Vulnerability of European wheat to extreme heat and drought around flowering under future climate

A - Papers appearing in refereed journals

Senapati, N., Halford, N. G. and Semenov, M. A. 2021. Vulnerability of European wheat to extreme heat and drought around flowering under future climate. Environmental Research Letters. 16 (2), p. 024052.

AuthorsSenapati, N., Halford, N. G. and Semenov, M. A.

Identifying the future threats to crop yields from climate change is vital to underpin the continuous production increases needed for global food security. In the present study, the vulnerability of European wheat yield to heat and drought stresses around flowering under climate change was assessed by estimating the 95-percentiles of two indices at flowering under rain-fed conditions: the heat stress index (HSI95) and the drought stress index (DSI95). These two indices represent the relative yield losses due heat stress or drought stress around flowering that could be expected to occur once every 20 years on average. The Sirius wheat model was run under the predicted 2050-climate at 13 selected sites, representing the major wheat-growing regions in Europe. A total of 19 global climate models (GCMs) from the CMIP5 ensemble were used to construct local-scale climate scenarios for 2050 (RCP8.5) by downscaling GCMs climate projections with the LARS-WG weather generator. The mean DSI95 due to extreme drought around flowering under the baseline climate (1981–2010) was large over Europe (DSI95 ∼ 0.28), with wide site variation (DSI95 ∼ 0.0–0.51). A reduction of 12% in the DSI95 was predicted under the 2050-climate; however, vulnerability due to extreme drought around flowering would remain a major constraint to wheat yield (DSI95 ∼ 0–0.57). In contrast, HSI95 under the baseline climate was very small over Europe (HSI95 ∼ 0.0–0.11), but was predicted to increase by 79% (HSI95 ∼ 0.0–0.23) under the 2050-climate, categorising extreme heat stress around flowering as an emergent threat to European wheat production. The development of wheat varieties that are tolerant to drought and heat stresses around flowering, is required, if climate change is not to result in a reduction of wheat yield potential under the future climate in Europe.

KeywordsClimate change impacts; CMIP5 ensemble; Crop modelling; Drought stress; Heat stress; Food security; LARS-WG weather generator; Sirius wheat model; Wheat vulnerability
Year of Publication2021
JournalEnvironmental Research Letters
Journal citation16 (2), p. 024052
Digital Object Identifier (DOI)
Web address (URL)
Open accessPublished as ‘gold’ (paid) open access
FunderBiotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council
Natural Environment Research Council
Funder project or codeDesigning Future Wheat (DFW) [ISPG]
ASSIST - Achieving Sustainable Agricultural Systems
Publisher's version
Copyright license
CC BY 4.0
Accepted author manuscript
Supplemental file
Output statusPublished
Publication dates
Online11 Feb 2021
Publication process dates
Accepted18 Jan 2021
PublisherIOP Publishing Ltd

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