Drought in China adds pressure to world food prices

By: Dr. Jeff Masters , 2:49 AM GMT on February 23, 2011

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The soil lies cracked and broken in China's Shangdong Province, thirsting for rains that will not come. China's key wheat producing region, lying just south of Beijing, has received just 12 millimeters (1/2 inch) of rain since September, according to the Chinese news service Xinhua. If no rains come during the remainder of February, it could become the worst drought in 200 years. The latest precipitation forecast from the GFS ensemble model predicts the possibility of rains of around 1/2 inch for Shandong Province early next week, but these rains would help only a little. A longer-range 2-week forecast from the operational GFS model shows little or no rain for the region from late next week well into March. Columbia University's International Research Institute for Climate and Society (IRI) projects that spring in Eastern China has an enhanced probability of being dry, with only a 20% - 25% chance that the region will see above average precipitation, and a 40% - 45% chance of below average precipitation. So the great drought will likely continue, and China's ability to feed itself may be greatly challenged this year.


Figure 1. A dried cornfield in a mountainous area of Jinan, capital of east China's Shandong Province, Jan. 18, 2011. Image credit: Xinhua/Zhu Zheng.


Figure 2. Drought conditions in China's Shandong Province this February have reached the "Severe" category. Image credit: Beijing Climate Center.

Impact on global food supplies and food prices
According to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), the drought in north China seems to be putting pressure on wheat prices, which have been rising rapidly in the past few months. This has helped push global food prices to their highest levels since the FAO Food Price Index was created in 1990 (Figure 3.) China is the world's largest producer of wheat, and if they are forced to import large amounts of food due to continued drought, it could severely impact world food prices. However, the FAO's regional representative for Asia and the Pacific said in an interview with Reuters last month that the situation is not as severe as in 2008, when global food riots erupted. "In general, the supply/demand situation of food grains has become very tight at the moment but enough stocks means there is no cause for alarm," Konuma said. "We still maintain sufficient stocks, which is about 25 percent of annual production. As long as there are sufficient stocks, that means the world has enough food still to feed the people." However, he said that if food stocks continued to decline over the next few years, there would be cause for concern.

The record food global food prices have been partially driven by two other huge weather disasters, the Russian summer heat wave and drought of 2010, and the Australian floods of December - January 2011. Both Russia and Australia are major exporters of grain. Russia issued a ban last summer on grain exports because of their drought, which slashed the wheat harvest by 40% and damaged soils to such an extent that 10% of Russian wheat fields could not be planted this year. The Russian heat wave of 2010 is now estimated by the Centre for Research on the Epidemiology of Disasters to be the deadliest in human history, with 55,736 deaths. The Australian floods caused at least $1.7 billion in agricultural damage, reducing their wheat crop significantly. Fortunately, bumper crops were harvested in non-flooded areas of Australia, and the winter crop harvest in country was up 19% over the previous year's crop, and was the biggest since 2003 - 2004. Australia has been struggling with severe drought in recent years that caused more agricultural damage than the floods did.


Figure 3. The global price of food between 1990 - January 2011, as measured by the U.N.'s FAO Food Price Index. The FAO Food Price Index is a measure of the monthly change in international prices of a basket of food commodities. It consists of the average of price indices for Cereals, Oils and Fats, Sugar, Dairy, and Meat, weighted by the average export shares of each group. Food prices between 2002 - 2004 are given a benchmark value of "100". Global food prices in January 2011 were the highest since the FAO Index was established in 1990. Image credit: Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations.

Drought outlook for Northern Hemisphere summer of 2011
The spike in global food prices this winter raises the concern that a severe drought in a major grain producing region in North America, Europe, or Asia this summer could severely impact grain supplies and food prices. Fortunately, with La Niña conditions over the Eastern Pacific weakening, and possibly abating by summer, the chances for such a drought are lower than they would have been if La Niña were to stay strong into the summer. The latest precipitation forecast from Columbia University's International Research Institute for Climate and Society (Figure 4) shows few areas of drought concern for the coming Northern Hemisphere summer. However, our skill at predicting drought months in advance is limited. For example, IRI's February 2010 forecast of precipitation for the summer of 2010 did not highlight Russia as an area of possible concern for drought, and Russia ended up having one of its worst droughts in history. IRI did highlight the Amazon as a region likely to have below-average summer rains, though, and the Amazon ended up having a 100-year drought last summer.


Figure 4. Global precipitation forecast for June, July and August of 2011, made in February 2011. Only a few scattered regions of the globe are predicted to have above-average chances of drought (yellow colors.) These areas include the Northwest U.S., Southern Brazil, and Northwest China. Image credit: International Research Institute for Climate and Society

Commentary
The recent unrest in the Middle East, which has been attributed, in part, to high food prices, gives us a warning of the type of global unrest that might result in future years if the climate continues to warm as expected. A hotter climate means more severe droughts will occur. We can expect an increasing number of unprecedented heat waves and droughts like the 2010 Russian drought in coming decades. This will significantly increase the odds of a world food emergency far worse than the 2007 - 2008 global food crisis. When we also consider the world's expanding population and the possibility that peak oil will make fertilizers and agriculture much more expensive, we have the potential for a perfect storm of events aligning in the near future, with droughts made significantly worse by climate change contributing to events that will cause disruption of the global economy, intense political turmoil, and war.

I will be doing another post on Thursday or Friday.

The New York Times' Andy Revkin in his Dot Earth Blog has a more in-depth look at the food and climate change issue that I recommend.

Jeff Masters

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Maybe it's the "Feeble Finger Syndrone" (FFS)....but..I'm not feeble yet....a little slow maybe....but not feeble
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Why is it...when I click on quote it never works the first time? I always have to click quote twice to quote someone........urrrg
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That Hot Tower video is a good one from NASA,But listen again and it sounds like Dr. Phil is Narrating it.

Creepy.



Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 421 Comments: 127592
Quoting Patrap:

That's a real good one, Pat...thanks The video about hot towers, that is.......:}
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The GFS is forecasting a big tempeture contrast next week,wich in return means a nasty server weather outbreak for someone.But remember sometimes the GFS likes to over exssagerate things.
Member Since: August 14, 2010 Posts: 10 Comments: 16421


Potential for strong tornadoes may persist through the 03-05z time
frame across parts of northern Mississippi and western
Tennessee...while damaging wind potential continues deeper into the
night toward the southern Appalachians.
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Quoting KoritheMan:

Tomas.

They just put that "coming soon" part in this afternoon, as they published their final official 2010 storm track chart (mentioned in comment #288):

Click for larger image:

Appropriate tropical weather-related image.
Member Since: November 8, 2009 Posts: 4 Comments: 13461
Quoting WaterWitch11:
see you when you get here patrap, i have a heart stone with gold flakes in it for ya.


Sparkles...

Schweeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeet.

Mardi Gras always needs color,..

Parade on Magazine St. Friday Night.

Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 421 Comments: 127592
Quoting twincomanche:


It's irrelevant what they make. Deal with it. I admire success not envy it. I only worry about my own concerns when it comes to money. I have never understood why anyone would want to be President, or Governor of a state with deep financial problems or a 85 year old dictator clinging to power or a guy with way way more money than anyone can spend in ten lifetimes.

If I had been a lot more successful I would understand, but I'm happy to have been fairly successful (so far) and hope I can leave a little something for my kids.


I also admire sucess and the freedom to be an entrepenour of a Small business... wish you the best for you and your family... and your business...
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Quoting Neapolitan:

Which part?
Tomas.
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Quoting KoritheMan:
Did anyone notice the new small addition to the NHC tropical cyclone report (TCR) page? I'm not sure yet if it applies to the Eastern Pacific as well, but I'm willing to bet it'll be a universal change:

  • Hurricane Alex – PDFKMZ
  • Tropical Depression Two – PDFKMZ
  • Tropical Storm Bonnie – PDFKMZ
  • Tropical Storm Colin – PDFKMZ
  • Tropical Depression Five – PDFKMZ
  • Hurricane Danielle – PDFKMZ
  • Hurricane Earl – PDFKMZ
  • Tropical Storm Fiona – PDFKMZ
  • Tropical Storm Gaston – PDFKMZ
  • Tropical Storm Hermine – PDFKMZ
  • Hurricane Igor – PDFKMZ
  • Hurricane Julia – PDFKMZ
  • Hurricane Karl – PDFKMZ
  • Hurricane Lisa – PDFKMZ
  • Tropical Storm Matthew – PDFKMZ
  • Tropical Storm Nicole – PDFKMZ
  • Hurricane Otto – PDFKMZ
  • Hurricane Paula – PDFKMZ
  • Hurricane Richard – PDFKMZ
  • Hurricane Shary – PDFKMZ
  • Hurricane Tomas – PDF (coming soon) – KMZ


Which part?
Member Since: November 8, 2009 Posts: 4 Comments: 13461
Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 421 Comments: 127592
* Hurricane Alex %u2013 PDF %u2013 KMZ
* Tropical Depression Two %u2013 PDF %u2013 KMZ
* Tropical Storm Bonnie %u2013 PDF %u2013 KMZ
* Tropical Storm Colin %u2013 PDF %u2013 KMZ
* Tropical Depression Five %u2013 PDF %u2013 KMZ
* Hurricane Danielle %u2013 PDF %u2013 KMZ
* Hurricane Earl %u2013 PDF %u2013 KMZ
* Tropical Storm Fiona %u2013 PDF %u2013 KMZ
* Tropical Storm Gaston %u2013 PDF %u2013 KMZ
* Tropical Storm Hermine %u2013 PDF %u2013 KMZ
* Hurricane Igor %u2013 PDF %u2013 KMZ
* Hurricane Julia %u2013 PDF %u2013 KMZ
* Hurricane Karl %u2013 PDF %u2013 KMZ
* Hurricane Lisa %u2013 PDF %u2013 KMZ
* Tropical Storm Matthew %u2013 PDF %u2013 KMZ
* Tropical Storm Nicole %u2013 PDF %u2013 KMZ
* Hurricane Otto %u2013 PDF %u2013 KMZ
* Hurricane Paula %u2013 PDF %u2013 KMZ
* Hurricane Richard %u2013 PDF %u2013 KMZ
* Hurricane Shary %u2013 PDF %u2013 KMZ
* Hurricane Tomas %u2013 PDF (coming soon) %u2013 KMZ
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Quoting Neapolitan:

How sadly far off the deep end of the spectrum has this country gone when good, old fashioned common sense and American values are considered radical left-wing, nutty socialism.

Tsk, tsk.


It's been the same way since the '50s. Say something another doesn't like and you get called a commie (socialist now-a-days).
Member Since: October 8, 2008 Posts: 14 Comments: 4553
Join Numbers is correct,but my first post was a comment in April 2006.

The Data sometime skews and hides the Human trend and memory.

Its still sharp.

Now,,wheres my truck key's?


Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 421 Comments: 127592
Here we go with the conservatives bickering about the liberals again on this blog. Geez, have you guys ever heard of the line "United we stand, divided we fall?" Y'all need to get along, quit bickering about this party did that, and just maybe this nation will get back on its feet again.

/endrant
Member Since: October 8, 2008 Posts: 14 Comments: 4553
Quoting Patrap:
Ta-Dahhhh!!!

90,000 posts

Do I get a tax Break now, or a stock option?


Think we have some trying to catch up with you quickly, with hardly a mention of weather since they joined.
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Quoting cat5hurricane:

No, don't worry, you're not. But the radical left-wing socialist nuts are in full force tonight.

How sadly far off the deep end of the spectrum has this country gone when good, old fashioned common sense and American values are considered radical left-wing, nutty socialism.

Tsk, tsk.
Member Since: November 8, 2009 Posts: 4 Comments: 13461
Quoting Patrap:
Ta-Dahhhh!!!

90,000 posts

Do I get a tax Break now, or a stock option?


From and including: Friday, June 3, 2005
To and including: Wednesday, February 23, 2011

It is 2092 days from the start date to the end date, end date included

Or 5 years, 8 months, 21 days including the end date
Alternative time units
2092 days can be converted to one of these units:

* 180,748,800 seconds
* 3,012,480 minutes
* 50,208 hours
* 298 weeks (rounded down)

90000 posts / 2092 days = You make an average of 43 posts per day
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Kinda reminds one of the end of Beetlejuice,,when he snatches the Voodoo Dr's number
Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 421 Comments: 127592
see you when you get here patrap, i have a heart stone with gold flakes in it for ya.
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...number nine...number nine...number ninety thousand...
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Quoting twincomanche:


So 'they' profit. OK as long as I profit also. One doesn't always have to 'take away' to get. It's called win win and it works very well.


Yeah, win win and it works very well, not for us, but for them... unless you as a businessman end up the month with an income 185 times higher than the average american.... :)

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Quoting Patrap:
Ta-Dahhhh!!!

90,000 posts

Do I get a tax Break now, or a stock option?

Better: a 20-minute call with the Governor or Wisconsin.
Member Since: November 8, 2009 Posts: 4 Comments: 13461
Ta-Dahhhh!!!

90,000 posts

Do I get a tax Break now, or a stock option?
Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 421 Comments: 127592
Quoting twincomanche:
I am beginning to understand that I may be the only conservative on the blog and therefore hardwired differently than most of you. Or maybe it's from being a small business man for forty years.


No, you are not.... I'm sure everyone here - just like you, "refuse to be a victim", but even when you believe you are well informed, in control, and you take your own decisions, accepting any of the options they give you, you end up, giving them what they want.... you end up playing their game... and they profit from you, just like they do from everyone of us...
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NEXRAD Radar
Wichita, Base Reflectivity 0.50 Degree Elevation Range 124 NMI


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Home / News / State and Regional News


Poll: Montana and Wyoming wary of climate change action

Associated Press The Billings Gazette | Posted: Wednesday, February 23, 2011 3:11 pm | (3) Comments




DENVER — A survey of voters in Colorado, Wyoming, Montana, Utah and New Mexico shows that a substantial portion aren't convinced that action needs to be taken on global warming.

But the survey shows they nevertheless tend to support federal regulations requiring reductions in carbon emissions from such sources as power plants, cars and factories to reduce climate change.

The results were released Wednesday by Colorado College's State of the Rockies project, which offers research on issues facing the Rocky Mountain West. Survey funding was from The William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, which says its programs include ones that aim to limit the risk of climate change and reduce poverty.

The survey said 61 percent of voters in Wyoming and Utah agreed either that concerns about global warming have been greatly exaggerated or that more research is needed on global warming before action is taken. Close to half of voters felt that way in Colorado, Montana and New Mexico.

However, about 70 percent of Colorado voters supported the EPA requiring reductions in carbon emissions from power plants, cars and factories, as did roughly two-thirds of Montana, New Mexico and Utah voters. About 56 percent in Wyoming said they supported it.

At least half of voters polled in each state said increasing the use of renewable energy sources would create new jobs in the state, rather than have no effect or cost jobs.

State of the Rockies project director Walt Hecox said he was "amazed" at the strong support for the idea that the economy and environment do not have to be in conflict.

"What I see is a fairly significant endorsement that we can build a clean energy economy, even when extractive industries have a significant presence in a state," said former Colorado Gov. Bill Ritter, now director of the Center for the New Energy Economy at Colorado State University.

Still, there have been conflicts with environmental initiatives. In Colorado, the coal industry and coal miners strongly opposed a 2010 law that required two utilities to look at shutting down or replacing some coal-fired power plants. Supporters said the law would help Colorado meet federal clean air standards.

Lori Weigel of the Republican polling firm Public Opinion Strategies and David Metz of the Democratic polling firm Fairbank, Maslin, Maullin, Metz and Associates conducted the telephone survey of 600 registered voters in Colorado and 400 each in Wyoming, Montana, Utah and New Mexico Jan. 23-27.

The margin of error was plus or minus 4 percentage points in Colorado and plus or minus 4.9 percentage points for the other states.
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Quoting an MSNBC article on the NewZealand Earthquake: JP Morgan analyst Michael Huttner conservatively estimated the insurance losses at $12 billion. That would be the most from a natural disaster since Hurricane Ike hit Texas and Louisiana in 2008, costing insurers $19 billion, according to the Insurance Information Institute.
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Jeff co-founded the Weather Underground in 1995 while working on his Ph.D. He flew with the NOAA Hurricane Hunters from 1986-1990.

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