Heat Waves and their effect on Agriculture
Heat waves are a state of hot weather when temperatures are more extreme than average targeting an area for two or more consecutive days. Heat waves form high pressure from 10,000–25,000 feet (3,000–7,600 meters)) strengthens and remains over a region for several days up to several weeks. High pressure systems are brought on by the flow of high speed jet streams converging over a specific location and causes air to be forced downward and warmed. The air is prevented from rising from the ground by this high pressure and acts like a dome capping the atmosphere, inhibiting convection, thereby trapping high humidity warm air below it. As a result, we experience heat waves. Because the air is being forced to the ground clouds cannot form, meaning no rain fall. The impact from this high-pressure system directly affects agriculture by causing droughts. Temperature increases due to climate change causes the jet stream to slow heat waves, keeping them static, resulting in no rain and long droughts.
Our agricultural resources are also under great strain. As of 2017, GISS (NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies) data shows global average temperatures rose 1.62oF, with a steady annual incline. Of the 0.4% of fresh water available to us, the agricultural industry that we depend on for food uses 70% of it to grow crops. With this amount of use, reserves of freshwater all around the world are being drained and places as close as the Colorado River are facing yearly droughts. The agricultural corporations are losing millions of dollars in produced goods because of changing soil quality, infrequent or shifting rain patterns and hostile growing conditions. GrainCorp Ltd, Australia’s largest bulk grain handler, saw its annual underlying net profit fall 50%. The data shows us that at our current mode of operation, our resources are not enough.
Drought in Argentina: Pictured, Argentina before and after a drought throughout the summer of 2018. The drought reduced the global supply of soybeans, one of the primary commodities used for livestock feed. Source: Earth Observatory, NASA (https://earthobservatory.nasa.gov/images/91999/a-costly-drought-in-argentina)
Heat waves and elevated mean temperatures are draining prime crop land like the one shown above all over the world, and although it is not seen in modern cities, it will be felt by the increased demand but reduced supply of resources due to decreased crop yield caused by extreme heat conditions