World-leading climate expert to speak in St Andrews

Friday 16 January 2015

By 2050 global warming is projected to cause a 20 per cent reduction in the yield of all of the major grains, world-leading international climate scientist Professor David Battisti will warn when he delivers a public lecture at the University of St Andrews next week (Thursday 22 January 2015).

Prof Battisti of the University of Washington will give the public lecture at 6pm on Thursday night at the University’s Medical and Biological Sciences Building at the North Haugh as part of his role as Visiting Carnegie Centenary Professor.

Entitled “Climate Change and Global Food Security”, Professor David Battisti’s presentation will focus on how changes will affect how the world grows major crops. Professor Louise Richardson, Principal of the University, will introduce the presentation.

Key to Prof Battisti’s talk will be the projection that by the end of the century, the season-averaged growing temperature will very likely exceed the highest temperature ever recorded throughout the tropics and subtropics. And by 2050, the increase in temperature alone is projected to cause a 20 per cent reduction in the yield of all of the major grains – maize, wheat, rice and soybeans.

Prof Battisti will discuss how the breadbasket countries in the mid-latitudes are expected to experience marked increases in year-to-year volatility in crop production. Increasing stresses on the major crops due to climate change, coupled with the increasing demand for food due to increasing population and development, present significant challenges to achieving global food security.

David Battisti is one of the world’s leading climate scientists, and has made seminal contributions in understanding the variability of the climate system and its impact on food production, and he regularly advises top level politicians on climate science.

He currently holds the Tamaki Endowed Chair of Atmospheric Sciences at the University of Washington, and is Carnegie Centennial Visiting Professor.

The lecture will take place at the University’s Medical and Biological Sciences Building at the North Haugh, on Thursday 22 January, 6-7pm and will be suitable for a general audience – all are welcome to attend.



Established in 2001 to mark the 100th year of the Carnegie Trust, the Visiting Professorship brings leading academics to Scotland for the benefit of the Scottish research community and general public.

A former Rector of the University of St Andrews, Carnegie donated much of the wealth he generated to help improve society, with a particular focus on education. This also led to the foundation of the Carnegie Trust for the University of Scotland in 1901.


Professor Battisti’s research is focused on understanding the natural variability of the climate system. He is especially interested in understanding how the interactions between the ocean, atmosphere, land and sea ice lead to variability in climate on seasonal to decadal time scales. His previous research includes coastal oceanography, the physics of the El Nino/Southern Oscillation (ENSO) phenomenon, and variability in mid-latitude atmosphere and ocean behaviour and the coupled atmosphere-sea ice system in the Arctic.

Prof Battisti has served on numerous international science panels, on Committees of the National Research Council, and has held prize lectureships at MIT, Harvard and Yale. He served for five years as co-chair of the Science Steering Committee for the US Program on Climate (US CLIVAR) and is co-author of several international science plans. He has published more than 100 papers in peer-review journals in atmospheric sciences and oceanography, and twice been awarded distinguished teaching awards.

Issued by the University of St Andrews Communications Office, contactable on 01334 462108 or [email protected].

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