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Food crops in a changing climate: report of a Royal Society discussion meeting

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This, the summary report of a Royal Society discussion meeting on food crops in a changing climate, outlines new research that demonstrates that the impact of climate change on crop yields and quality will be more severe than previously thought. It highlights the need for research to improve the resolution and complexity of climate models and the consequent requirement for enhanced computer power. With respect to Africa, the importance of scientific capacity building and knowledge transfer to help Africa to monitor and adapt to climate change is outlined.Key points of the report include:Impacts:The impact of changes in climate and atmospheric gas concentrations on crop yields will be more severe than previously thought. More field-based studies, particularly in tropical regions, are needed to improve our understanding in this area.further development of crop cultivars that are more tolerant to extreme weather and growing conditions in terms of both yield and quality is neededimproved understanding of the impacts of climate change on water availability is also required to inform the management of water for crops under climate changeagriculture will itself impact on the climate system and a greater understanding of these interactions is needed. For example crops will use water more efficiently and lose less to the atmosphere under increased levels of atmospheric CO2. If this occurs over a sufficiently large region it could lead to reduced rainfallit is important that agricultural adaptations to climate change do not make conditions worse. For example agriculture is a major source of two greenhouse gases (methane and nitrous oxide) and changes to land use or agricultural practice could affect their release