Examining the interaction of growing crops with local climate using a coupled crop-climate model
Osborne, T. M., Slingo, J. M., Lawrence, D. and Wheeler, T. R. (2009) Examining the interaction of growing crops with local climate using a coupled crop-climate model. Journal of Climate, 22 (6). pp. 1393-1411. ISSN 1520-0442
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To link to this article DOI: 10.1175/2008JCLI2494.1
This paper examines to what extent crops and their environment should be viewed as a coupled system. Crop impact assessments currently use climate model output offline to drive process-based crop models. However, in regions where local climate is sensitive to land surface conditions more consistent assessments may be produced with the crop model embedded within the land surface scheme of the climate model. Using a recently developed coupled crop–climate model, the sensitivity of local climate, in particular climate variability, to climatically forced variations in crop growth throughout the tropics is examined by comparing climates simulated with dynamic and prescribed seasonal growth of croplands. Interannual variations in land surface properties associated with variations in crop growth and development were found to have significant impacts on near-surface fluxes and climate; for example, growing season temperature variability was increased by up to 40% by the inclusion of dynamic crops. The impact was greatest in dry years where the response of crop growth to soil moisture deficits enhanced the associated warming via a reduction in evaporation. Parts of the Sahel, India, Brazil, and southern Africa were identified where local climate variability is sensitive to variations in crop growth, and where crop yield is sensitive to variations in surface temperature. Therefore, offline seasonal forecasting methodologies in these regions may underestimate crop yield variability. The inclusion of dynamic crops also altered the mean climate of the humid tropics, highlighting the importance of including dynamical vegetation within climate models.