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Future energy crops in Brazil: An analysis of the impact of climate change on rainfall and agriculture

Cassanti, Ana Clara (2019) Future energy crops in Brazil: An analysis of the impact of climate change on rainfall and agriculture. Research Project 1, Energy and Environmental Sciences.

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Climate change is a topic of extreme importance, and it has been leading to several studies in which consider the possible changes that may happen in the future society and how to overcome those changes. In 2015, 195 countries signed the Paris agreement in which they committed to helping in the reduction of the global temperature. To be able to reach these reduction changes are needed, such as in consumption patterns, deforestation, change in the energy mix. Concerning the energy mix, it changes considerably per country. Brazil is a compelling case, once that more than 40% of it comes from renewables (especially hydro biomass). However, due to changes in the population patterns in the country, the increase of renewables will be necessary for Brazil, therefore strategies need to be considered. Studies point out that bioenergy is one of the best choices for the country due to its accessibility in the future. Brazilian National reports indicate an increase in the grown of crops by 30% until 2025. However, those account only the land availability and not the possible changes in the climate that may occur in the future. Therefore, the literature shows studies that examine possible changes in the temperature and how it would affect the crops production in Brazil. On the other hand, additional factors are essential for the growth of crops, such as precipitation (used significantly in Brazil once that the crops are mainly rainfed). So, this study aims to estimate the availability of crops in 2050 that can be used as an energy source in Brazil, regarding possible changes in the rainfall patterns due to climate change. For that, it is used the soil water balance method, by means of an excel model that analyzes the availability of water in the soil (ARM) considering for four types of crops (rice, sugarcane, maize, and soybeans), in the five Brazilian macro-regions (North, Northeast, Mideast, Southeast, and South) and three types of soil (sandy, medium and clay texture). Firstly, two observational analysis (using data from 1997 until 2017) verify the correlation between the ARM and the yields of the four types of crops to check which kind of crop, soil, and region show the most significant correlation. Those analyses point out that the crop that is more affected by the availability of water in the soil (which considers rainfall and temperature patterns) is the soybeans, especially in the South macro-region of Brazil. There is no statistical significance among types of soil, the other macro-regions or between the other crops (rice, maize, and sugarcane). Also, a future scenario analysis (using the IPCC RCP scenarios 4.5 – moderate and 8.5 – high GHG emissions) extrapolates values for ARM, and by making use of the trends of the observational analyses make projections of soybeans yields by 2050. It verifies that the South region of Brazil will be the most affected by the decrease of availability of water in the soil and it will mainly disturb the growth of the soybeans (leading to a reduction of more than 10 Mt of the production of the southern states of Brazil). In conclusion, there is potential for the use of crops as bioenergy in the future in Brazil when considering the amount of precipitation in the future if considering sugarcane, maize, and rice. On the other hand, soybeans (in the South macro-region of Brazil) may suffer the impacts of climate change. Also, due to possible changes in the precipitation, it might lead to geographical changes in the production of crops, as well as investments in adaptative strategies, such as irrigation.

Item Type: Thesis (Research Project 1)
Supervisor nameSupervisor E mail
Degree programme: Energy and Environmental Sciences
Thesis type: Research Project 1
Language: English
Date Deposited: 03 Apr 2019
Last Modified: 04 Apr 2019 12:33

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