9:29am Thursday 21st February 2013
Britain’s smallholders face significant challenges as a result of climate change, according to University of East Anglia climatologist Dr Clare Goodess.
Dr Goodes today forecast a trend towards warmer conditions with "more hot and very hot days" - which she says may offer new opportunities. But the variability of rainfall from season to season will also bring with it challenges for the future.
She warned of future extremes of weather that smallholders should be preparing for.
Dr Goodes said: "In 2012 farmers had to deal with the prospect of severe drought and water restrictions in the first three months, but by the end of the year the East Anglian region had received 129 per cent of average rainfall.
"There is some evidence of changes in rainfall variability over the last decade or so, including perhaps a tendency towards more heavy summer rainfall such as experienced in 2012.
"The trend towards warmer conditions is much stronger and is projected to continue – with more hot and very hot days, an increase in growing degree days and a reduction in frost days.
"While some of these temperature changes may offer new opportunities for the regions farmers, the suggested increase in the variability of rainfall, particularly from season to season, will bring challenges over the coming decades."
Dr Clare Goodess is a senior researcher at UEA's Climatic Research Unit. Her research interests include regional climate change projections, extreme weather events, and climate change impacts.
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