A global and spatially explicit assessment of climate change impacts on crop production and consumptive water use
Zehnder, Alexander J. B.
Date of Issue2013
School of Biological Sciences
Food security and water scarcity have become two major concerns for future human's sustainable development, particularly in the context of climate change. Here we present a comprehensive assessment of climate change impacts on the production and water use of major cereal crops on a global scale with a spatial resolution of 30 arc-minutes for the 2030s (short term) and the 2090s (long term), respectively. Our findings show that impact uncertainties are higher on larger spatial scales (e.g., global and continental) but lower on smaller spatial scales (e.g., national and grid cell). Such patterns allow decision makers and investors to take adaptive measures without being puzzled by a highly uncertain future at the global level. Short-term gains in crop production from climate change are projected for many regions, particularly in African countries, but the gains will mostly vanish and turn to losses in the long run. Irrigation dependence in crop production is projected to increase in general. However, several water poor regions will rely less heavily on irrigation, conducive to alleviating regional water scarcity. The heterogeneity of spatial patterns and the non-linearity of temporal changes of the impacts call for site-specific adaptive measures with perspectives of reducing short- and long-term risks of future food and water security.
© 2013 Liu et al. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.