Members’ Publications

Crop production losses associated with anthropogenic climate change for 1981–2010 compared with preindustrial levels

Iizumi T, Shiogama H., Imada Y., Hanasaki N., Takikawa H., Nishimori M.
Int. J. Climatol.

The accumulated evidence indicates that agricultural production is being affected by climate change. However, most of the available evidence at a global scale is based on statistical regressions. Corroboration using independent methods, specifically process-based modelling, is important for improving our confidence in the evidence. Here, we estimate the impacts of climate change on the global average yields of maize, rice, wheat and soybeans for 1981–2010, relative to the preindustrial climate. We use the results of factual and non-warming counterfactual climate simulations performed with an atmospheric general circulation model that do and do not include anthropogenic forcings to climate systems, respectively, as inputs into a global gridded crop model. The results of a 100-member ensemble climate and crop simulation suggest that climate change has decreased the global mean yields of maize, wheat and soybeans by 4.1, 1.8 and 4.5%, respectively, relative to the counterfactual simulation (preindustrial climate), even when carbon dioxide (CO2) fertilization and agronomic adjustments are considered. For rice, no significant impacts (−1.8%) are detected. The uncertainties in estimated yield impacts represented by the 90% probability interval that are derived from the ensemble members are −8.5 to +0.5% for maize, −8.4 to −0.5% for soybeans, −9.6 to +12.4% for rice and −7.5 to +4.3% for wheat. Based on the yield impacts, the estimates of average annual production losses throughout the world for the most recent years of the study (2005–2009) account for 22.3 billion USD (B$) for maize, 6.5 B$ for soybeans, 0.8 B$ for rice and 13.6 B$ for wheat. Our assessment confirms that climate change has modulated recent yields and led to production losses, and our adaptations to date have not been sufficient to offset the negative impacts of climate change, particularly at lower latitudes.