12 June 1998
Global warming under the microscope
GLOBAL warmings potential impact on UK agriculture is to be assessed as part of two new regional studies.
East Anglia and the north-west of England are to come under scrutiny in a two-year research project carried out by the UK Climate Change Impacts Programme, established by the Government last year.
It will be the first detailed look at the ways in which farmers may have to adapt as a result of a rise in global temperatures.
Previous studies have merely predicted an exaggeration of current climatic extremes with increased drought in East Anglia and increased flooding in the north west.
The new, more detailed, research will include examination of the impact of climate change on water resources, a study which will be of special interest to arable farmers in East Anglia, where water-dependent crops include sugar beet and potatoes.
New farming opportunities will also be assessed as well as potential for flooding and loss of coastal land as a result of sea-level rise.
Half the money for the £300,000 study is coming from MAFF, with 30% from Water UK, which represents regional water companies, and the remainder from the Department of the Environment, Transport and the Regions.
Diana Wilkins, an assistant MAFF scientific officer who is helping to co-ordinate the farming side of the research programme, said scientists had already studied the potential climate change effect on particular crops and pest species.
It was now time to take a broader look at the likely impact on farming generally, concentrating on two contrasting regions.
For this and other stories, see Farmers Weekly, 12-18 June, 1998