Methodology to assess the changing risk of yield failure due to heat and drought stress under climate change

A - Papers appearing in refereed journals

Stella, T., Webber, H., Olesen, J. E., Ruane, A. C., Fronzek, S., Bregaglio, S., Mamidanna, S., Bindi, M., Collins, B., Faye, B., Ferrise, R., Fodor, N., Gabaldon-Leal, C., Jabloun, M., Kersebaum, K-C., Lizaso, J. I., Lorite, I. J., Manceau, L., Martre, P., Nendel, C., Rodriguez, A., Ruiz-Ramos, M., Semenov, M. A., Stratonovitch, P. and Ewert, F. 2021. Methodology to assess the changing risk of yield failure due to heat and drought stress under climate change. Environmental Research Letters. 16 (10), p. 104033. https://doi.org/10.1088/1748-9326/ac2196

AuthorsStella, T., Webber, H., Olesen, J. E., Ruane, A. C., Fronzek, S., Bregaglio, S., Mamidanna, S., Bindi, M., Collins, B., Faye, B., Ferrise, R., Fodor, N., Gabaldon-Leal, C., Jabloun, M., Kersebaum, K-C., Lizaso, J. I., Lorite, I. J., Manceau, L., Martre, P., Nendel, C., Rodriguez, A., Ruiz-Ramos, M., Semenov, M. A., Stratonovitch, P. and Ewert, F.
Abstract

While the understanding of average impacts of climate change on crop yields is improving, few assessments have quantified expected impacts on yield distributions and the risk of yield failures. Here we present the relative distribution as a method to assess how the risk of yield failure due to heat and drought stress (measured in terms of return period between yields falling 15% below previous five year Olympic average yield) responds to changes of the underlying yield distributions under climate change. Relative distributions are used to capture differences in the entire yield distribution between baseline and climate change scenarios, and to further decompose them into changes in the location and shape of the distribution. The methodology is applied here for the case of rainfed wheat and grain maize across Europe using an ensemble of crop models under three climate change scenarios with simulations conducted at 25 km resolution. Under climate change, maize generally displayed shorter return periods of yield failures (with changes under RCP 4.5 between −0.3 and 0 years compared to the baseline scenario) associated with a shift of the yield distribution towards lower values and changes in shape of the distribution that further reduced the frequency of high yields. This response was prominent in the areas characterized in the baseline scenario by high yields and relatively long return periods of failure. Conversely, for wheat, yield failures were projected to become less frequent under future scenarios (with changes in the return period of −0.1 to +0.4 years under RCP 4.5) and were associated with a shift of the distribution towards higher values and a change in shape increasing the frequency of extreme yields at both ends. Our study offers an approach to quantify the changes in yield distributions that drive crop yield failures. Actual risk assessments additionally require models that capture the variety of drivers determining crop yield variability and scenario climate input data that samples the range of probable climate variation.

KeywordsClimate risk assessment; Climate change impact; Wheat; Maize; Crop model; Relative distribution
Year of Publication2021
JournalEnvironmental Research Letters
Journal citation16 (10), p. 104033
Digital Object Identifier (DOI)https://doi.org/10.1088/1748-9326/ac2196
Open accessPublished as ‘gold’ (paid) open access
FunderBiotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council
Funder project or codeDesigning Future Wheat (DFW) [ISPG]
Publisher's version
Output statusPublished
Publication dates
Online06 Oct 2021
Publication process dates
Accepted26 Aug 2021
PublisherIOP Publishing Ltd
ISSN1748-9326

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