More drought predicted in food-producing regions

Updated at 9:27 am on 21 February 2009

A New Zealand climate scientist is warning that extreme droughts are likely to occur more frequently in some of the world's most important food-producing areas, as the effects of climate change worsen.

Jim Salinger, from the National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research, has been attending a meeting of international experts in Beijing, which has been reviewing the increasing frequency and severity of droughts and extreme temperatures around the world.

He says the recent heat wave and wildfires in Australia are partly a result of climate change, and these sorts of events are likely to become more frequent.

Northern and central China are suffering an unusual mid-winter drought at present, he says.

"Climate projections are pretty clear that there'll be increasing frequency of severe drought particulary in continental USA, the Mediterranean basin, northern China and across southern Africa, Australia and parts of South America," he says.

"A lot of these areas are important food-producting areas for the globe."

Dr Salinger says the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change predicts an increase of severe heat waves everywhere.

Next story in National: NZ High Commissioner at bushfire service in Melbourne