FACCE-JPI Knowledge Hub: MACSUR-Partner 154

Lead Research Organisation: University of Reading
Department Name: Sch of Agriculture Policy and Dev


FACCE MACSUR focuses on modelling European agriculture with climate change for food security. The work is organized in three themes on crop, livestock and trade modelling. The partnership consists of 73 partners from 16 countries all over Europe. The core scientific activity of MACSUR2 continuing from MACSUR1, will be to maintain up-to-date results on climate impacts on agriculture and food security in line with selected core global socio-economic and climate scenarios until 2050. These results will serve as point of reference for additional socioeconomic or climate scenarios, models at sub-national scales, and assessing specific adaptation or mitigation options by groups within MACSUR but also by external groups.

There is little effort directed at modelling the impacts of extreme weather events on the agrifood system. This may in part be because the interactions between climate extremes and the agrifood system are complex and understanding the significance of short term weather variability for society as a whole is still limited. The impacts will depend on (i) the effects of climate variability and extremes on primary production, be that crop or livestock, and (ii) on the way human actors and the food system respond by adapting to current and future climate risks. The food system has a degree of resilience: it is able to recover and deliver the demands of society within a reasonable period of time. The capacity for such adjustment is at present poorly understood however. The University of Reading will build capacity and understanding of approaches to conduct impact assessments for extreme events. We will be to develop a number of meaningful scenarios which can illustrate the way in which the food system will respond to an event. This will help to inform where modelling is needed to improve our understanding.

Technical Summary

XC8 will build on recent work co-ordinated by the Global Food Security programme which has developed extreme weather scenarios using climate models. The scenarios will provide a framework for considering the impacts of such events in Europe. Some indicative modelling will be conducted but the main focus will be identifying opportunities for more comprehensive modelling studies to be conducted.

Planned Impact

The project aims to improve our understanding of the uncertainties surrounding the ways in which European agriculture will adapt to and mitigate climate change. It is therefore of direct relevance to policy makers and the producers and users of food in the European Union. The project is very high profile and is certain to attract considerable interest from these communities as continues. In order to ensure that we able to meet this demand for information we will integrate dissemination within the project. A website has been developed and stakeholders are increasingly involved in the major events of the project.


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Description A cross-scale and cross-discipline approach is required to account for complexities in the food system. In summary, current integrated assessment modelling approaches do not typically operate at a fine enough temporal resolution to capture extreme events, or at a level of detail that is informative in guiding adaptation (e.g. crop variety), and current economic approaches use aggregating measures that do not account for variability within human populations. However, existing cross-scale, cross-discipline approaches do offer a useful template from which a new approach for extreme events could be developed. The Agricultural Model Intercomparison and Improvement Project (www.agmip.org) uses a case study approach that involves integrated assessment in eight regions within Sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia. These assessments are based on farm-household models, and climate impacts have been assessed with respect to farm productivity, farm income, as well as their adaptive capacity. The MACSUR project translates global scenarios on climate and socio-economic change into regional effects on agricultural production and farm income by linking crop and regional economic models. Both projects have so far focused on multi-year effects and average climate trends.
A regional case study approach as taken in these projects could provide a more comprehensive and sufficiently detailed coverage of diverse local outcomes due to large-scale socio-economic and climate changes (and specifically extreme events) in the future. This needs to be combined with an integrated assessment of biophysical and economic models that either operate at a finer temporal scale in order to apply and capture the effects of extreme events, or uses storyline-based extreme events informed by wargames with policymakers.
In current analyses there is no follow-up relating to local consequences for food access, utilization and stability. Consequently, further implications for migration, conflicts, human health and labour productivity are not derived. Current regional models with a focus on food and agriculture could be expanded by household scale research on household income, demographics, food availability, child undernutrition and health. With a sufficient number of regional case studies, there would also be the potential to generate the necessary feedbacks from local to global-level analysis, either through upscaling of knowledge generated from the detailed case studies, or from iterative feedback on basic assumptions in the different models, based on specific expertise at the different scales involved.
There is currently not a capability to understand the effects of extreme events on the food system as a whole. Without considering the likelihood and impacts of extreme events it is not sensible to compare the food security impacts 1.5°C warming versus 2°C warming. Developing an approach centred around extreme events should be considered a priority for the modelling community and policy makers because i) they can have catastrophic food security impacts, ii) unlike long term climate changes they could occur in the very short term, iii) at least some of the impacts can be avoided if appropriate adaptation and mitigation is taken.
Exploitation Route Further cross-scale and cross-disciplinary studies centred around extreme events
Sectors Agriculture, Food and Drink

Description European Climate Change Adaptation Conference June 2017 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Industry/Business
Results and Impact Presented during session on 'food security and supply chain resilience under a changing climate'. The food price spikes of 2008 and 2011 were significant factors in raising the profile of global food insecurity. The twin pressures of rapid population (and demographic) change and climate change mean that our food system is likely to be under more pressure than ever before over the next 20 years. This presentation discussed ways in which the food system can adapt to increased temperature and changes in the patterns of rainfall, and also considered the capacity within the system to respond to increasing common extreme weather conditions.

The changes in climate and population are taking place in a system which is increasingly complex and integrated. In some respects, this provides resilience as a consequence of the buffering capacity that is provided across regions. However, our limited understanding of the potential non-linearities in this complex system mean that there is a risk of there being presently unforeseen tipping points.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017
Description Participated in Smart Agriculture Conclave, India 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Other audiences
Results and Impact BBSRC and Government of India partnership Internation Conference on Agriculture. Involved in discussion group re key challenges for data collection to dissemination for farmzone.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017