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Past and Projected Climate Change Effects on China's Major Crops

Paper Reviewed
Yang, X., Chen, F., Lin, X., Liu, Z., Zhang, H., Zhao, J., Li, K., Ye, Q., Li, Y., Lv, S., Yang, P., Wu, W., Li, Z., Lal, R. and Tang, H. 2015. Potential benefits of climate change for crop productivity in China. Agricultural and Forest Meteorology 208: 76-84.

Noting that multiple cropping systems are particularly important to China in light of the fact that they need to feed 19% of the world's population with only 8% of the planet's arable land, Yang et al. (2015) investigated the known impacts of past climate changes on the northern limits and crop planting areas of multiple-cropping systems, as well as the projected impacts of predicted climate changes on some of the country's major crops. And what did they learn from these two endeavors?

The 15 researchers determined from historic data that "the northern limits of multiple cropping systems have been shifted northward," resulting in "a 2.2% (~8,000,000 tons) increase in the national production of three major crops (maize, wheat and rice) during the period from 1981 to 2010, positively impacting China's food security." And together with simulated crop yields that they derived from the Agricultural Production Systems Simulator for the years 2011-2100, based on the A1B emission scenario of the IPCC, Yang et al. were able to logically conclude that the projected area of cultivated land for triple-cropping systems may significantly expand during the 21st century, all of which led them to have further confidence that warming due to projected climate change "may cause a positive impact on the crop production in China if concomitant changes adapted to multiple cropping systems take place."

Posted 7 October 2015