The Assessment of Effects of Climatic Variations on Agriculture: Aims, Methods and Summary of Results

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Abstract

There is growing evidence that increasing concentrations of carbon dioxide (CO2) and of other radiatively active trace gases in the atmosphere may be having a long-term effect on our climate. The earth is at present experiencing a long timescale climatic warming, with global mean temperatures increasing by 0.3-0.7°C over the last 100 years (WMO, 1986). Five of the nine warmest years in the entire 134-year global temperature record occurred after 1978, the three warmest being 1980, 1981 and 1983 (Jones et al., 1986). Although this observed increase cannot yet be ascribed in a statistically rigorous manner to the increasing concentration of CO2 and other trace gases, its direction and magnitude lie within the predicted range of their effects. Recent assessments suggest that increases in global mean temperatures in the range of 1.5-5.5 °C are likely to occur as a result of increases in CO2 and other trace gases equivalent to a doubling of the atmospheric CO2 concentration, which will probably occur between 2050 and 2100 (Bolin et. al., 1986).