Analysis of Climate Change and Food Security

Space Research Institute NASU-NSAU

Problem statement

In 1991, following economic, social and political problems, the USSR disintegrated and Ukraine formed the new country. It has been immediately revealed that in addition to the already mentioned problems Ukraine has been also facing serious environmental troubles due to a dramatic and large-scale overexploitation of natural resources during USSR’s existence. As the result, in many areas land has been degraded considerably; shortages of water especially in dry years are very unbearable; air, water and land were polluted affecting human health; sea coasts have been degraded; excessive soil and wind erosion removed tons of productive soil etc. In addition, climate of Ukraine is dry with very frequent droughts, which create extra burden for the economy and especially for agriculture. As the time goes by, the situation was complicated by an increase in natural disasters and the needs for more water resources for industry, agriculture and human existence.

Additional problems have recently appeared due to an increase in the world average temperature. A warmer world have already resulted in alteration of surface physical properties and some regions which in turn led to changes in water and temperature regime, surface albedo, river flow and intensification of land degradation. All these changes have already affected human health, agriculture, available arable lands and forest resources, jeopardizing sustainable development and life of population. In order to monitor these disturbances a dense and high quality observation network is required. Ukraine has presently nearly 180 weather stations for the area of 223,000 sq miles, approximately one station per 1,200 sq miles, which is a large area for efficient monitoring climate impacts on socioeconomic activities.

Recent advances in satellite technology, improvement in ground-based environmental observations and socioeconomic records permitted to make more comprehensive analysis about consequences of intensification of natural disaster and their impacts on economy and agriculture. Unfortunately, Ukraine does not have these assessments due to an absence of long-term data records characterizing the impacts and future tendencies in climate parameters, land cover changes provided by satellite data and agricultural activities.

Climate also produces strong impact on agriculture and food supply and demand. However, the least known fact is how the changing climate will affect food supply and demand in Ukraine. Besides, global climate has already been warming leading to some changes on the Earth, including Ukraine. However, is climate in all Ukrainian grain producing regions warming as well and what effect it makes on grain production tendencies? At the background of global warming, what precipitation tendencies will be in Ukraine? Will drought be more frequent, intensive and cover larger area in a warmer regional climate, and how they will deteriorate food supply? These and other questions require to be addressed at the global and regional levels.

Therefore, the overall goal of the project is to analyze climate change & food security based on remote sensing & in situ data sets. These data belong to different systems and must be combined together in order to address the issues discussed above. Some efforts to combine data sets from different systems have been already initiated with the development of the Global Earth Observing System of Systems (GEOSS). However, the current GEOSS (2009) is lacking regional observational systems combining satellite-based land surface observation, climate data and socioeconomic characteristics. Having such system will permit produce current and future assessments in climate and land parameters and also agricultural tendencies.

To achieve the main goal several concrete objectives will be followed:

  • Develop a system containing long-term remote sensing and in situ data sets characterizing climate, land cover and agricultural parameters.
  • Identify current trend and future trends in climate, land cover and agricultural parameters.
  • Model agricultural production in response to climate and land cover.
  • Early warning such natural disasters as drought and low temperature in winter affecting food security in Ukraine.