Predicting risks to minimize impacts

Climate impacts, including extreme weather events such as prolonged dry periods and severe floods, can have devastating consequences for food and nutrition security, contribute to the emergence of conflicts and drive migration. Anticipating climate risks is, therefore, needed to avoid or reduce impacts related to a hazard or to prepare for an effective response. This requires climate information at different time scales. Seasonal yield predictions can help in the short run to prevent and mitigate – to the extent possible – the effects of extreme weather events on food and nutrition security of the most vulnerable people. They provide information on expected food shortages some weeks or months prior to the harvest and can be integrated into early-warning systems and support disaster relief or humanitarian assistance. Long-term interventions, on the other hand, require information on climate change projections and their impacts on agriculture in the next decades. They can foster long-term risk reduction behaviour such as the adoption of better agricultural practices and contribute to climate-resilient food systems. In order to enable effective adaptation responses, a sound understanding of current local vulnerabilities is needed. They help to better understand the adaptive capacities of communities to overcome barriers to adaptation.

In an interdisciplinary and holistic approach, the anticipation pillar combines a variety of methods. Weather-driven (sub-)seasonal yield forecasts are based on statistical methods and machine learning. The impacts of long-term climate change are analysed using biophysical impact models. Based on climate projections for different greenhouse gas concentration scenarios, process-based crop models are used to assess projected changes in agricultural production. In addition, vulnerability assessments provide in-depth information on local vulnerabilities, including the adaptive capacity of vulnerable communities to respond to climate extremes. Additionally, we use qualitative analyses, including stakeholder interviews to better understand climate change impacts on conflicts and migration. Drawing on climate data, agricultural data, survey data and interviews amongst others allows for a comprehensive treatment of the complex nexus between climate change, agriculture, conflict, migration, and food and nutrition security.

If you would like to know more about our work on anticipation in the agricultural sector, please reach out to Dr. Rahel Laudien (