Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Environmental Research Letters, 5 (January-March 2010) 014010; doi: 10.1088/1748-9326/5/1/014010

Robust negative impacts of climate change on African agriculture

Wolfram Schlenker1 and David B Lobell2,*

1 Department of Economics and School of International and Public Affairs, Columbia University, New York, NY 10027, USA

2 Department of Environmental Earth System Science and Program on Food Security and the Environment, Stanford University, Stanford, CA 94305, USA

Received 1 May 2009; accepted 27 January 2010; published 10 February 2010.


There is widespread interest in the impacts of climate change on agriculture in Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA), and on the most effective investments to assist adaptation to these changes, yet the scientific basis for estimating production risks and prioritizing investments has been quite limited. Here we show that by combining historical crop production and weather data into a panel analysis, a robust model of yield response to climate change emerges for several key African crops. By mid-century, the mean estimates of aggregate production changes in SSA under our preferred model specification are –22, –17, –17, –18, and –8% for maize, sorghum, millet, groundnut, and cassava, respectively. In all cases except cassava, there is a 95% probability that damages exceed 7%, and a 5% probability that they exceed 27%. Moreover, countries with the highest average yields have the largest projected yield losses, suggesting that well-fertilized modern seed varieties are more susceptible to heat related losses.

Full open-access paper at this link:

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