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Agriculture In Central Siberia Would Likely Benefit From Climate Warming

Humans have traditionally cultivated steppe and forest-steppe on fertile soils for agriculture. Forests are predicted to shift northwards in a warmer climate and are likely to be replaced by forest-steppe and steppe ecosystems.

We analyzed potential climate change impacts on agriculture in south-central Siberia believing that agriculture in traditionally cold Siberia may benefit from warming. Simple models determining crop range and regression models determining crop yields were constructed and applied to climate change scenarios for various time frames: pre-1960, 1960–90 and 1990–2010 using historic data and data taken from 2020 and 2080 HadCM3 B1 and A2 scenarios.

From 50 to 85% of central Siberia is predicted to be climatically suitable for agriculture by the end of the century, and only soil potential would limit crop advance and expansion to the north. Crop production could increase twofold. Future Siberian climatic resources could provide the potential for a great variety of crops to grow that previously did not exist on these lands. Traditional Siberian crops could gradually shift as far as 500 km northwards (about 50–70 km/decade) within suitable soil conditions, and new crops nonexistent today may be introduced in the dry south that would necessitate irrigation.

Agriculture in central Siberia would likely benefit from climate warming. Adaptation measures would sustain and promote food security in a warmer Siberia.

 

Environmental Research Letters.