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Swedish farmers need help to face climate change

Published torsdag 9 augusti 2012 kl 15.25
Flooding in Småland in July. Photo: Mikael Fritzon/Scanpix

Farmers have seen their crops damaged by this year's rainy summer, and the situation is only going to get worse, say researchers. A new project from the meteorological office aims at defending Swedish farmers from the effects of climate change.

This July was one of the wettest ever. And this kind of threat to Swedish farming is likely to grow during the coming years.

Thursday's edition of Dagens Nyheter reports how the country's weather forecasters, the SMHI, are setting up a new project to tackle this issue.
It is a costly problem. The Swedish farmers' association, the LRF, says that the damage to the harvest may cost around a billion Swedish kronor (US$150 million).

This is not the first time Swedish farmers have faced this kind of water damage. There have been floods several times during the last ten years.
Meteorologist Pär Holmgren says to Dagens Nyheter that this summer's floods are probably a direct consequence of ongoing climate change. The last 20 years have been wetter across the whole of Sweden, and this is exactly what he would expect, as a result of global warming.

So a way to counter this is to set up a national warning system. This is what researchers at the SMHI are now working on. Pär Holmgren says that right now farmers can get flood warnings once a day. The aim is that in the future weather watchers will give flood predictions four to six times a day.

The Swedish Board of Agriculture is also trying to help farmers brace themselves for the expected effects of global warming.

Avoid monoculture by growing several kinds of crops is one piece of advice. Another is to dig more flood barriers, says Tomas Johansson, at the Board of Agriculture, to Dagens Nyheter.

The effects of global warming will not be purely negative for Swedish farmers. Pär Holmgren says that in the short term - during the next 10 to 20 years - there will be a boost for Swedish growers. Farming will be possible for longer periods, as the growing season lengthens due to milder weather. It might even be possible to try some new crops, that could not previously survive in this Nordic nation.

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