MACSUR science pick of the month: Climate change impacts on European crop yields: Do we need to consider nitrogen limitation?
Webber H., Zhao G., Wolf J., Britz W., Vries W.D., Gaiser T., Hoffmann H., Ewert F. 2015. Climate change impacts on European crop yields: Do we need to consider nitrogen limitation? European Journal of Agronomy 71, 123-134. doi: 10.1016/j.eja.2015.09.002
Recent economic studies have demonstrated that estimates of future global food production and security are very sensitive to how crop yields will respond to climate change. However, we know from results of global crop model comparisons that models that consider nitrogen limitation generally predict more negative climate changes impacts than those that do not consider nitrogen limitation. The cause of the different response was unknown as the models with and without nitrogen limitation typically differ in a number of ways. Our study investigated this phenomenon by simulating both (1) water limited and (2) nitrogen–water limited yields across the EU-27 to 2050 for six key crops with the SIMPLACE<LINTUL5, DRUNIR, HEAT> model. We also looked at how crop nitrogen use may change under future climate change scenarios. Our results suggest that inclusion of nitrogen limitation hardly changed crop yield response to climate for the spring-sown crops considered (grain maize, potato, and sugar beet). Further, regardless of whether or not nitrogen limitation was considered, their potential nitrogen use is likely to decrease due to climate change, largely in parallel with their yields. However, for winter-sown crops (winter barley, winter rapeseed and winter wheat), simulated impacts to 2050 were more negative when nitrogen limitation was considered, especially with high levels of water stress in Southern Europe. This was related to increase vegetative growth in the warmer and longer autumns, that resulted in the crops using more of their available nitrogen before grain set happened. As a result, these winter sown crops experienced increased nitrogen stress during grain set and reduced yields. These results imply that climate change impact studies for winter-sown crops should consider N-fertilization. However, the specification of future N fertilization rates is a methodological challenge that is likely to need integrated assessment models to address.
[Edited by H. Webber]
The Knowledge Hub FACCE MACSUR brings together the excellence of research in modelling grasslands, livestock, crops, farms, and agricultural trade in order to improve the modelling of climate change impacts on European agriculture and in order to illustrate to political decision makers how climate will affect regional farming systems and food production in Europe. To achieve this goal, MACSUR engages in a range of activities, including methodological comparisons of models and use of their outputs (scaling, uncertainty), linking of complementary models from different sectors, involvement of stakeholders, training of young scientists, and establishing a community of practice across a broad range of scientific disciplines. The five-year project started in June 2012.
FACCE MACSUR is organized as a Knowledge Hub, a new financial and organizational instrument. The novelty of MACSUR lies in the in-kind contributions of 2 million euros which, in addition to the 6 million euros of new money, contribute to facilitating the convergence of already funded and ongoing research, as well as funding new research [financial figures refer to the period 1 June 2012 - 31 May 2015 and were established on preliminary accounting data]. The project includes currently 70 institutions from 18 countries. Activities are funded by national agencies, with the amount of funds and the regulation of their use governed at the national level.
|Collaboration across countries and disciplines||Advancing modelling for risk assessment of climate change impacts||Outlook and remaining challenges||Interaction with stakeholders: bridging the gap|
|Video summary of the Bilbao Colloquium|
- Creating a forum for knowledge exchange across science disciplines.
- Adoption of good-practice examples from other scientific communities.
- Structured description of models and comparisons of model performance.
- Selection of regional case studies as showcases of integrated and inter-disciplinary modelling work.
- Training of young scientists.
- Development of European Representative Agricultural Pathways as input to global scenario exercises.
- Development of a data classification and rating tool for exploration of existing data sets.
- Advancement of knowledge in modelling of crop production, grassland production, price development.
- Collaboration on new funded projects.
- About a dozen manuscripts on methodological aspects of modelling food security published or submitted for publication in peer-reviewed journals.
- Overview papers in high-profile journals.
- Major international scientific conferences and workshops.
Regional case studies
The purpose of regional case studies is a simultaneous and interlinked development of a common conceptual framework and actual models and model links to assist policy makers and actors in the agri-food chain in identifying effective and efficient adaptation and mitigation measures and potential consequence scenarios, e.g. impact on food yield, quality, nutritive value, disease load etc. in perceived hotspots of climate impacts. The studies are geared to ansower the question "what would be the different contributions of different European adaptation strategies to global food security until 2050 at different scales (farm to EU) while keeping the GHG targets?"
Three case studies in Northern Savo (Finland), Mostviertel (Austria), and Oristano (Sardinia, Italy) have been selected as showcase pilot studies to represent the farming systems in northern, central and southern Europe. The case studies expand existing case studies. For compatibility with international research networks AgMIP and ISIMIP the Regional Pilot Studies will apply the new Shared Socioeconomic Pathways (especially SSP2 "continuation" but also SSP3 "fragmentation") in conjunction with the Representative CO2 Concentration Pathway of 8.5 W/m2 (most similar to the SRES A2 emission scenario of the IPCC reports).
FACCE MACSUR integrated Regional Pilot Studies, Workshop results