Nov 17, 2010

Climate change and agricultural vulnerability: a case study of rain-fed wheat in Kairouan, Central Tunisia

Raoudha Mougou, Mohsen Mansour, Ana Iglesias, Rim Zitouna Chebbi, Antonella Battaglini
Regional Environmental Change
  • States water resources for agriculture in Tunisia are scarce and, due to arid and semiarid climatic conditions, the rate of evapotranspiration is high
  • States that projected warming, changes in climate variability and precipitation patterns, combined with higher evapotranspiration rates, could severely disturb agricultural practices and translate in crop failure, crop quality and quantity losses and lower the level of food security (according to the Human Development Index (HDI), North Africa and Tunisia are considered to have a medium–low food security)
  • This case study in the Kairouan region indicates that any increase in temperature during the wheat growing season will have a direct impact on water availability and on crop production
  • Analyzes climatic data series (minimum and maximum temperature, minimum and maximum humidity, rainfall, wind speed, solar radiation) from 1950 to 2004 (or for shorter periods when the complete data series were not available)
  • Evaluates the agroclimatic water balance (rainfall minus wheat water requirements) to emphasize the underlying agroclimatic drought episodes that affect the wheat production in the Kairouan region
  • Assesses projected climate change impacts on climatic indices, reference evapotranspiration, wheat yield and wheat growing season duration for different climate scenarios
  • Findsings suggest it is essential that projected levels of temperature increase and other climate change for Tunisia are carefully considered due to the potentially very severe consequences for the socioeconomic development and social stability