Little time for farmers to deal with rainfall changes from global warming, study says

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Already wet areas will see more rain and dry areas will get drier at a pace determined by emissions levels, researchers said in the journal “Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.”

These changes will happen regardless of action taken on climate change, but by curbing emissions, countries can buy time to adapt to new rainfall levels.

For this study, researchers looked at wheat, soybeans, rice and maize, crops that make up about 40 percent of the global caloric intake, under different emission scenarios.

“I think it’s worrying,” lead author Maisa Rojas, professor of climatology at the University of Chile told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.

“Even in the low-emission scenarios you see the time of emergence now or very soon.”

“Time of emergence” is the year a region’s normal fluctuations in rainfall shift dramatically.

Most of the crops consumed around the world are produced by rain fed-agriculture, according to the International Water Management Institute, a nonprofit science research organization.

About 60 percent of farmed land in South Asia and 95 percent in sub-Saharan Africa is rain dependent.

If the world meets the goals set out in the 2016 Paris Agreement to keep the global temperature rise to under 2 degrees Celsius, these regions will have 20 to 30 years to prepare and adapt farming practices.