Many countries could face increasing risk of food shortages as more weather extremes are expected to be caused by climate change, according to a new study released Monday by the University of Exeter.
The team, led by the University, looked at 122 developing and least-developed countries, mostly in Asia, Africa and South America, and examined how climate change could affect the vulnerability of different countries to food insecurity.
The study showed that despite increased vulnerability to food insecurity in both scenarios, meaning global warming of 1.5 degrees Celsius and two degrees Celsius compared to pre-industrial levels, the effects would be worse for most countries at two degrees Celsius.
Climate change is expected to lead to more extremes of both heavy rainfall and drought, with different effects in different parts of the world, said Professor Richard Betts, Chair in Climate Impacts at the University of Exeter. "Such weather extremes can increase vulnerability to food insecurity."
Warming is expected to lead to wetter conditions on average, with floods putting food production at risk, but agriculture could also be harmed by more frequent and prolonged droughts in some areas, according to the study which has been published in the journal Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society A.
Wetter conditions are expected to have the biggest impact in South and East Asia, with the most extreme projections suggesting the flow of the River Ganges could more than double at two degrees Celsius global warming.
"Some change is already unavoidable, but if global warming is limited to 1.5 degrees Celsius, this vulnerability is projected to remain smaller than at two degrees Celsius in approximately 76 percent of developing countries," said Professor Betts.