Title: Wheat yield loss attributable to heat waves, drought and water excess on the global, national and subnational scales.
Citation: ENVIRONMENTAL RESEARCH LETTERS vol. 12 no. 6 p. 081001
Publication Year: 2017
JRC N°: JRC106761
ISSN: 1748-9326
URI: http://iopscience.iop.org/article/10.1088/1748-9326/aa723b/meta
DOI: 10.1088/1748-9326/aa723b
Type: Articles in periodicals and books
Abstract: Heat waves and drought are often considered the most damaging climatic stressors for wheat. In this study, we characterize and attribute the effects of these climate extremes on wheat yield anomalies (at global and national scales) from 1980 to 2010. Using a combination of up-to-date heat wave and drought indexes (the latter capturing both excessively dry and wet conditions), we have developed a composite indicator that is able to capture the spatio-temporal characteristics of the underlying physical processes in the different agro-climatic regions of the world. At the global level, our diagnostic explains a significant portion (more than 40%) of the inter-annual production variability. By quantifying the contribution of national yield anomalies to global fluctuations, we have found that just two concurrent yield anomalies affecting the larger producers of the world could be responsible for more than half of the global annual fluctuations. The relative importance of heat stress and drought in determining the yield anomalies depends on the region. Moreover, in contrast to common perception, water excess affects wheat production more than drought in several countries. We have also performed the same analysis at the subnational level for France, which is the largest wheat producer of the European Union, and home to a range of climatic zones. Large subnational variability of inter-annual wheat yield is mostly captured by the heat and water stress indicators, consistently with the country-level result.
JRC Directorate:Sustainable Resources

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