International researchers have estimated almost NZ$92 billion worth of annual losses from crop production have been caused by pollution from ozone – a greenhouse gas – across East Asia.
The researchers set up 3,000 monitoring sites across the region to try to accurately quantify the damage resulting from the exposure of wheat, rice and corn crops to ozone.
The study, published in Nature Food, includes relative yield losses of those three major staple crops in Japan, China, and South Korea.
The surface concentration of the greenhouse gas in Asia is increasing and is expected to continue to do so as the demand for food rises.
Exposure to ozone pollution hinders crop growth and agricultural production, posing a risk to food security. Previous attempts to quantify these effects, however, have likely been biased by a lack of observational or experimental data.
Zhaozhong Feng and colleagues developed ozone exposure–response relationships for the three major crops, wheat, rice and maize, using experimental data from key production regions in Asia.
The authors supplemented this information with measurements of ozone in the air from over 3,000 monitoring sites in China, Japan and South Korea.
The highest relative yield losses were found in China — 33%, 23% and 9% for wheat, rice and maize, respectively.
Overall, total annual losses in crop production as a result of ozone pollution were estimated to be US$63 billion.
The authors conclude that the impact of ozone pollution on crop production underscores the need for stricter ozone emission controls and adaptive measures at the regional level.
Link to research (DOI): 10.1038/s43016-021-00422-6