As we head into summer in the Northern Hemisphere, where most crops are grown, it’s looking less and less likely that there will be a cornucopia of crops during this year’s harvest. The next six months will be crucial in lowering food risk – but only if farmers everywhere can produce bumper crops this year.
Our climate and weather analysis shows that’s extremely unlikely. So, here are a few trends to keep in mind as we prepare for lowered food stocks and potential scarcities.
Weather patterns aren’t cooperating
The start of the growing season (spring planting) has been problematic in many areas and the weather forecast for the all-important summer development period is increasingly looking like it will be a summer of crop stress in many locations. With an already limited supply of crops, there’s little room for anything less than bumper crops – which, due to the weather, will be very unlikely.
Drought levels in the Americas are at their highest level since 2000, due to a combination of La Niña and negative Pacific Decadal Oscillation (-PDO). Both La Niña and -PDO refer to the pattern of ocean surface temperatures in the Pacific Ocean.
We’ve seen La Niña conditions for the past two years, defined as sea surface temperatures that are cooler than the average in the central and eastern parts of the equatorial Pacific. These conditions, combined with the cooler waters near the U.S. West Coast and warmer waters stretching to Japan, defined as a -PDO (Pacific Decadal Oscillation), are key factors in ongoing drought and increased heat risk in western U.S. and Canada.