Biogeosciences Research Spotlight

Climate Change May Reduce Future Corn Supply

A suite of simulations run with a spectrum of starting conditions shows that climate change will reduce corn crop yield, although the degree of reductions varies widely.

Source: Journal of Advances in Modeling Earth Systems (JAMES)


Scientists can predict how climate change will affect crop yields using computer models calibrated according to past crop and harvest data. However, at the regional and global scales, a lack of consistent, coordinated data makes these calibrations difficult. In a new paper, Xiong et al. explore how calibration affects uncertainty in large-scale crop simulation.

The researchers used the Environmental Policy Integrated Climate model and global data sets on climate, soil, terrain, and crop management to simulate global corn crop yields between 1951 and 2099. They tested the influence of four different parameters—phenology, harvest index, optimum temperature, and sowing density—by running the model several times with different values for each parameter.

No matter the calibration strategy, all simulations predicted that climate change will reduce future crop yield. The team found that phenology—which is characterized by seasonal events like flowering and ripening—contributed the most uncertainty to crop yield predictions, whereas harvest index had little effect. Calibration caused about 26% of the uncertainty in crop yield predictions by 2100.

The authors caution that global crop simulation is not reliable at the local scale since small calibration tweaks can result in widely varied local predictions. However, noting which locations are affected the most by calibration changes can pinpoint them for more detailed investigation to drive decision making about the world’s future food supply. (Journal of Advances in Modeling Earth Systems (JAMES), doi:10.1002/2016MS000625, 2016)

—Sarah Stanley, Freelance Writer

Citation: Stanley, S. (2016), Climate change may reduce future corn supply, Eos, 97, doi:10.1029/2016EO059497. Published on 15 September 2016.
© 2016. The authors. CC BY-NC-ND 3.0
  • Bart_R

    Every 1% increase in CO2 leads to up to 1% loss in plant nutrient density in key minerals and amino acids.

    Corn isn’t really a great source of proteins or minerals, so is less affected.

    We’re already facing a hidden nutrient supply reduction.

  • mememine

    “MAY” reduce corn harvest?
    Well dah, unstoppable warming kinda tends to do that!
    You liberal neck tattooed scholars are witch burners in your children’s history books for this madness.

    It’s been 35 years of global debate so why doesn’t climate change science say their own CO2 crisis is as real as they say the planet isn’t flat?
    Are they also only 99% sure smoking causes cancer?

    Will they say it before it’s too late to say it’s an END OF DAYS climate crisis?

    *Exaggerating and abusing vague climate change science wasn’t progressive or civilized.

  • It’s well-understood that climate change will cause famine. It’s one of the main reasons we have to halt and reverse it ASAP.

    • mememine

      It’s been 35 years of science NEVER saying a CO2 HELL was as real as the planet isn’t flat or smoking causes cancer.
      It’s a “could be” crisis meaning it’s a non crisis.
      35 more years will prove it.

      • CB

        Paul, is there a human at the controls?

        If you cannot respond with a coherent comment, why should anyone believe you aren’t a spambot?

        “The heat-trapping nature of carbon dioxide and other gases was demonstrated in the mid-19th century”

        (NASA, “Climate change: How do we know?”)