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New Science Brief: Crop Yield Under Climate Change and Adaptation

PCIC is pleased to announce the release of our next Science Brief. PCIC Science Briefs are a regular series of brief reports on recent climate science literature, relevant to stakeholders in the Pacific and Yukon Region of Canada. PCIC has developed these briefs because we recognize the need for a bridge between the cutting edge of climate science research and the various stakeholders who need access to this knowledge, in plain-language reports, filtered for regional relevance, and suitable for consideration in planning and adaptation. The PCIC Science Briefs contextualize and explain the results and implications of important scientific findings.
This Science Brief covers two papers in the journals Nature Climate Change and Science, on how crop yield may be affected by climate change and adaptation. The first paper is a meta-analysis of 1,722 crop yield simulations under six emissions scenarios by Challinor et al. (2014). The authors find that, without adaptation, projected corn, rice and wheat production is reduced when areas experience 2.0 °C or more of local warming and that crop-level adaptations are projected to be able to increase yields when compared to similar scenarios that do not utilize adaptation. Projections indicate that adaptation may be more successful for wheat and rice than for corn and that yield variability is likely to increase.

The second paper, by Lobell and colleagues (2014) uses using field-level data from the central US and simulations from the Agricultural Productions Systems Simulator (APSIM) model to determine the sensitivity of corn yield to drought stress. They find that though corn yield has increased over the historical period, the sensitivity of the yields to drought stress has also increased and that the largest factor contributing to drought sensitivity are changes in vapour pressure deficit. Lobell et al. note that if the sensitivity of corn yields to vapour pressure deficit remains constant or increases, then yields may decrease.   
Read this Science Brief

Challinor, A.J., J. Watson, D. B. Lobell, S. M. Howden, D. R. Smith, and N. Chhetri, 2014: A meta-analysis of crop yield under climate change and adaptation. Nature Climate Change, 4, 287–291, doi:10.1038/nclimate2153.

Lobell, D.B., M.J. Roberts, W. Schlenker, N. Braun, B.B. Little, R.M. Rejesus, G.L. Hammer, 2014: Greater sensitivity to drought accompanies maize yield increase in the U.S. midwest. Science, 344, 6183, 516-519, doi: 10.1126/science.1251423.