Adverse weather conditions for European wheat production will become more frequent with climate change.

Miroslav Trnka, Reimund P. Rötter, Margarita Ruiz-Ramos, Kurt Christian Kersebaum, Jørgen E. Olesen, Zdeněk Žalud & Mikhail A. Semenov

Nature Climate Change 4, 637–643 (2014) doi:10.1038/nclimate2242
Received 08 November 2013 Accepted 08 April 2014 Published online 25 May 2014

Abstract

Europe is the largest producer of wheat, the second most widely grown cereal crop after rice. The increased occurrence and magnitude of adverse and extreme agroclimatic events are considered a major threat for wheat production. We present an analysis that accounts for a range of adverse weather events that might significantly affect wheat yield in Europe. For this purpose we analysed changes in the frequency of the occurrence of 11 adverse weather events. Using climate scenarios based on the most recent ensemble of climate models and greenhouse gases emission estimates, we assessed the probability of single and multiple adverse events occurring within one season. We showed that the occurrence of adverse conditions for 14 sites representing the main European wheat-growing areas might substantially increase by 2060 compared to the present (1981–2010). This is likely to result in more frequent crop failure across Europe. This study provides essential information for developing adaptation strategies.

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