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On the (ir)relevance of heatwaves in climate change impacts on European agriculture


The Ricardian model is a widely used approach based on cross-sectional regression analysis to estimate climate change impacts on agricultural productivity. Up until now, researchers have focused on the impacts of gradual changes in temperature and precipitation, even though climate change is known to encompass also changes in the severity and frequency of extreme weather events. This research investigates the impact of heatwaves on European agriculture, additional to the impact of average climate change. Using a dataset of more than 60,000 European farms, the study examines whether adding a measure for heatwaves to the Ricardian model influences its results. We find that heatwaves have a minor impact on agricultural productivity and that this impact is moderated by average temperature. In colder regions, farm productivity increases with the number of heatwave days. For warmer regions, land values decrease with heatwave frequency. Despite the moderating effect, the marginal effect of heatwave frequency, i.e. the percentage change in agricultural land values caused by one more heatwave day per year, is small in comparison to the effect of average temperature increases. Non-marginal effects are found to be relevant, but only in the case of increased heatwave frequency. According to our results, farms are not expected to suffer more from extreme weather than from mean climate change, as was claimed by several previous studies.

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The authors would like to express their gratitute to the European Commission’s DG Agriculture and Rural Development for access to the Farm Accountancy Data Network (FADN).


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This work was supported by the University of Antwerp’s University Research Fund in the form of a doctoral project (ID 42475).

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Correspondence to Charlotte Fabri.

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Fabri, C., Moretti, M. & Van Passel, S. On the (ir)relevance of heatwaves in climate change impacts on European agriculture. Climatic Change 174, 16 (2022).

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  • Ricardian analysis
  • Climate change
  • European agriculture
  • Heatwaves
  • Extreme weather events