A Masters student in MIT’s Technology and Policy Program, Joint Program research assistant Arthur Gueneau studies the impacts of climate change on agriculture. Originally from France, Arthur is driven by the question: “How do we feed the world? How do we feed nine billion people in 2050?” This is a particularly important question given changing climatic conditions.
Seeking to improve our understanding of how climate change will impact future agricultural yields, Arthur is currently in the process of validating a new model, called CliCrop, which calculates crop yields based upon climatic information. To do this, he plugs historical meteorological data for a given year into CliCrop and then compares the model’s projected crop yields with actual crop data that was recorded in that year. By comparing the model’s outputs with actual historical crop yield data, Arthur can verify how accurately the model calculates agricultural yield based upon climatic variables, such as precipitation and temperature.
His findings for far? “The model seems to be relevant; it seems to be working.”
Once CliCrop is validated, the next step will be to insert global climate projections into the model to see how future changes in precipitation and temperature will affect regional agricultural yields. Improving our understanding of how climate change will impact crop production throughout the world will allow us to better prepare for the effects of ‘climate stress’ on the food system and to develop new policies and adaptation strategies accordingly.
When asked about his work with the Joint Program, Arthur says, “I love what I am doing because it is really interesting and it has lots of impacts.” For this reason, he plans to continue studying the potential impacts of climate change on agriculture and is particularly interested in exploring possible adaptation strategies for increasing agricultural resilience to climate stress.