Prioritizing Investments in Food Security Under a Changing Climate


Principal Investigator
Senior Fellow
  • Professor, Earth System Science
  • William Wrigley Fellow at the Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies and Stanford Woods Institute for the Environment
Senior Fellow, Emeritus
  • Professor, Economics, Emeritus
  • Senior Fellow, Stanford Woods Institute
  • Gloria and Richard Kushel Director of the Center on Food Security and the Environment
  • William Wrigley Professor of Earth System Science
  • Senior Fellow, Stanford Woods Institute and Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies
  • Professor, by courtesy, Economics

A team led by FSE fellow David Lobell has found a valuable, untapped resource in historical data from crop yield trials conducted across sub-Saharan Africa. Combined with weather records, they show that yield losses would occur across 65 percent of maize-growing areas from a temperature rise of a single degree Celsius, even with sufficient water.

Over much of the world, the growing season of 2050 will probably be warmer than the hottest of recent years, with more variable rainfall. If we continue to grow the same crops in the same way, climate change will contribute to yield declines in many places. With potentially less food to feed more people, we have no choice but to adapt agriculture to the new conditions. New approaches are needed to accelerate understanding of climate impacts on crop yields, particularly in tropical regions. 

This project examines the potential effects of climate change on agriculture, and adaptation options in African agriculture. The work will assess climate threats to staple food crops at a country level, quantify the sources of uncertainty inherent in these assessments, and determine what implications shifts in crop climates have for agricultural adaptation and genetic resources preservation - with the end goal of helping prioritize investments in agricultural development and food security under a changing climate.