By Philip Thornton
Since becoming available in June 2011, the on-line and stand-alone versions of the MarkSim GCM stochastic weather generator tool have been widely tested. A few problems were found, which have now been corrected. Both versions of the tool can be used to generate daily data that are characteristic of current conditions, based on the WorldClim dataset, an interpolated surface of weather station data from around the world mostly covering the years 1960-1990.
One version of the tool can be accessed here, in a Google Earth user interface. An alternative version of the tool, which can be run via user-written scripts or calling programmes can be accessed here, along with detailed documentation. Read more »
by Vanessa Meadu
Agriculture is fundamental to many Central Asian countries' economies, but climate change brings uncertainties and potential threats to this important sector. Some studies have looked at how climate change may impact the national economies, but until recently, little has been known about how these climate threats play out where they potentially matter most: in a farmer's pocket.
According to Aden Aw-Hassan, a researcher at the International Center for Agricultural Research in the Dry Areas (ICARDA), the answer may be found through a bio-economic modelling approach that brings together downscaled climate change projections and price/yield data, with household surveys and crop experiment data. Read more »
by Vanessa Meadu
Small-scale subsistence farmers need good adaptation strategies so they can cope with climate change. Researchers have tried and tested a range of climate-smart tools and approaches, but the range of options can be baffling. Identifying the right adaptation strategy for a particular farming community means testing potential adaptation strategies against a number of variables, such as the the current the socio-economic scenarios of farmers and the expected impacts of climate change
Lieven Claessens, a researcher at the International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT), is leading the way in developing approaches for studying adaptation options. As part of the CGIAR Research Program on Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security (CCAFS), Lieven has been participating in the Agricultural Model Improvement and Intercomparison Project (AGMIP), and he presented results from East Africa at the recent Global Science Conference on Climate Smart Agriculture. Read more »
By Piet van Asten
In February, Wageningen University (WUR) was the host of a CGIAR event that shed light on trade-offs in agricultural systems. These trade-offs arise as we strive to achieve greater food security while also dealing with an increasing population, limited resources, a changing climate, and environmental degradation.
The workshop was aimed at understanding system dynamics, tipping points and shocks, and the resulting trade-offs and synergies across temporal and spatial scales. During the workshop, some 30 scientists currently engaged in different CGIAR research programs came together to share lessons learned from their experiences working with the tools available for assessing these trade-offs.
Researchers also discussed how to challenge underlying assumptions and expected outcomes, with Ken Giller, professor of Plant Production Systems at WUR, posing the question: can research really lift people out of poverty or can we at best hope to reduce hunger? “We should often be talking more about alleviating hunger rather than lifting farmers out of poverty,” he said.
By An Notenbaert and Stanley Karanja Ng'ang'a
At a household level, a number of factors influence the nature and degree of people’s vulnerability to the climate change. A new study by CCAFS amongst agro-pastoralist households in Mozambique has analyzed a variety of indicators normally used in vulnerability assessments to measure the influence of these vulnerability variables on coping capacity within a changing climate. The study gives us more certainty about the influence that some of these variables have on coping capacity. For instance, income diversification, increasing access to infrastructure and saving, seemed to promote adaptation and are also widely applicable.
By Steffen Fritz and Linda See
One of the main challenges of this coming century is to ensure food security from land that is increasingly under pressure from a rapidly increasing population, biofuel expansion and changing diets, among many things. In a climate characterized by major increases in food prices and continued market volatility, we need better information on the global status and dynamics of agricultural land use in order to make good policy, investment and logistical decisions.
This information is relevant not only to food security but also to the future of energy and environmental change in modelling scenarios of the future. The main source of cropland extent at a global scale is land cover products but research has shown that these products have large spatial disagreements in the cropland domain when compared with one another. The uncertainty is as high as 20 per cent of the total area. Although remote sensing technologies are improving all the time, we need a solution to this problem - now. Read more »
By Helena Wright
Farmers in Bangladesh have to adapt their livelihoods both to a changing environment and to changing markets. Our recent working paper "Understanding Adaptive Capacity: Sustainable Livelihoods and Food Security in Coastal Bangladesh" analysed the results of survey data from 980 households in coastal Bangladesh. It was found that there were high levels of food insecurity, with 15 per cent of households reporting they faced food shortages for over half the year.
Market and economic reasons were more often given as reasons for changing agricultural practices than climate-related factors. 54 per cent of households gave yield and price as reasons for changing crops. Climate-related factors were also frequently mentioned. 25 per cent of households mentioned higher soil salinity and around 20 per cent pointed to increasing cyclones and floods.
Insights from the Sustainable Livelihoods Approach Read more »
by Mark Van Wijk
For a full understanding of how climate change will impact farms and farm household food security, we need models that can combine predictions for climate change, with variables relating to food security, adaptation and mitigation.
A team of researchers based at the International Livestock Research Center (ILRI) systematically reviewed the scientific literature to evaluate how suitable existing farm and farm household simulation models are to study aspects of food security. The study was done under the CGIAR Research Program on Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security (CCAFS) which aims to better understand and predict possibilities for adaptation to climate change, improved management of production risks and improved mitigation of greenhouse gasses like carbon dioxide, nitrous oxide and methane. Read more »
The headlines this week scream about the monster storm that struck the east coast of the United States this week. Dozens of people perished, more than 7 million people lost power, more than 16,000 airplane flights have been cancelled, the subway systems in New York and Washington DC were flooded, and the New York Stock Exchange shut down for the first time since 1888.
But hundreds of miles inland, the Midwest farms of the U.S. are still starved for water after a horrid summer and fall of drought, and the question of how agriculture needs to change with the climate has finally been accepted by many whose livelihoods are tied to their crops. And thousands of miles away, farmers in developing countries are facing similar, and graver challenges, as climate change threatens staple tropical crops and the ecosystems that sustain them. In regions which are prone to food insecurity, such as sub-Saharan Africa, this could spell disaster.
A new policy brief by the CGIAR Research Program on Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security (CCAFS) outlines the challenges required in feeding the estimated 9-10 billion people who will live in this world by 2050. In the brief, the need for a complete recalibration of what we grow around the world is detailed, as climate change will bring challenges in weather, water use, and even increased crop pests and diseases. Read more »
by Joana Roque de Pinho
East African pastoralists have historically coped with seasonal and annual climatic variability. However, as climatic changes are intensifying in the region, their livestock-dependent livelihoods are ever more vulnerable to increasingly frequent droughts and other extreme events. Read more »
CCAFS Coordinating Unit - University of Copenhagen, Faculty of Science, Department of Plant and Environmental Sciences, Rolighedsvej 21, DK-1958 Frederiksberg C, Denmark, phone +45 35331046; Email ccafs [at] cgiar [dot] org, EAN 5790000279012
Lead Center - International Center for Tropical Agriculture (CIAT)