Rice is the staple food for more than 50% of the world's population1–3. Reliable prediction of changes in rice yield is thus central for maintaining global food security. This is an extraordinary challenge. Here, we compare the sensitivity of rice yield to temperature increase derived from field warming experiments and three modelling approaches: statistical models, local crop models and global gridded crop models. Field warming experiments produce a substantial rice yield loss under warming, with an average temperature sensitivity of −5.2 ± 1.4% K−1. Local crop models give a similar sensitivity (−6.3 ± 0.4% K−1), but statistical and global gridded crop models both suggest less negative impacts of warming on yields (−0.8 ± 0.3% and −2.4 ± 3.7% K−1, respectively). Using data from field warming experiments, we further propose a conditional probability approach to constrain the large range of global gridded crop model results for the future yield changes in response to warming by the end of the century (from −1.3% to −9.3% K−1). The constraint implies a more negative response to warming (−8.3 ± 1.4% K−1) and reduces the spread of the model ensemble by 33%. This yield reduction exceeds that estimated by the International Food Policy Research Institute assessment (−4.2 to −6.4% K−1) (ref. 4). Our study suggests that without CO2 fertilization, effective adaptation and genetic improvement, severe rice yield losses are plausible under intensive climate warming scenarios.
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We thank the Intersectoral Impact Model Intercomparison Project (ISI-MIP) and the Agricultural Model Intercomparison and Improvement Project (AgMIP) for providing crop model simulation results. We also thank S. Asseng for helpful comments. This study was supported by the National Natural Science Foundation of China (41530528 and 41561134016), the 111 project (B14001) and the National Youth Top-notch Talent Support Program in China. The research of P.C., I.A.J. and J.P. was supported by the European Research Council Synergy grant ERC-2013-SYG-610028, IMBALANCE-P. C.M. acknowledges financial support from the MACMIT project (01LN1317A) funded through the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF).
The authors declare no competing financial interests.
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Zhao, C., Piao, S., Wang, X. et al. Plausible rice yield losses under future climate warming. Nature Plants 3, 16202 (2017). https://doi.org/10.1038/nplants.2016.202
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