Nature Climate Change Publishes first articles

Nature Climate Change is a new, high-profile and interdisciplinary journal focused on climate change research.  Its first research articles were released last week, abstracts below.

David B. Lobell, Marianne Bänziger, Cosmos Magorokosho & Bindiganavile Vivek

New approaches are needed to accelerate understanding of climate impacts on crop yields, particularly in tropical regions. Past studies have relied mainly on crop-simulation models or statistical analyses based on reported harvest data3, 4, each with considerable uncertainties and limited applicability to tropical systems. However, a wealth of historical crop-trial data exists in the tropics that has been previously untapped for climate research. Using a data set of more than 20,000 historical maize trials in Africa, combined with daily weather data, we show a nonlinear relationship between warming and yields. Each degree day spent above 30 °C reduced the final yield by 1% under optimal rain-fed conditions, and by 1.7% under drought conditions. These results are consistent with studies of temperate maize germplasm in other regions, and indicate the key role of moisture in maize’s ability to cope with heat. Roughly 65% of present maize-growing areas in Africa would experience yield losses for 1 °C of warming under optimal rain-fed management, with 100% of areas harmed by warming under drought conditions. The results indicate that data generated by international networks of crop experimenters represent a potential boon to research aimed at quantifying climate impacts and prioritizing adaptation responses, especially in regions such as Africa that are typically thought to be data-poor.

A. Spence, W. Poortinga, C. Butler & N. F. Pidgeon

One of the reasons that people may not take action to mitigate climate change is that they lack first-hand experience of its potential consequences. From this perspective, individuals who have direct experience of phenomena that may be linked to climate change would be more likely to be concerned by the issue and thus more inclined to undertake sustainable behaviours. So far, the evidence available to test this hypothesis is limited, and in part contradictory. Here we use national survey data collected from 1,822 individuals across the UK in 2010, to examine the links between direct flooding experience, perceptions of climate change and preparedness to reduce energy use. We show that those who report experience of flooding express more concern over climate change, see it as less uncertain and feel more confident that their actions will have an effect on climate change. Importantly, these perceptual differences also translate into a greater willingness to save energy to mitigate climate change. Highlighting links between local weather events and climate change is therefore likely to be a useful strategy for increasing concern and action.

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