Erin Coughlan de Perez’s research highlighted by NBC News

Erin Coughlan de Perez and colleagues published their article “Potential for surprising heat and drought events in wheat-producing regions of USA and China” in the journal npj Climate and Atmospheric Science in June 2023. The article shows that we are likely underestimating climate risks to the food system. It assesses a worst-case scenario in which extreme weather hits two breadbasket regions in the same year: U.S. Midwest and northeastern China.

The research team ran climate models for the two areas and then compared the results with known physiological tolerances of the winter wheat grown in those regions. These models showed that heat waves that in 1981 were expected to affect the Midwest in only 1 out of 100 years are now likely every 6 years. In northeastern China, a 1-in-100 year heat wave is now expected every 16 years.

NBC News discusses the study in its June 2, 2023 article, “World’s wheat supply at risk of a dangerous shock due to heat and drought, study warns.” In the article, Erin explains “We’re suffering from a failure of imagination in terms of what this could look like…The whole point of imagining these serious consequences — we could take action to prevent them and build a more resilient system.”