A crop model ensemble analysis of temperature and precipitation effects on wheat yield across a European transect using impact response surfaces

Nina Pirttioja, Timothy R. Carter,   et 47 al., Reimund P. Rötter


Impact response surfaces (IRSs) of spring and winter wheat yields were constructed from a 26-member ensemble of process-based crop simulation models for sites in Finland, Germany and Spain across a latitudinal transect in Europe. The sensitivity of modelled yield to systematic increments of changes in temperature (-2 to +9°C) and precipitation (-50 to +50%) was tested by modifying values of 1981–2010 baseline weather.

In spite of large differences in simulated yield responses to both baseline and changed climate between models, sites, crops and years, several common messages emerged. Ensemble average yields decline with higher temperatures (3–7% per 1°C) and decreased precipitation  (3–9% per 10% decrease), but benefit from increased precipitation (0-8% per 10% increase). Yields are more sensitive to temperature than precipitation changes at the Finnish site while sensitivities are mixed at the German and Spanish sites. Precipitation effects diminish under higher temperature changes. Inter-model variability is highest for baseline climate at the Spanish site, but relatively insensitive to changed climate. Modelled responses diverge most at the Finnish and German sites for winter wheat under temperature change. The IRS pattern of yield reliability tracks average yield levels. Inter-annual yield variability is more sensitive to precipitation than temperature, except at the Spanish site for spring wheat.

Optimal temperatures for present-day cultivars are close to the baseline under Finnish conditions but below the baseline at the German and Spanish sites. This suggests that adoption of later maturing cultivars with higher temperature requirements might already be advantageous, and increasingly so under future warming.


climate change, crop model, impact response surface (IRS), sensitivity analysis, wheat, yield

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