Crops outlook gloomy

How weather patterns around the world are having an impact on spring and summer crops.

    Global food security concerns have been heightened following drought conditions in 2010 [GALLO/GETTY]

    Interest in long-range weather forecasts has always been high. But it is likely to intensify as weather conditions continue to threaten crops in many parts of the world including China, North America and Europe.

    Whilst crops in the southeast of China [previously drought affected] are likely to be hit by the annual monsoon rains which have left much of the Yangtse Basin submerged, for western Europe, the US and Canada the problem has been one of drought.

    Some southern and southwestern states in the US have experienced their driest conditions for many years, with no significant rainfall since July 2010.

    High temperatures and low humidity have hit crops and proved ideal conditions for wildfires which have been fanned by strong winds.

    Concerns regarding global food security have been heightened following drought conditions in 2010 which saw Russia and Ukraine suffering poor cereal yields, forcing the former to halt all grain exports.

    Whilst these two countries are faring much better in 2011, the agricultural drought conditions in those affected European countries, have seen wheat and other cereal yields at their lowest in more than 30 years.

    This resulted from persistent high pressure which has kept rain-bearing Atlantic weather systems at bay for much of the late winter and spring period.

    Some parts of the UK had their driest spring in a hundred years.

    Spring droughts in this part of the world are not uncommon. Rain traditionally increases in June and early July as the so-called European summer monsoon takes hold.

    However, this should not be confused with the torrential rains of the Asian and African varieties.

    It is merely a period when, more often than not, the weather often becomes much more unsettled.

    People living in the UK will testify to disappointing weather conditions coinciding with the start of the Wimbledon Open Tennis Championships.

    Indeed, forecasters are mostly predicting a more unsettled spell of weather extending through the rest of June before somewhat drier returns in July.

    The picture for the US is more variable with above average rains for the midwest but very dry conditions expected to persist for many southern states. This is consistent with La Nina phase of the Southern Oscillation.

    Growing population continues to fuel our demand for more food production.

    But unfortunately, for many parts of the world, weather variability makes this a difficult need to meet.

    SOURCE: Al Jazeera


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