by Julian Ramirez-Villegas
I consider myself a young researcher, with plenty of years left in me to solve some of the problems society faces in terms of climate change. But it is a little disconcerting when I discover that I’ll be retired by the time global climate models are of sufficient quality to plug directly into agricultural models. At least that is the finding of a recent article I lead authored, "Implications of regional improvement in global climate models for agricultural impact research".
The study took the latest global climate projections from CMIP5, those which are the basis for the forthcoming 5th Assessment Report of the IPCC, and examined how they have improved since the last version (CMIP3) which went into the 4th Assessment report back in 2007. 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 Eleanor Milne
At last year’s Forest Day, it seemed that there was one word on everybody’s lips: ‘landscapes’. We heard it in conversations, in presentations, even the event itself was held under the theme of ‘Living Landscapes’, representing a new collaboration between Forest Day and Agriculture, Landscapes and Livelihoods Day. A collaboration which explores the relation between forests, farming and people; which recognizes that every landscape is a patch-work of different land covers; and that these land covers interact with and impact on each other. It is an idea which understands that if we are to simultaneously address climate change, save forests and feed people, a landscape approach at a landscape-scale is needed.
However, conducting landscape-scale measurements and modeling has proved particularly difficult in developing countries. Read more »
by Alexa Jay and Amor Ines
Crop yield predictions made during the growing season are relevant to many agricultural and food security decisions, including food safety net and relief programs, agricultural insurance, and management of agricultural inputs and credit supplies. The CGIAR Research Program on Climate Change, Agriculture, and Food Security (CCAFS) Theme 2: Adaptation Through Managing Climate Risk supports advances in crop forecasting in service of its goal to enhance the resilience of rural livelihoods and food systems to climate-related risk.
A joint CCAFS Theme 2 project between the International Research Institute for Climate and Society at Columbia University (IRI) and NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) is investigating the use of satellite data to improve the accuracy of crop yield forecasting. Promising results in homogenous, large-scale farming environments indicate that incorporation of remotely sensed information on vegetation cover and soil moisture into crop models can reduce errors in yield predictions. 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 »
By Catherine Mungai, Maren Radeny and Caity Peterson
Fifty-five year old Rosalia Shemdoe feels empowered. She lives and works in Yamba village in the Lushoto district of northern Tanzania, but she just got back from what could be the longest journey she’s ever taken – one that ended in Mbinga, a district over 1,000 km away.
Rosalia, a single mother to six and grandmother to five, has been having a difficult time providing food and income for her family, a problem she attributes to unpredictable weather patterns and reduced productivity of her land. Her problem is urgent – how to provide food for her family in the days to come? – but she knows that thinking long-term is important too if her farm is to continue to support her and her family in the coming decades. Imagining such a future is no easy task, however. Talks and presentations, scientific data, and complicated maps and figures are all just about as much use as a crystal ball to a practical farmer with concrete questions. Rosalia needs to see what the scientists are talking about. Maybe then she can devise a way to prepare for the changes in store.
par Sonja Vermeulen
Dix à vingt ans c’est le délai typiquement nécessaire à la conception et la mise en œuvre de la plupart des interventions essentielles à l'agriculture: le développement de nouvelles variétés de cultures, les infrastructures d’irrigation ou de stockage d’eau à l’échelle de bassins versants, ou encore l'implantation et création de nouveau grands centres de traitement. La bonne conception de n’importe laquelle de ces interventions dépend d’une bonne connaissance du climat attendu une fois qu'elles seront en place et en fonctionnement. Les planificateurs et décideurs ont besoin d’avoir, à une ou deux décennies d'avance, des prévisions météorologiques locales fiables pour des variables clés telles que la variabilité interannuelle des précipitations ou la durée de la saison de croissance. Read more »
by Sonja Vermeulen
Ten to twenty years is the typical timeframe for designing and implementing many of the interventions most critical to agriculture: new crop varieties, or catchment-wide infrastructure for irrigation and water storage, or siting and establishment of major new processing hubs. Good design of any of these depends on knowing what the climate will be like once they are up and running. What planners and policy-makers need are reliable local forecasts, for a decade or two ahead, of key variables such as inter-annual variability in rainfall, or length of the growing season.
The bad news is that impatient end-users are likely to wait some years before “good-enough” decadal forecasts are available for most regions. Read more »
How good are current climate models for predicting agricultural impacts in Africa and South Asia?
Join us to learn about recent trends, current projections, crop-climate suitability, and prospects for improved climate model information.
Mark your calendars!
Date: 21 February 2012
Time: 14:30 - 15:30 Central European Time. [Convert time zone]
Soon-to-be-released studies assess the performance of climate models in representing the current and future climate of East Africa, West Africa and South Asia, with a particular emphasis on the models’ ability to assess impacts of climate change on the major crops currently grown in each region.
The studies, coordinated by the CGIAR Research Program on Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security (CCAFS), investigated the the ability of General Circulation Models (GCMs) to reproduce already observed climates, in order to establish the reliability of future climate projections, as well as projections of how associated crops might grow under future conditions.
Professor Richard Washington (University of Oxford) and Professor Mark New (University of Cape Town) will discuss recent trends, current projections, crop-climate suitability, and prospects for improved climate model information over the next 10 years, and answer questions from viewers.
In order to adequately adapt agriculture to a changing climate, scientists need good estimates of how much food we can grow in a warming world. But many of the current crop-climate models are out of date and have significant information gaps. In a new commentary "Crop-climate models need an overhaul" in the July issue of Nature Climate Change, published online 19 June, 2011, researchers argue for an overhaul of crop-climate models. They point out that many current models do not incorporate the latest knowledge about how crops respond to a changing climate, nor do they represent modern crop varieties and management practices.The CGIAR Climate Program is changing this. 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)