Risks that rising temperatures pose to the Australian agricultural industry

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A report published by the Australian Academy of Sciences synthesized the effects that a 3 ° C increase will have on Australian ecosystems, humans and agriculture.

The agricultural industry is expected to be affected by increased heat waves and decreased water supply which will hamper the growth of crops, livestock and fisheries.

A key impact will be reduced precipitation and overall water availability. The effects include droughts, increased water prices for irrigation, and changes in land productivity. Already, the study said they had seen reductions of up to 27 percent in wheat and barley yields.

The report also found that climate change has reduced the profitability of Australian farms by 22% since 2000, with reduced rainfall having the capacity to reduce cropland in “dry” areas of Australia to pasture only.

Along with the decrease in rains, the study predicted an increase in heat waves that would negatively impact animal welfare, reproduction and production. The increased oscillations between heat waves and extreme precipitation could cause heat stress to animals and humans, while reducing food availability and increasing soil erosion.

These heat and water factors have the potential to reduce the overall profitability of the farm by reducing crop yields between 5 and 50 percent.

The fisheries would be affected by the warming and acidification of the oceans, which would modify the functioning of aquaculture. These could negatively impact the reproduction of aquaculture and the existence of the industry itself with impacts on the levels and distribution of fish stocks in Australian waters.

To read the full report, click here.


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