For every degree Celsius rise in temperature, the world stands to lose six percent of its wheat crop, finds a global study.
Lead researcher Senthold Asseng from University of Florida used a computer model approach to reach the finding of temperature increases and wheat production.
“The simulations with the multi-crop models showed that warming is already slowing yield gains at a majority of wheat-growing locations across the globe,” said Asseng, professor of agricultural and biological engineering.
Global food production needs to grow 60 percent by 2050 to meet the projected demand from an anticipated population of more than nine billion people.
“That is a huge agricultural challenge, complicated by temperature increases due to climate change,” Asseng said.
Asseng led a group of 50 scientists from 15 countries who devised an ensemble of computer models to increase the accuracy of their predictions.
They worked with 30 wheat crop models and tested them against field experiments.
In those experiments, average season temperatures ranged from 15 to 32 degrees Celsius.
In the past 100 years, global temperatures have risen by more than 0.6 degree and are projected to increase by two to four degrees Celsius by the end of the century, according to the International Panel on Climate Change.
“New heat-tolerant wheat cultivars and crop management are needed to counteract the projected yield decline and crop models will play a major role in developing new research strategies for that,” Asseng said.
The study was published online in the journal Nature Climate Change.