Knowledge for Development

Climate change

ACP countries consume very little fossil fuel but bear the brunt of the consequences of huge emissions of greenhouse gasses by industrialized countries. They suffer the most adverse effects due to their inability to respond adequately to projected climate changes caused by these emissions. This dossier investigates the consequences of climate change in ACP countries and explores S&T strategies for agricultural and rural development required to mitigate them.

This news report by IPS shows how drastic changes in the weather of Trinidad and Tobago affect root crops, and how the farmers who grow them, are suffering from delayed and scarce but heavier rain. Root crops under these weather conditions grow more slowly but fields of cowpea are destroyed. While hindering the development of winged insect pest, the changes in rain intensity render pesticide application almost useless. Even more worrying is the proliferation of fungus and bacteria. Solutions exist though: better soil management offers a quick fix, but on the longer term, the region must do better to collect, preserve and improve the local germplasm so as to develop deter adapted crops.     (IPS, 23/09/2013) 05/11/2013
Climate scientists at CIAT, the CCAFS, ILRI and the University of Leeds, UK have assessed 50 different climate simulations using two products of the Coupled Model Intercomparison Project (CMIP) to understand what kind of useful information can be extracted to better predict the impact of climate change on future crop yields. The research estimates that at least 5–30 years of CMIP work is required to improve regional temperature simulations and at least 30–50 years for precipitation simulations, for these to be directly  input into regional impact models. Further research is needed on impact-relevant variables (e.g. dry-spell frequency, incoming  shortwave radiation, evapotranspiration, soil moisture), as well as on the effects of the differences between models in impact  estimates.    (Environ. Res. Lett. 8 024018, 2013) 05/11/2013
A three week long training and workshop, organized by the UN Development Programme and others, through its ‘South-South Cooperation between Pacific and Caribbean Small Islands Developing States (SIDS) on Climate Change Adaptation and Disaster Risk Management’, covered the processes involved in agro-meteorology and provided weather specialists and agriculture officers with knowledge, tools and skills to interpret the impact of changing weather patterns on crop and livestock production. The workshop participants identified climate and crop data gaps that existed in their countries and pointed out that this would impact on the implementation of agro-meteorology. It provided the participants with an opportunity to map the next steps in building stronger agro-meteorology services in their countries. (Pacific Island News Association, 20/5/2011) 07/06/2011
Research by scientists at The University of Manchester and Lancaster shows maintaining healthy soil biodiversity can play an important role in optimising land  management programmes in the face of climate change. The study shows that there is a strong link between soil organisms and the overall functioning of  ecosystems. This is the first time researchers have looked at the entire community of organisms in the soil and the associated dynamics in liberating nitrogen for  plant growth and locking up carbon. The findings will help in predicting how land use and climate change will impact on ecosystems and looking at ways to minimise  negative changes.    (, 12/08/2013)    20/09/2013
The damage scientists expect climate change to do to crop yields can differ greatly depending on which type of model was used to make those projections,  according to research based at Princeton University. Empirical models are built by finding the relationship between observed crop yields and historical environmental  conditions, while mechanistic models are built on the physiological understanding of how the plant grows and reproduces in response to a range of conditions.  Empirical models are simpler and require fewer inputs, are a staple in studying the possible effects of climate change on ecological systems where the data and  knowledge about most species are largely unavailable. Mechanistic models are more common in studying agriculture because there is a much greater wealth of data  and knowledge that have accumulated over several thousand years of agricultural development. Using both model classes lets researchers identify each class'  biases and correct for it. Each model has different strengths and weaknesses that can be complementary when combined.     (Science Daily, 14/08/2013)    20/09/2013

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