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The effect of climate change on agro-climatic indicators in the UK

Arnell, N. W. ORCID: and Freeman, A. (2021) The effect of climate change on agro-climatic indicators in the UK. Climatic Change, 165. 40. ISSN 0165-0009

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To link to this item DOI: 10.1007/s10584-021-03054-8


The effect of climate change on agriculture in the UK is here assessed using a comprehensive series of policy-relevant agro-climate indicators characterising changes to climate resources and hazards affecting productivity and operations. This paper presents projections of these indicators across the UK with gridded observed data and UKCP18 climate projections representing a range of greenhouse gas emissions scenarios. The projections can be used to inform climate change mitigation and adaptation policy. There will be substantial changes in the climate resource and hazard across the UK during the twenty-first century if emissions continue to follow a high trajectory, and there will still be some changes if emissions reduce to achieve international climate policy targets. Growing seasons for certain crops will lengthen, crop growth will be accelerated, and both drought and heat risks (for some types of production) will increase. Soils will become drier in autumn, although there will be less change in winter and spring. The longer growing seasons and warmer temperatures provide opportunities for new crops, subject to the effects of increasing challenges to production. Most of the changes are relatively consistent across the UK, although drought risk and heat stress risk increase most rapidly in the south and east. The climate change trend is superimposed onto considerable year to year variability. Although there is strong consensus across climate projections on the direction of change, there is considerable uncertainty in the rate and magnitude of change for a given emissions scenario. For the temperature-based indicators, this reflects uncertainty in climate sensitivity, whilst for the precipitation-based indicators largely reflects uncertainty in projected changes in the weather systems affecting the UK.

Item Type:Article
Divisions:Interdisciplinary Research Centres (IDRCs) > Walker Institute
Science > School of Mathematical, Physical and Computational Sciences > Department of Meteorology
ID Code:97178


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