El Niño to Bring Big U.S. Harvests and Asian Food Shortages
The National Climate Prediction Center has raised its predicted probability of an El Niño weather pattern in the Northern Hemisphere to 90%, with an 80% probability that it will last throughout all of 2015. This pattern is expected to bring excessive rains across the southern U.S. and South America, and crop failures across Asia due to scorching heat.
A new study recently published in Nature Communications confirms a link between the El Niño Southern Oscillation weather pattern and wheat, rice, corn and soybean harvests.
El Niño years were found to see a negative impact on harvests in 22 to 24 growing regions, particularly in Asia, while having a positive impact in 30 to 36 growing regions, particularly in North America. Globally, El Niño was found to have an overall negative impact of between 0.8% and 4% on global harvests of wheat, corn, soy, and rice.
It has been 18 years since the last major El Niño event and many countries new to global markets may be ill-prepared, however, high global inventories will prevent any short term shortages. In the 1950’s, five years of El Niño led to a 30% decline in food supplies and a massive famine in China. If an El Niño persists for years, it could have an effect on food supplies and global prices.