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Evidence for a climate signal in trends of global crop yield variability over the past 50 years

Osborne, T. M. and Wheeler, T. R. (2013) Evidence for a climate signal in trends of global crop yield variability over the past 50 years. Environmental Research Letters, 8 (2). 024001. ISSN 1748-9326

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To link to this item DOI: 10.1088/1748-9326/8/2/024001


Low variability of crop production from year to year is desirable for many reasons, including reduced income risk and stability of supplies. Therefore, it is important to understand the nature of yield variability, whether it is changing through time, and how it varies between crops and regions. Previous studies have shown that national crop yield variability has changed in the past, with the direction and magnitude dependent on crop type and location. Whilst such studies acknowledge the importance of climate variability in determining yield variability, it has been assumed that its magnitude and its effect on crop production have not changed through time and, hence, that changes to yield variability have been due to non-climatic factors. We address this assumption by jointly examining yield and climate variability for three major crops (rice, wheat and maize) over the past 50 years. National yield time series and growing season temperature and precipitation were de-trended and related using multiple linear regression. Yield variability changed significantly in half of the crop–country combinations examined. For several crop–country combinations, changes in yield variability were related to changes in climate variability.

Item Type:Article
Divisions:Interdisciplinary Research Centres (IDRCs) > Walker Institute
Interdisciplinary centres and themes > Centre for Food Security
Science > School of Mathematical, Physical and Computational Sciences > NCAS
Science > School of Mathematical, Physical and Computational Sciences > Department of Meteorology
Life Sciences > School of Agriculture, Policy and Development > Department of Crop Science
ID Code:32096
Publisher:Institute of Physics
Publisher Statement:Content from this work may be used under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 licence. Any further distribution of this work must maintain attribution to the author(s) and the title of the work, journal citation and DOI.


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