The Fourth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC 2007) emphatically shows that the Earth's climate is changing in a manner unprecedented in the past 400,000 years. By the end of 2100, the mean planet-wide surface temperatures will rise by 1.4-5.8°C, precipitation will decrease in the sub-tropics, and extreme events will become more frequent (IPCC 2007). However, changes in climate are already being observed - the last 60 years were the warmest in the last 1000 years and changes in precipitation patterns have brought greater incidence of floods or drought globally. These predicted changes are largely driven by increasing atmospheric concentrations of greenhouse gases, such as CO2, CH4 and N2O. These changes will affect the agro-climatic conditions for food production systems worldwide. Just as the production ecosystems are influenced by these changes, the agricultural activities also contribute to these changes by unsustainable utilization of natural resources, altered biogeochemical cycling of nutrients, and emission of greenhouse gases.
IPCC, in its third assessment report, itself has demonstrated that the global climate changed significantly during the 20th Century, and it may continue to change more precipitously in the coming centuries, irrespective of whether attempts at mitigation through implementation of the Kyoto Protocol to UNFCCC (United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change) are successful (IPCC 2001). The magnitude and direction of change in the various climate elements will differ from one major region to the other; these changes can be beneficial in certain regions and detrimental elsewhere. But, the less developed countries and regions are likely to
Division of Biochemistry, Plant Physiology and Environmental Sciences, Central Rice Research Institute Cuttack 753006, India e-mail: [email protected]
S.N. Singh (ed.), Climate Change and Crops, Environmental Science and Engineering, DOI 10.1007/978-3-540-88246-6.3. © Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2009
experience the worst of the consequences of climate change, partly because of negative changes in water availability in the tropical regions and partly because the communities concerned are poorly equipped to adapt. The major sector, that will be exposed to the potential negative changes in climate, is food production. While trying to roll back climate change through the implementation of the Kyoto Protocol, the formulation of strategies for living with changing global climate becomes imperative. Such strategies will require a better understanding of the observed impacts of climate variability and the potential impacts of predicted changes.
Besides concerns about the changing climate, the demand for higher level of control over environment in which plants grow is, otherwise, also increasing due to intensive agriculture. These controls can range from better strategies of soil management to "closed" environments, where most, if not all, the atmospheric and soil variables can be adjusted. It becomes essential to have the plant growth and development models, to make a basis for planning and managing crop production. The crop modeling can also be useful as a means to help the scientists define research priorities. Using the models to estimate the importance and the effect of certain parameters, a researcher can observe which factors should be more studied in future research to increase the understanding of the system.
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