U.S. Department of Energy Office of Biological and Environmental Research

BER Research Highlights

Response of Corn Markets to Climate Volatility Under Alternative Energy Futures
Published: April 22, 2012
Posted: May 24, 2012

Recent price spikes have raised concerns that climate change could increase food insecurity by reducing grain yields in coming decades. However, commodity price volatility is also influenced by other factors, which may either exacerbate or buffer the effects of climate change. DOE-funded research reveals that U.S. corn price volatility exhibits higher sensitivity to near-term climate change than to energy policy influences or agriculture-energy market integration, and that the presence of a biofuels mandate enhances the sensitivity to climate change by more than 50%. The climate change impact is driven primarily by intensification of severe hot conditions in the primary corn-growing region of the United States, which causes U.S. corn price volatility to increase sharply in response to global warming projected over the next three decades. Closer integration of agriculture and energy markets moderates the effects of climate change, unless the biofuels mandate becomes binding, in which case corn price volatility is exacerbated. Despite the substantial impact on U.S. corn price volatility, the researchers observed a relatively small impact on food prices. Overall, results suggest that energy markets and associated policy decisions could substantially exacerbate the impacts of climate change, even for the relatively modest levels of global warming that are likely to occur over the near-term decades.

Reference: Diffenbaugh, N. S., T. W. Hertel, M. Scherer, and M. Verma. 2012. "Response of Corn Markets to Climate Volatility Under Alternative Energy Futures," Nature Climate Change, DOI: 10.1038/NCLIMATE1491. (Reference link)

Contact: Bob Vallario, SC 23.1, (301) 903-5758
Topic Areas:

  • Research Area: Multisector Dynamics (formerly Integrated Assessment)

Division: SC-23.1 Climate and Environmental Sciences Division, BER


BER supports basic research and scientific user facilities to advance DOE missions in energy and environment. More about BER

Recent Highlights

Aug 24, 2019
New Approach for Studying How Microbes Influence Their Environment
A diverse group of scientists suggests a common framework and targeting of known microbial processes [more...]

Aug 08, 2019
Nutrient-Hungry Peatland Microbes Reduce Carbon Loss Under Warmer Conditions
Enzyme production in peatlands reduces carbon lost to respiration under future high temperatures. [more...]

Aug 05, 2019
Amazon Forest Response to CO2 Fertilization Dependent on Plant Phosphorus Acquisition
AmazonFACE Model Intercomparison. The Science Plant growth is dependent on the availabi [more...]

Jul 29, 2019
A Slippery Slope: Soil Carbon Destabilization
Carbon gain or loss depends on the balance between competing biological, chemical, and physical reac [more...]

Jul 15, 2019
Field Evaluation of Gas Analyzers for Measuring Ecosystem Fluxes
How gas analyzer type and correction method impact measured fluxes. The Science A side- [more...]

List all highlights (possible long download time)