Global warming will result in "severe crop losses" in Asia and Africa over the next two decades, affecting some of the world's poorest regions, according to a new study by researchers in Stanford University's Program on Food Security and the Environment (FSE).
The study will be published Feb. 1 in the journal Science.
"The majority of the world's 1 billion poor depend on agriculture for their livelihoods," said lead author David Lobell, senior research scholar at FSE.
"Unfortunately, agriculture is also the human enterprise most vulnerable to changes in climate," he added. "Understanding where these climate threats will be greatest, for what crops and on what time scales, will be central to our efforts at fighting hunger and poverty over the coming decades."
The study looked at crop harvests, temperature and rainfall in 12 regions, including much of Asia, sub-Saharan Africa, the Caribbean, and Central and South America.
Affects on crop yield look especially dire in Southern Africa and South Asia, according to the study.
In some areas, average temperatures could rise 1.8 degrees Fahrenheit by 2030 and seasonal precipitation is expected to decrease in South Asia, Southern Africa, Central America and Brazil.
"We were surprised by how much and how soon these regions could suffer if we don't adapt," co-author Marshall Burke of FSE said. "For example, our study suggests that Southern Africa could lose more than 30 percent of its main crop, maize, in the next two decades, with possibly devastating implications for hunger in the region."