In a new study, researchers, including at least one from the University of Arkansas, found that unless steps are taken to mitigate climate change, up to 60 percent of current wheat-growing areas worldwide could see simultaneous, severe and prolonged droughts by the end of the century.
Wheat is the world’s largest rain-fed crop in terms of harvested area and supplies about 20 percent of all calories consumed.
The risk of widespread drought in wheat production areas is four times the level scientists see today, Song Feng, associate professor of geosciences at the University of Arkansas and the second author on the study published in the journal Science Advances. Such droughts would be a shock to the food production system.
“If only one country or region sees a drought there is less impact. But if multiple regions are affected simultaneously, it can affect global production and food prices, and lead to food insecurity,” he said.
For the study, Feng and colleagues analyzed 27 climate models, each of which had three different scenarios. Terabytes of information were studied and it took a couple of months, he said.