The direct effects of climate change that are best understood are the impacts of temperature, the hydrological cycle, and sea-level rise. The increase in globally-averaged temperatures by mid-century will potentially boost production in temperate climates by expanding arable land, lengthening growing seasons, and increasing yields. Negative impacts are likely to affect the world's poorest countries, where plants are already suffering from temperature and water stress. Due to their geography, low incomes, and importance of the agricultural sector, developing countries are more exposed economically to the risks from climate change.
Sub-Saharan Africa stands out as an already famine-stricken region, with the potential of putting an additional 10 million people at famine risk, increasing stress on already fragile political and economic systems. Some shortfalls during periods of famine could be met by imports, assuming functioning markets (not always be a valid assumption). Parts of South Asia responsible for a major share of global rice production are expected to experience drier, warmer climates, although these effects are expected to be significant only after 2050.
Rising sea levels increase the risk of coastal flooding. The largest flood risk and saltwater intrusion potential is in south and Southeast Asia. Vegetable production, aquaculture below sea-level, and coastal fisheries are going to be most severely affected. The effects from rising sea levels are amplified by increased anticipated short periods of extreme rainfall, as well as on and offshore storm episodes. Rising sea levels will negatively impact food security in south Asia, coastal zones in Africa, as well as island-states worldwide. Major affected food production centers in delta regions are found in Vietnam, Bangladesh, India, and Thailand. In some areas, coastal land can be replaced by converting upland areas with increased temperatures to agricultural land, although population movement towards urban centers at coasts and in delta regions may result in large negative impacts for the small farm production sector. Saltwater intrusion may further negatively impact irrigation systems in coastal areas. Rising sea levels may displace as many as 200 million people by mid-century. By the end of the century, 20 percent of Bangladesh could be flooded, if sea levels were to rise by 39 in. (100 cm.).
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