The effect of climatic variations on agricultural risk
- Cite this article as:
- Parry, M.L. & Carter, T.R. Climatic Change (1985) 7: 95. doi:10.1007/BF00139443
The thesis of this paper is that impacts from climatic change can be evaluated effectively as changes in the frequency of short-term, anomalous climatic events. These can then be expressed as changes in the level of risk of impact from climatic extremes. To evaluate this approach, the risk of crop failure resulting from low levels of accumulated temperature is assessed for oats farming in southern Scotland. Annual accumulated temperatures are calculated for the 323-year-long temperature record compiled by Manley for Central England. These are bridged across to southern Scotland and, by calculating mean levels of risk for different elevations, an average ‘risk surface’ is constructed. One-in-10 and 1-in-50 frequencies of crop failure are assumed to delineate a high-risk zone, which is mapped for the 323-year period by constructing isopleths of these risk levels. By redrawing the risk isopleths for warm and cool 50-year periods, the geographical shift of the high-risk zone is delineated. The conclusion is that relatively recent and apparently minor climatic variations in the United Kingdom have in fact induced substantial spatial changes in levels of agricultural risk. An advantage of expressing climatic change as a change in agricultural risk is that support programs for agriculture can be retuned to accommodate acceptable frequencies of impact by adjusting support levels to match new risk levels.