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Adverse weather conditions for UK wheat production under climate change

Lookup NU author(s): Dr Francisco Areal

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This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (CC BY 4.0).


Abstract

Winter wheat is an important crop in the UK, suited to the typical weather conditions in the current climate. In a changing climate the increased frequency and severity of adverse weather events, which are often localised, are considered a major threat to wheat production. In the present study we assessed a range of adverse weather conditions, which can significantly affect yield, under current and future climates based on adverse weather indices. We analysed changes in the frequency, magnitude and spatial patterns of 10 adverse weather indices, at 25 sites across the UK, using climate scenarios from the CMIP5 ensemble of global climate models (GCMs) and two greenhouse gas emissions (RCP4.5 and RCP8.5). The future UK climate is expected to remain favourable for wheat production, with most adverse weather indicators reducing in magnitude by the mid-21st century. Hotter and drier summers would improve sowing and harvesting conditions and reduce the risk of lodging. The probability of late frosts and heat stress during reproductive and grain filling periods would likely remain small in 2050. Wetter winter and spring could cause issues with waterlogging. The severity of drought stress during reproduction would generally be lower in 2050, however localised differences suggest it is important to examine drought at a small spatial scale. Prolonged water stress does not increase considerably in the UK, as may be expected in other parts of Europe. Climate projections based on the CMIP5 ensemble reveal considerable uncertainty in the magnitude of adverse weather conditions including waterlogging, drought and water stress. The variation in adverse weather conditions due to GCMs was generally greater than between emissions scenarios. Accordingly, CMIP5 ensembles should be used in the assessment of adverse weather conditions for crop production to indicate the full range of possible impacts, which a limited number of GCMs may not provide.


Publication metadata

Author(s): Harkness C, Semenov MA, Areal F, Senapati N, Trnka M, Balek J, Bishop J

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Agricultural and Forest Meteorology

Year: 2020

Volume: 282-283

Print publication date: 15/03/2020

Online publication date: 19/12/2019

Acceptance date: 27/11/2019

Date deposited: 13/12/2019

ISSN (print): 0168-1923

ISSN (electronic): 1873-2240

Publisher: Elsevier BV

URL: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.agrformet.2019.107862

DOI: 10.1016/j.agrformet.2019.107862


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