Extreme temperatures sparked by global warming have exacerbated the impact of a historic drought on Argentina’s agricultural production, according to young scientists from several countries who participate in the academic initiative, World Weather Attribution.
Argentina, a key global provider of food, has suffered from a series of heatwaves in recent months that, combined with a prolonged shortage of water, has prompted analysts to dramatically cut their forecasts for soybeans, maize and wheat, the country’s principal crops.
Although the shortage of water can be explained by the La Niña weather phenomenon, a cooling of the equatorial Pacific which reduces rainfall in parts of Argentina, scientists from the WWA said that the extreme temperatures were a product of global warming.
“The region is experiencing intense heat waves, which climate change has made more frequent, intense, and longer,” a WWA statement said. It added that the scientists have found that climate change caused by human activity made extreme temperatures in December 60 times more likely.
Last week, a large part of Argentina’s agricultural land suffered a renewed heatwave which lasted for several days and rapidly consumed the precipitation that had fallen in late January and February in the areas that were in desperate need of water.
“Higher temperatures in the region at the end of 2022, which have been attributed to climate change, reduced available water in the models, indicating that climate change probably reduced the availability of water during this period, making the agricultural drought worse,” the WWA said.
Argentina is the world’s main exporter of soy oil and soy flour, but last week the Rosario Stock Exchange cut its harvest forecast for the grain to 34.5 million tonnes, the lowest figure in 14 years, because of the impact of the drought.