Climate change and global crop yield: impacts, uncertainties and adaptation

Deryng, Delphine (2014) Climate change and global crop yield: impacts, uncertainties and adaptation. Doctoral thesis, University of East Anglia.

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As global mean temperature continues to rise steadily, agricultural systems are projected to face unprecedented challenges to cope with climate change. However, understanding of climate change impacts on global crop yield, and of farmers’ adaptive capacity, remains incomplete as previous global assessments: (1) inadequately evaluated the role of extreme weather events; (2) focused on a small subset of the full range of climate change predictions; (3) overlooked uncertainties related to the choice of crop modelling approach and; (4) simplified the representation of farming adaptation strategies. This research aimed to assess climate change impacts on global crop yield that accounts for the knowledge gaps listed above, based on the further development and application of the global crop model PEGASUS. Four main research topics are presented. First, I investigated the roles of extreme heat stress at anthesis on crop yield and uncertainties related to the use of seventy-two climate change scenarios. I showed large disparities in impacts across regions as extreme temperatures adversely affects major areas of crop production and lower income countries, the latter appear likely to face larger reduction in crop yields. Second, I coordinated the first global gridded crop model intercomparison study, comparing simulations of crop yield and water use under climate change. I found modelled global average crop water productivity increases by up to 17±20.3% when including carbon fertilisation effects, but decreases to –28±13.9% when excluding them; and identified fundamental uncertainties and gaps in our understanding of crop response to elevated carbon dioxide. Third, to link climate impacts with adaptation, I introduced the recently developed concept of representative agricultural pathways and examined their potential use in models to explore farming adaptation options within biophysical and socio-economic constraints. Finally, I explored tradeoffs between increasing nitrogen fertiliser use to close the global maize yield gap and the resulting nitrous oxide emissions. I found global maize production increases by 62% based on current harvested area using intensive rates of nitrogen fertiliser. This raises the share of nitrous oxide emissions associated with maize production from 20 to 32% of global cereal related emissions. Finally, these results demonstrated that in some regions increasing nitrogen fertiliser application, without addressing other limiting factors such as soil nutrient imbalance and water scarcity, could raise nitrous oxide emissions without enhancing crop yield.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Faculty \ School: Faculty of Science > School of Environmental Sciences
Depositing User: Stacey Armes
Date Deposited: 31 Oct 2014 14:26
Last Modified: 14 Jan 2015 09:22


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