Projected changes in crop yield mean and variability over West Africa in a world 1.5K warmer than the pre-industrial era

Ben Parkes, Dimitri Defrance, Benjamin Sultan, Philippe Ciais, Xuhui Wang

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    Abstract

    The ability of a region to feed itself in the upcoming decades is an important issue. The West African population is expected to increase significantly in the next 30 years. The responses of crops to short-term climate change is critical to the population and the decision makers tasked with food security. This leads to three questions: how will crop yields change in the near future? What influence will climate change have on crop failures? Which adaptation methods should be employed to ameliorate undesirable changes? An ensemble of near-term climate projections are used to simulate maize, millet and sorghum in West Africa in the recent historic period (1986-2005) and a near-term future when global temperatures are 1.5K above pre-industrial levels to assess the change in yield, yield variability and crop failure rate. Four crop models were used to simulate maize, millet and sorghum in West Africa in the historic and future climates. Across the majority of West Africa the maize, millet and sorghum yields are shown to fall. In the regions where yields increase, the variability also increases. This increase in variability increases the likelihood of crop failures, which are defined as yield negative anomalies beyond 1 standard deviation during the historic period. The increasing variability increases the frequency of crop failures across West Africa. The return time of crop failures falls from 8.8, 9.7 and 10.1 years to 5.2, 6.3 and 5.8 years for maize, millet and sorghum respectively. The adoption of heat-resistant cultivars and the use of captured rainwater have been investigated using one crop model as an idealized sensitivity test. The generalized doption of a cultivar resistant to high-temperature stress during flowering is shown to be more beneficial than using rainwater harvesting.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)119-134
    Number of pages16
    JournalEarth System Dynamics
    Volume9
    Issue number1
    DOIs
    Publication statusPublished - 20 Feb 2018

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