According to a newly published study, climate change will likely have a significant impact on the world’s crop staples, including soybeans, wheat, and corn, as soon as 2030. This is’several decades earlier than previously thought’.

The research — stemming from NASA scientists — notes that in a high greenhouse gas emissions scenario, corn crop yields will drop a staggering 24 percent.

According to the study, corn is considered “the most important global crop in terms total production and food safety in many regions.”

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Soybeans as well as rice will be affected, but models developed by researchers show varying levels of impact. They range from a decline in 2 percent to as low at 21 percent.

Crop staples like corn, wheat and soybeans will be drastically impacted by climate change as soon as next decade

Climate change will have a profound impact on crop staples like soybeans, wheat, and corn as soon as the next decade.

In a high greenhouse gas emissions scenario, corn yields will drop 24 percent by 2030

In a high level of greenhouse gas emissions, corn yields will fall 24 percent by 2030

Soybeans and rice are also set to be negatively impacted, though the models give varying levels of impact. Wheat crop yields could increase, but the output will be uneven around the globe and will not last forever

The models show varying degrees of impact on rice and soybeans. While the yields of wheat crop could increase, they will not last forever.

Rice could see a drop of 23 percent growth to as low as 2 percent growth, or as low at a 15% decline.

The researchers concluded that wheat crops could still grow 17 percent.

We introduce the concept of climate impacts emergence to the field agriculture impacts. This highlights the fact that major shifts will occur in global crop production due to climate change in the next 20 years. [years]The authors noted that this was several decades earlier than the estimates based upon previous model projections. 

The researchers used advanced climate modeling and agricultural modeling to examine changes in yields. They considered several factors such as projected increases in temperature, changing rainfall patterns, and an increase in carbon dioxide concentrations.

‘We did not expect to see such a fundamental shift, as compared to crop yield projections from the previous generation of climate and crop models conducted in 2014,’ said the study’s lead author Jonas Jägermeyr, a crop modeler and climate scientist at NASA’s Goddard Institute, in a statement. 

Jägermeyr was especially concerned at the projected decline in corn, adding, ‘a 20% decrease from current production levels could have severe implications worldwide.’ 

The study's lead author Jonas Jägermeyr was especially concerned at the projected decline in corn, adding, 'a 20% decrease from current production levels could have severe implications worldwide'

The study’s lead author Jonas Jägermeyr was especially concerned at the projected decline in corn, adding, ‘a 20% decrease from current production levels could have severe implications worldwide’

Rice could see a drop from 23 percent growth to 2 percent growth or as low as a 15 percent decline. However, wheat crops could grow 17 percent, the researchers concluded

Rice could see a drop of 23 percent to 21% growth, or as low a 15% decline. The researchers found that wheat crops could grow 17%.

The study shows that global wheat crop yields are expected to increase, but it will be uneven over time and not last forever.

South Asia, Mexico, and parts of South America will be in a position to grow the crop for longer periods of time.

NASA stated that NASA believes the gains may begin to ‘level out mid-century’.

Although wheat crop yields will increase globally, it will be uneven and will not last forever, according to the study. South Asia, the southern U.S., Mexico and parts of South America will be able to grow the crop longer, as will certain parts of the northern U.S., Canada and other East Africa. However, the gains may start to 'level off mid-century,' NASA said .

The study shows that while global wheat crop yields will rise, they will be uneven and not last forever. South Asia, Mexico, South America and parts South America will be able grow the crop longer than certain parts of the U.S. and Canada. NASA stated that the gains could ‘level off’ by mid-century.

‘Even under optimistic climate change scenarios, where societies enact ambitious efforts to limit global temperature rise, global agriculture is facing a new climate reality,’ Jägermeyr added. 

“And with the interconnectedness in the global food system all impacts in any one region’s breadbasket will have an international impact.” 

To reach their conclusions, the researchers used climate model simulations from International Climate Model Intercomparison Project – Phase 6 (CMIP6) and simulations using 12 crop models from Columbia University’s Agricultural Model Intercomparison & Improving Project (AgMIP).

The five CMIP6 models compared Earth’s atmosphere to greenhouse gases emissions through the year 2100. The MgMIP models were based upon real-life biological responses to crops in indoor and outdoors experiments.

Each crop was represented by approximately 240 simulations.

Alex Ruane (co-author of the study) said, “What we’re doing it is driving crop simulators that are effectively cultivating virtual crops day by day, powered with a supercomputer and then looking to the year-by -decade change at each location in the world.” 

The researchers also looked at what impact higher CO2 would have on photosynthesis and water retention and found it would be positive, though 'often at a cost to nutrition'

The researchers also examined the effects of higher CO2 on photosynthesis, water retention, and nutrition.

Researchers also examined the impact of higher CO2 on photosynthesis and water retention. They found that it would be beneficial, but often at a cost to nutrition, particularly for wheat.

According to the study, the scenarios suggest that “current food production systems will soon experience fundamentally changed risk profiles.” However, researchers note that this could change with different inputs such as economic incentives, changing farming methods, and breeding harder crops. 

The study was published in Nature Food this week. 

The study is being done as governments from all over the world gather in Glasgow, Scotland for the United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP26). 

Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates said he thinks the world is likely to miss the 2.7°F (1.5°C) climate change target, as set out in the aims of the Paris Agreement.

Earlier this year, a significant portion of the globe dealt with a crippling heat dome exacerbated by climate change, causing temperatures to get as high as 114°F in Italy, Spain and Greece and possibly resulting in the death of 1 billion sea creatures in the Pacific Ocean.  

Lancet, a medical journal, stated last month that climate change is causing health problems. This creates a ‘code Red’ situation in which droughts can impact food production and rising temperatures can lead to diseases such as malaria and cholera spreading across the globe. 


The Paris Agreement, first signed in 2015 by the international community, is an international agreement that aims to limit and stop climate change.

It hopes to hold the increase in the global average temperature to below 2°C (3.6ºF) ‘and to pursue efforts to limit the temperature increase to 1.5°C (2.7°F)’.

It seems the more ambitious goal of restricting global warming to 1.5°C (2.7°F) may be more important than ever, according to previous research which claims 25 per cent of the world could see a significant increase in drier conditions. 

The Paris Agreement on Climate Change has four main objectives in regards to reducing emissions.

1)  A long-term goal of keeping the increase in global average temperature to well below 2°C above pre-industrial levels

2) To aim to limit the increase to 1.5°C, since this would significantly reduce risks and the impacts of climate change

3) Governments agreed that global emissions must peak as soon as possible. Recognizing that this will take more time for developing countries, they also agreed to the need for it to be done as quickly as possible.

4) To make rapid reductions in the future based on the best science available

Source: European Commission