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Journal Article

Emergent constraint on crop yield response to warmer temperature from field experiments


Wang,  Xuhui
External Organizations;

Zhao,  Chuang
External Organizations;


Müller,  Christoph
Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research;

Wang,  Chenzhi
External Organizations;

Ciais,  Philippe
External Organizations;

Janssens,  Ivan
External Organizations;

Peñuelas,  Josep
External Organizations;

Asseng,  Senthold
External Organizations;

Li,  Tao
External Organizations;

Elliott,  Joshua
External Organizations;

Huang,  Yao
External Organizations;

Li,  Laurent
External Organizations;

Piao,  Shilong
External Organizations;

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Wang, X., Zhao, C., Müller, C., Wang, C., Ciais, P., Janssens, I., Peñuelas, J., Asseng, S., Li, T., Elliott, J., Huang, Y., Li, L., Piao, S. (2020): Emergent constraint on crop yield response to warmer temperature from field experiments. - Nature Sustainability, 3, 11, 908-916.

Cite as: https://publications.pik-potsdam.de/pubman/item/item_24272
Responses of global crop yields to warmer temperatures are fundamental to sustainable development under climate change but remain uncertain. Here, we combined a global dataset of field warming experiments (48 sites) for wheat, maize, rice and soybean with gridded global crop models to produce field-data-constrained estimates on responses of crop yield to changes in temperature (ST) with the emergent-constraint approach. Our constrained estimates show with >95% probability that warmer temperatures would reduce yields for maize (−7.1 ± 2.8% K−1), rice (−5.6 ± 2.0% K−1) and soybean (−10.6 ± 5.8% K−1). For wheat, ST was 89% likely to be negative (−2.9 ± 2.3% K−1). Uncertainties associated with modelled ST were reduced by 12–54% for the four crops but data constraints do not allow for further disentangling ST of different crop types. A key implication for impact assessments after the Paris Agreement is that direct warming impacts alone will reduce major crop yields by 3–13% under 2 K global warming without considering CO2 fertilization effects and adaptations. Even if warming was limited to 1.5 K, all major producing countries would still face notable warming-induced yield reduction. This yield loss could be partially offset by projected benefits from elevated CO2, whose magnitude remains uncertain, and highlights the challenge to compensate it by autonomous adaptation.