April 2 (UPI) -- According to a new study, rising global temperatures will threaten many populations' access to affordable, nutritious food.
Global warming, or climate change, is expected to increase the frequency of extreme weather events, including droughts and floods.
"Such weather extremes can increase vulnerability to food insecurity," Richard Betts, a professor of climate science at the University of Exeter, said in a news release.
Betts and his colleagues designed a model to measure the impact of global warming of 1.5 and 2 degrees Celsius on extreme weather patterns and food insecurity in 122 developing nations, mostly in Asia, Africa and South America.
While an increased risk of flooding could curb agricultural yields in some parts of the world, prolonged droughts are the more threatening of the two weather extremes.
Drought risks are likely to be most pronounced in southern Africa and South America, while Asia could be at greater risk of flooding. If global temperatures rise by 2 degrees Celsius, the flow of the River Ganges could more than double.
Both extreme flooding and prolonged droughts could curb populations' access to clean drinking water, as well as food.
The new analysis, published this week in the journal Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society A, suggests food security risks can be minimized by curbing greenhouses gas emissions and slowing global warming.
"Some change is already unavoidable, but if global warming is limited to 1.5 degree Celsius, this vulnerability is projected to remain smaller than at 2 degrees Celsius in approximately 76 percent of developing countries," Betts said.