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Supplementary information files for Global reductions in manual agricultural work capacity due to climate change

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posted on 2024-01-31, 11:03 authored by Gerald C Nelson, Jennifer Vanos, George HavenithGeorge Havenith, Ollie Jay, Kristie L Ebi, Robert J Hijmans

(c) the authors, CC-BY 4.0

Supplementary files for article Global reductions in manual agricultural work capacity due to climate change

Manual outdoor work is essential in many agricultural systems. Climate change will make such work more stressful in many regions due to heat exposure. The physical work capacity metric (PWC) is a physiologically based approach that estimates an individual's work capacity relative to an environment without any heat stress. We computed PWC under recent past and potential future climate conditions. Daily values were computed from five earth system models for three emission scenarios (SSP1‐2.6, SSP3‐7.0, and SSP5‐8.5) and three time periods: 1991–2010 (recent past), 2041–2060 (mid‐century) and 2081–2100 (end‐century). Average daily PWC values were aggregated for the entire year, the growing season, and the warmest 90‐day period of the year. Under recent past climate conditions, the growing season PWC was below 0.86 (86% of full work capacity) on half the current global cropland. With end‐century/SSP5‐8.5 thermal conditions this value was reduced to 0.7, with most affected crop‐growing regions in Southeast and South Asia, West and Central Africa, and northern South America. Average growing season PWC could falls below 0.4 in some important food production regions such as the Indo‐Gangetic plains in Pakistan and India. End‐century PWC reductions were substantially greater than mid‐century reductions. This paper assesses two potential adaptions—reducing direct solar radiation impacts with shade or working at night and reducing the need for hard physical labor with increased mechanization. Removing the effect of direct solar radiation impacts improved PWC values by 0.05 to 0.10 in the hottest periods and regions. Adding mechanization to increase horsepower (HP) per hectare to levels similar to those in some higher income countries would require a 22% increase in global HP availability with Sub‐Saharan Africa needing the most. There may be scope for shifting to less labor‐intensive crops or those with labor peaks in cooler periods or shift work to early morning.

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