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Journal Article

Compound heat and moisture extreme impacts on global crop yields under climate change


Lesk,  Coray
External Organizations;

Anderson,  Weston
External Organizations;

Rigden,  Angela
External Organizations;

Coast,  Onoriode
External Organizations;


Jägermeyr,  Jonas
Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research;

McDermid,  Sonali
External Organizations;

Davis,  Kyle F.
External Organizations;

Konar,  Megan
External Organizations;

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Lesk, C., Anderson, W., Rigden, A., Coast, O., Jägermeyr, J., McDermid, S., Davis, K. F., Konar, M. (2022): Compound heat and moisture extreme impacts on global crop yields under climate change. - Nature Reviews Earth & Environment, 3, 12, 872-889.

Cite as: https://publications.pik-potsdam.de/pubman/item/item_27619
Extreme heat, drought and moisture excess are increasingly co-occurring within a single growing season, impacting crop yields in global breadbasket regions. In this Review, we synthesize understanding of compound heat and moisture extremes, their impacts on global crop yields and implications for adaptation. Heat and moisture extremes and their impacts become compounded through crop-physiological interactions, heat–moisture couplings in the climate system and crop–atmosphere interactions. Since around 2000, these compound extremes, and hot droughts in particular, have been linked to especially poor harvests (up to 30% yield losses) in regions such as India, Ethiopia, the USA, Europe and Russia. However, in some cases, combinations of crop stresses might generate compensating effects. Compound extremes are projected to increase in frequency and amplitude in the future, but, owing to the biophysical interdependence among temperature, water and crop physiology, the net yield effects of such future compound extremes remain uncertain. Accordingly, compound extremes will necessitate comprehensive agricultural adaptation strategies geared towards multi-stress resilience, as adaptations that work for single climate stresses could be maladaptive under combined stresses. An integrated understanding of heat and water in soil–plant–atmosphere dynamics is urgently needed to understand risks and suitably adapt cropping systems to compounding climate impacts.