flow from development that alleviates poverty and combines strategies of mitigration and adaption.

Date published: July 2005

Climate change: China's capacity to cope

Climate change: China's capacity to cope

With average temperatures across China predicted to rise by 3-4ºC by the end of this century, yields of three staple crops are predicted to fall by over a third. The impact of climate change in China is expected to be considerable.

Date published: July 2005

Reading the weather where it is

Reading the weather where it is

Improving weather observation in Africa is fundamental to the continent's ability to cope with current weather variability. Tony C. Anuforom of the Nigerian Meteorological Agency, bemoans conditions hampering his country's 50-plus weather stations.

Date published: July 2005

Timely insurance against famine

Timely insurance against famine

Weather monitoring and forecasting promise to deliver food aid in time to save livelihoods as well as lives, especially if combined with acute hunger insurance.

Date published: July 2005

 

 

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