, Volume 14, Issue 1, pp 7-16
Date: 13 Feb 2013

Impacts of observed growing-season warming trends since 1980 on crop yields in China

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Abstract

This study explores the effects of observed warming trends since 1980 on crop yields at both national and regional scales for the four main staple crops (rice, wheat, maize, and soybean) in China, using gridded climate and observed crop yield data, and identifies the areas in China where food production is susceptible to warming. National scale yield–temperature relationships show that there are clear negative yield responses of maize, wheat, and soybean to increased growing-season temperature. Regional scale yield–temperature relationships show that over 50 % of the arable land exhibited yield susceptibility to past warming trends, with maize showing the highest vulnerability and rice the lowest vulnerability. However, in most of the main food-producing areas, crops experienced increases or insignificant changes in yields due to better agronomic management. The Loess plain is revealed as the most vulnerable region to the past warming, as at least two food crops have exhibited the signs of warming susceptibility in the majority of the area. We also find considerable yield reductions in spring wheat in the central northeast, winter wheat in the Yellow River basin, and maize in Southwest China. These findings of hotspot areas are valuable in prioritizing future climate adaptation strategies for Chinese agriculture.