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Similar estimates of temperature impacts on global wheat yield by three independent methods

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The potential impact of global temperature change on global crop yield has recently been assessed with different methods. Here we show that grid-based and point-based simulations and statistical regressions (from historic records), without deliberate adaptation or CO2 fertilization effects, produce similar estimates of temperature impact on wheat yields at global and national scales. With a 1 °C global temperature increase, global wheat yield is projected to decline between 4.1% and 6.4%. Projected relative temperature impacts from different methods were similar for major wheat-producing countries China, India, USA and France, but less so for Russia. Point-based and grid-based simulations, and to some extent the statistical regressions, were consistent in projecting that warmer regions are likely to suffer more yield loss with increasing temperature than cooler regions. By forming a multi-method ensemble, it was possible to quantify ‘method uncertainty’ in addition to model uncertainty. This significantly improves confidence in estimates of climate impacts on global food security.

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Figure 1: Impacts of 1 °C global temperature increase on global wheat yield estimated by different assessment methods.
Figure 2: Comparison of wheat yield changes with 1 °C global temperature increase for 97 wheat-producing countries estimated using three different methods.
Figure 3: Estimated impacts of 1 °C global temperature increase on wheat yield.
Figure 4: Comparison of simulated multi-model median wheat yield and yield changes.

Change history

  • 20 October 2016

    In the version of this Article originally published, multiple errors were made in the author affiliations. References 49 and 51 were mislabelled. A source of funding was also omitted. These errors and omissions have been corrected in all versions.


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This work was supported by the National High-Tech Research and Development Program of China (2013AA100404), the National Natural Science Foundation of China (31271616, 31611130182, 41571088 and 31561143003), the National Research Foundation for the Doctoral Program of Higher Education of China (20120097110042), the Priority Academic Program Development of Jiangsu Higher Education Institutions (PAPD), and the China Scholarship Council. We would like to acknowledge support provided by IFPRI through the Global Futures and Strategic Foresight project, the CGIAR Research Program on Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security (CCAFS), the CGIAR Research Program on Wheat and the Agricultural Model Intercomparison and Improvement Project (AgMIP).

Author information




B.L., S.A., C.M., F.E., J.E., D.B.L., P.M., A.C.R., D.W., J.W.J., C.R. and Y.Z. motivated the study, S.A. coordinated the study, B.L., S.A., C.M., F.E., J.E., D.B.L., P.M., A.C.R. and D.W. analysed data, P.K.A., P.D.A., J.A., B.B., C.B., D.C., A.C., D.D., G.D.S., J.D., E.F., C.F., M.G.-V., S.G., G.H., L.A.H., R.C.I., M.J., C.D.J., K.C.K., A.-K.K., C.M., S.N.K., C.N., G.O’L., J.E.O., T.P., E.P., T.A.M.P., E.E.R., R.P.R., E.Schmid, M.A.S., I.Shcherbak, E.Stehfest, C.O.S., P.S., T.S., I.Supit, F.T., P.T., K.W., E.W., J.W., Z.Z. and Y.Z. carried out crop model simulations and discussed the results, C.M., J.E., B.A.K., M.J.O., G.W.W., J.W.W., M.R., P.D.A., P.V.V.P. and A.C.R. provided experimental data, B.L., S.A., C.M., F.E., J.E., D.B.L., P.M., A.C.R., D.W., J.W.J., C.R. and Y.Z. wrote the paper. All other authors gave comments on the earlier version of this manuscript.

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Correspondence to Yan Zhu.

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Liu, B., Asseng, S., Müller, C. et al. Similar estimates of temperature impacts on global wheat yield by three independent methods. Nature Clim Change 6, 1130–1136 (2016).

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