In a recent paper published in the journal Nature, Chinese scientists warn that rising temperatures in China could accelerate evapo-transpiration and limit freshwater supplies for agriculture. This in turn could translate to reduced crop yields potentially by 13% by 2050.
China is faced with a daunting food challenge that has been getting worse as the population expands. The nation posseses only 7% of global arable land, but must feed 22% of the world’s people. Its per capita water supplies are only 25% of the world’s average levels. China’s northern regions hold 18% of total water supplies and 65% of the nation’s arable land, but the climate in those areas has become drier over the years.
By the end of 2015, China’s population is expected to reach 1.39 billion, requiring a 4 million ton increase in annual grain supply over the next decade, but according to the Nature article, water limitations may reduce rice yields by 4 to 14%, wheat by 2 to 20% and corn by 0 to 23% by the middle of this century.
China’s agriculture minister acknowledges the nation faces a “formidable task” in meeting food demand in the face of growing resource scarcity.