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Journal Article

Model-based reconstruction and projections of soil moisture anomalies and crop losses in Poland


Piniewski,  Mikolaj
Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research;

Marcinkowski,  Paweł
External Organizations;

O’Keeffe,  Joanna
External Organizations;

Szcześniak,  Mateusz
External Organizations;

Nieróbca,  Anna
External Organizations;

Kozyra,  Jerzy
External Organizations;


Kundzewicz,  Zbigniew W.
Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research;

Okruszko,  Tomasz
External Organizations;

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Piniewski, M., Marcinkowski, P., O’Keeffe, J., Szcześniak, M., Nieróbca, A., Kozyra, J., Kundzewicz, Z. W., Okruszko, T. (2020): Model-based reconstruction and projections of soil moisture anomalies and crop losses in Poland. - Theoretical and Applied Climatology, 140, 1-2, 691-708.

Cite as: https://publications.pik-potsdam.de/pubman/item/item_25218
Evidence shows that soil moisture (SM) anomalies (deficits or excesses) are the key factor affecting crop yield in rain-fed agriculture. Over last decades, Poland has faced several major droughts and at least one major soil moisture excess event leading to severe crop losses. This study aims to simulate the multi-annual variability of SM anomalies in Poland, using a process-based SWAT model and to assess the effect of climate change on future extreme SM conditions, potentially affecting crop yields in Poland. A crop-specific indicator based on simulated daily soil moisture content for the critical development stages of investigated crops (winter cereals, spring cereals, potato and maize) was designed, evaluated for past conditions against empirical crop-weather indices (CWIs), and applied for studying future climate conditions. The study used an ensemble of nine bias-corrected EURO-CORDEX projections for two future horizons: 2021–2050 and 2071–2100 under two Representative Concentration Pathways: RCP4.5 and 8.5. Historical simulation results showed that SWAT was capable of capturing major SM deficit and excess episodes for different crops in Poland. For spring cereals, potato and maize, despite a large model spread, projections generally showed increase of severity of soil moisture deficits, as well as of total area affected by them. Ensemble median fraction of land with extreme soil moisture deficits, occupied by each of these crops, is projected to at least double in size. The signals of change in soil moisture excesses for potato and maize were more dependent on selection of RCP and future horizon.