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India's rice harvests have been declining due to global warming: Study

Source: Toxics Link, Date: , 2007

A U.S. research claims that India's rice harvests have been declining since the 1980s owing to polluted clouds shrouding most of South Asia and in the process reducing sunlight and rainfall.

Researchers used climate models and historical data on Indian rice harvests in the study, which was reported in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

"We found if there had been no atmospheric brown clouds between 1985 and 1998, the annual rice harvest yield would have been 11 per cent higher than it was," Maximilian Auffhammer of the University of California, Berkeley, was quoted as saying in a media release.

Auffhammer noted that the cooler nighttime temperatures caused by the clouds were beneficial, but the decreased rainfall more than negated this benefit. Additionally, the cooler temperatures may have masked the effects of greenhouse gases in the past.

The research suggested claimed that by reducing the clouds alone, or reducing them in concert with lowered greenhouse gasses, would benefit rice output. The study only focused on farming regions that relied on rain for their crops, Auffhammer added, so the benefits would be less noticeable in areas with other irrigation options.

The research team announced that they would now look into studying China, Indonesia and other countries with polluted atmospheres.

However, the Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR) stated that the research did not give it immediate cause for concern.