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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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 amount of global food reserves has recently been a bit less than 16% of annual demand... and expected to drop rapidly as folks in the NewlyIndustrializedNations increase their demand for meat (feed conversion approximately 7to1 for beef; 5to1 for pork; and 3to1 for poultry, and 2to1 for eggs and milk products)

A good overview about Food Insecurity and the Global Food Reserves.

142 NRAamyWe "Soylent Green...."

The heck with that, real baby back ribs ...mmm-mmm good. As Swift pointed out in his Modest Proposal, it's hopelessly inefficient to create and raise the little rugrats just to let them starve to death later when that same feed can instead be used to raise cattle.
After all, a trillion Moties can't be wrong.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting aquak9:


my head just exploded


Pretty sure I'm the nafarious part.....:{
Member Since: September 16, 2010 Posts: 0 Comments: 1492
Quoting Grothar:
One pattern of which I have become aware, is the insidious remarks which appear repeatedly and seem ubiquitous. This may be due to the fact that one does not have the sequacious ability to formulate a more cognizant argument, or lacks, therefore, the desire to contribute a meaningful dialogue. If this were the case, it would be just a nefarious attempt at attention. Hence, we should negate any response to the former and withhold any credence to the latter. There, now go have fun with this.


my head just exploded

grothar you have wumail
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joe b blew gilbert and thats a fact
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Quoting Grothar:
One pattern of which I have become aware, is the insidious remarks which appear repeatedly and seem ubiquitous. This may be due to the fact that one does not have the sequacious ability to formulate a more cognizant argument, or lacks, therefore, the desire to contribute a meaningful dialogue. If this were the case, it would be just a nefarious attempt at attention. Hence, we should negate any response to the former and withhold any credence to the latter. There, now go have fun with this.
Amazing what 20 minutes on thesaurus.com can do...

;-)
Member Since: August 16, 2007 Posts: 6 Comments: 12461
Quoting atmoaggie:
Not a dumb question. An excellent question.

One to which we, collectively, don't truly know the answer.

The postulated theory, to date, is that AGW would cause both droughts and increased precip (though probably not at the same place at the same time).


What is this theory based on? Extreme weather events typically happen when regional weather patterns get "stuck", how and why would an increase in global make this more frequent? I would even go a bit further and say an increase in temperature would have a more moderating effect on global weather. Take a look at the equator.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
One pattern of which I have become aware, is the insidious remarks which appear repeatedly and seem ubiquitous. This may be due to the fact that one does not have the sequacious ability to formulate a more cognizant argument, or lacks, therefore, the desire to contribute a meaningful dialogue. If this were the case, it would be just a nefarious attempt at attention. Hence, we should negate any response to the former and withhold any credence to the latter. There, now go have fun with this.
Member Since: July 17, 2009 Posts: 71 Comments: 26000
sigh...

looks like the end of the month came a little earlier than normal this time...
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Stated earlier my typing was bad attomaggie.That is why iI had to spend all that moneyfor term papers and thesis for my MBA.But i assure you i have some very good admin aides who are tremendous in thier oral and typing skills.Glad they work for this ole illiterate cp vp.lol just a rib you have a good day, time to fly lol.
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Quoting pipelines:
I hate to ask a dumb question, but why would global warming cause more frequent, severe droughts? If global temperatures increase, water levels will increase due to ice melt. This will increase the surface area of the planets oceans and combined with higher temperatures, should increase the amount of evaporation leading to higher amounts of water vapor in the atmosphere and thus, higher precipitation globally.
Not a dumb question. An excellent question.

One to which we, collectively, don't truly know the answer.

The postulated theory, to date, is that AGW would cause both droughts and increased precip (though probably not at the same place at the same time).
Member Since: August 16, 2007 Posts: 6 Comments: 12461

Quoting kwgirl:
If I remember my history correctly, the dustbowl was a combination of man made problem and drought. The government was encouraging people to settle in the plains and they plowed up the prarie grass that captured moisture and held the soil in place. Then a dry spell hit and all the moisture left the ground, then it just fed on itself, until the dustbowl. I am sure there is more to it, but that is the gist as I remember it.

That is the condensed version, but right on the mark.

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I hate to ask a dumb question, but why would global warming cause more frequent, severe droughts? If global temperatures increase, water levels will increase due to ice melt. This will increase the surface area of the planets oceans and combined with higher temperatures, should increase the amount of evaporation leading to higher amounts of water vapor in the atmosphere and thus, higher precipitation globally.
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Quoting Patrap:
Bastardi should retract the video and apologize to NSIDC. If he wont, then he clearly is abusing his position at Accuweather to spread disinformation in order to undermine one of the worlds leading scientific institutions an institution that, unlike Bastardi, is trying to provide accurate, independent information about what humans are doing to this planet. In that case, InAccuWeather should retract the video and fire him. Of course, if they do, I expect FoxNews will officially ire him as their forecaster.


J B committed Fraud,,and got caught.

Whatever else your rambling suggest I havent a clue nor care.

Were all a lot better off with JB out the real science of Climatology.

Thats my Point,,and if you take the time to read the comments in the article,,and view the video,,you maybe would have a clue.

Donald Trump is the Hair Guy who always is noted for,,



"Your Fired".




Amen Pat. There is no room for unabashed ideology in science. You are dead on. JB would be a PERFECT fit for Fox Misinforpinion. They both like to portray opinion as fact.
Member Since: August 28, 2006 Posts: 6 Comments: 2895
And rita evac bless you I wish I was a Kiddy again.Feel like one but the mirror tells me 47 reasons why im not.To aquak my dear and gracious lady you have been a godsend to this blog since us old timers started on it in 2005.To minnemike neo and others enjoyed the mature intelligent debate and conversation.and pat I tend to visit a lot of lodges might see you one day. Well time to catch the plane for newport news.Been a pleasure for once to have the time to chat.Have a wonderful day and God bless.
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Quoting Grothar:
Either my English is worse than I thought, or I am beginning to just lose it. I have hardly understood most of the blog entries here today. I have no idea what most of them mean. Are they just ramblings, or should I adjust my medication? (and no wisecracks, atmo!)


and I just sent another one......Get with Grothar........lol....
Member Since: September 16, 2010 Posts: 0 Comments: 1492
Well seems I squashed a few pickles..

LOL

WUnderful

snif,ack,...
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting Grothar:
Either my English is worse than I thought, or I am beginning to just lose it. I have hardly understood most of the blog entries here today. I have no idea what most of them mean. Are they just ramblings, or should I adjust my medication? (and no wisecracks, atmo!)
Dang. Too late.
Member Since: August 16, 2007 Posts: 6 Comments: 12461
Either my English is worse than I thought, or I am beginning to just lose it. I have hardly understood most of the blog entries here today. I have no idea what most of them mean. Are they just ramblings, or should I adjust my medication? (and no wisecracks, atmo!)
Member Since: July 17, 2009 Posts: 71 Comments: 26000
"Put the bunny down" an" Leave Pat Alone".....
Member Since: September 16, 2010 Posts: 0 Comments: 1492
Pat put the damn Voodoo book down!
Member Since: July 14, 2008 Posts: 1 Comments: 9628
Quoting aquak9:


who is "I"?

where is "you"?

those pointy pronouns confuse me...


Knew you wouldn't miss that one.
Member Since: July 17, 2009 Posts: 71 Comments: 26000
Whenever I see or hear the name Donald Trump....I get this mental block....How do you get hair to go up, foward, around and back.....and stay that way.. I'd say that top part is about 18 in long or more.....
Member Since: September 16, 2010 Posts: 0 Comments: 1492
Whose widow,,please?

I dont have a darn clue sport?

Give it a rest.

Or not..I have a iggy feature as well
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That is just his MO. It's all he knows how to do in here, it seems.
(RE: Grothar's dry wit...he's good at it. Lest anyone get any other ideas. Or not give a listen...)
Member Since: August 16, 2007 Posts: 6 Comments: 12461
Pat the ramblings i Quoted you know exactly what i meant.And everything Is not about a picture show.Unles you have misled than you know exactly what mercy for the widows son means.And once again my brother no hard feelings and sumolebe.And in conclusion are not you and i supposed to stick together?Seems like we put our hand over a special book and swore we would.hope you feel better brother and God bless.
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OIL ($/bbl)

Nymex Crude Future $98.01 up $2.59
Member Since: July 14, 2008 Posts: 1 Comments: 9628
Quoting Grothar:
I think you make a very good point there.


who is "I"?

where is "you"?

those pointy pronouns confuse me...
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
I think you make a very good point there.
Member Since: July 17, 2009 Posts: 71 Comments: 26000
It's like a friend of mine who is in her 70's and has recently started referring to anyone in her conversations by pronouns. You can't keep track of who she is talking about. It is a sad state because I believe she is losing her memory quickly and will not get help. We who communicate here and do not really know each other need to be specific. In other words, "quote" someone by referring to the person prior to putting the words in, unless we are playing guessing games again. Then count me IN
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
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.



+ 2.5 to the Fifth Power
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Easy on the kiddos Pat
Member Since: July 14, 2008 Posts: 1 Comments: 9628
Wrestling by far is "LAST" thing I would ever give ANY thought to.

Ever,,sans forever.
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Lawdy.......
Member Since: September 16, 2010 Posts: 0 Comments: 1492
and I associate "you're fired" with Vince McMahon, from wresting, too.
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I tried running #202 through Google Translate and my computer caught fire. :(
Member Since: March 26, 2006 Posts: 44 Comments: 1520
sainthurrifan

you have wu-mail, sadly
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Bastardi should retract the video and apologize to NSIDC. If he wont, then he clearly is abusing his position at Accuweather to spread disinformation in order to undermine one of the worlds leading scientific institutions an institution that, unlike Bastardi, is trying to provide accurate, independent information about what humans are doing to this planet. In that case, InAccuWeather should retract the video and fire him. Of course, if they do, I expect FoxNews will officially ire him as their forecaster.


J B committed Fraud,,and got caught.

Whatever else your rambling suggest I havent a clue nor care.

Were all a lot better off with JB out the real science of Climatology.

Thats my Point,,and if you take the time to read the comments in the article,,and view the video,,you maybe would have a clue.

Donald Trump is the Hair Guy who always is noted for,,



"Your Fired".


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O,Rhett !!
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Quoting Patrap:
Dude,sir,I havent a clue as 2 wtf your saying ,,and frankly,scarlett,..


well u know the rest


Just worry about it tomorrow, for tomorrow is another day.
Member Since: July 17, 2009 Posts: 71 Comments: 26000
Sorry pat i will respectfully and maturely try it again.I said you quoted I thought vince macmann.the president and founder of the WWE.Who always told people on the show your fired.Sorry if I misinterpeted.Now I stated before you critisize him to much, I asked if you would have some mercy for the widows son.Because he is also the same as youand I which i know to be fact.As a matter of fact he went to the highest degree we can achieve.And as far as the dirty connotation as a brother I would not disrespect you or any other like that.Thier has been a lot of good discussion on here today with people who are of differen ideas.Now why you have to go into a insulting rant toward me I fail to understand.Somolebe my brother.
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201. Skyepony (Mod)
At least 50 people have been killed and tens of thousands left homeless after torrential rains hit Bolivia. Spanish news agency EFE reported on Tuesday that the government has declared a state of emergency after flash floods and landslides swept through the country, caused by heavy rain that has continued since the beginning of the year. The downpour has caused river levels to rise, leaving some 20 highways underwater. Bolivia's defense minister promised 20 million US dollars in emergency aid to use for reconstructing the affected areas and help residents in those regions.
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Go Steve, Eric, Steve, Al, Michael, Nicole and Space Shuttle Discovery! Launch tomorrow at 4:50 pm EST.

I posted mission info on my blog if anyones interested.
Link
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199. Skyepony (Mod)
More than 160 people were evacuated to safer areas after flash floods hit the southern Filipino city of Dipolog, but there had been no reports of casualties. Most of those affected by the flood were brought to temporary shelters. At least three houses were destroyed by the rampaging waters and that crops and livestock had been affected by the flood. Government media reported that at least 167 people were evacuated to the municipal complex in Zamboanga del Norte province. Heavy rains the past days have flooded some villages in Dipolog City. Thousands of families were also left homeless earlier this month after flash floods triggered by continuous rains hit many provinces in the southern Philippines and killed and injured dozens of villagers. In Sulu province, eight people had been killed by flash flood and submerged the capital town of Jolo. President Benigno Aquino visited Sulu on February 11 and distributed relief goods together with local officials headed by Governor Sakur Tan and Mayor Hussin Amin to thousands of villagers in the town.



I've got to side with Drak on the whole Joe B issue..
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2 whole comments ?


Banned on the run ?


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Quoting 47n91w:


Really? That's too bad. I was going to volunteer my help to TX for filling out any necessary paperwork.


I say let them secede, and let them take their dark age, political hack, Inquisition style school curriculum review board with them. That little show demonstrated why the US is failing behind the rest of the developed world in education.
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Wrong Pat, like most of the time.
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Darn pat you mean you quote Vince Macmann lol.Tlak about a man who made millions off peoples gullibility.As far as your comment on Joe something you did not know .Before you critsize him too much, think about this you have no mercy for the widows son?For he was part of that group we have great pride in.Rememer our oath?
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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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