The impacts of extreme weather events on global agricultural yields
In summer 2018, Europe experienced a record-breaking heat wave and drought, leading to widespread harvest failures and risks of bankruptcy for farmers. At the same time, south-east Australia suffers from one of its most severe droughts on record, threatening the livelihoods of grain farmers and livestock managers. Climate extreme events, such as droughts, heat waves, cold spells or heavy precipitation events, are projected to increase under climate change in many regions worldwide. Understanding the effect of such events on crop yields is crucial to predict the response of agricultural production to climate extremes and inform adaptation processes. This talk examines the effect of temperature and precipitation extremes on the yields of four major crops — maize, rice, soybeans, and wheat, using a global, high-resolution yield dataset and global, gridded data on past weather conditions and climate extremes. By applying a range of novel statistical methods, this presentation investigates the complex interactions between changes in climate conditions during the growing season and yield fluctuations, and identifies most influential climate factors for predicting crop yield anomalies.
Elisabeth completed her PhD at the Australian-German Climate and Energy College, researching the effects of climate extreme events on global agriculture. Prior to coming to Melbourne, Elisabeth completed a degree in Environmental Science and Engineering at the Technical University of Berlin, with specialisations in agriculture, soil science and ecological modelling. She held various research and consulting positions, including with the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impacts Research, the Leibniz Centre for Agricultural Landscape Research and the United Nations Environment Programme. Elisabeth's research interests are centred on the effects of climate change and climate extreme events on ecosystems and agriculture, and the sustainable management of natural resources in view of global climatic and demographic change.
PhD Project: Extreme weather events and extreme impacts – using climate impact models for the prediction of multi-sectoral extreme events.
This PhD project will explore the use of climate impact models for the prediction of sector-specific impacts of weather events. More specifically, it will use model output data created within ISI-MIP2 (the global Intersectoral Impacts Model Intercomparison Project, Phase 2) to derive relationships between large scale oscillation indices (e.g. ENSO, NAO, IOD) and seasonal forecasts of weather-related impacts for current climate conditions. This project will focus on the agricultural sector, which is the main livelihood source of a large fraction of the population in many developing countries and impacts are directly linked to the food security of these population groups. However, the transferal of the methodology to other sectors (e.g. health, water) will be explored.
Supervisors: A/Prof. Malte Meinshausen, Prof. David Karoly
German Supervisor: Dr. Katja Frieler
Start Date: February 2014 Completion: February 2019