DOI: 10.3390/atmos14081303 ISSN:

Revisiting Climate-Related Agricultural Losses across South America and Their Future Perspectives

Célia M. Gouveia, Flávio Justino, Carlos Gurjao, Lormido Zita, Catarina Alonso
  • Atmospheric Science
  • Environmental Science (miscellaneous)

Climate plays a major role in the spatiotemporal distribution of most agricultural systems, and the economic losses related to climate and weather extremes have escalated significantly in the last decades. South America is one of the most productive agricultural areas of the globe. In recent years, remote sensing data and geographic information systems have been used to improve geo-environmental hazard assessment. However, food security is still highly dependent on small farmer practices that are frequently the most vulnerable to climate extremes. This work reviews climate and weather extremes’ impacts on crop production for South American countries, focusing on the projected ones considering different climate scenarios and countries. A positive trend in the productivity of maize, mainly related to agricultural improvements, was recently observed in Colombia, Ecuador, and Uruguay by up to 200%, as well as in the case of soybean in Bolivia and Uruguay by about 125%. Despite the generalized adverse impacts of climate extremes, results from agrometeorological models generally indicate an increase in crop production in southern regions of Chile (and highlands) and Brazil mainly related to increased temperature. Positive impacts in response to CO2 fertilization are also foreseen in Peru and Brazil (southeast, south, and Minas Gerais); in particular, in Brazil, increases in productivity can be raised by about 40%. The use of double-cropping systems, although with very good results in recent years, may also be at risk in a few decades, mainly due to forecasted precipitation decrease, delay in rainy season onset, and temperature increase. The development of timely early warning systems is imperative to produce technically accurate alerts and the interpretation of the risk assessment based on the link between producers and consumers. Promoting climate index insurance is crucial to build resilient food production, but its implementation should rely on regional or international support systems. Moreover, the implementation of adaptation and mitigation also requires climate-resilient technologies that involve an interdisciplinary approach.

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