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Regional Disparities in the Beneficial Effects of Rising CO2 Emissions on Crop Water ProductivityRising atmospheric carbon dioxide concentrations are expected to enhance photosynthesis and reduce crop water use. However, there is high uncertainty about the global implications of these effects for future crop production and agricultural water requirements under climate change. Here we combine results from networks of field experiments and global crop models to present a spatially explicit global perspective on crop water productivity (CWP, the ratio of crop yield to evapotranspiration) for wheat, maize, rice and soybean under elevated carbon dioxide and associated climate change projected for a high-end greenhouse gas emissions scenario. We find carbon dioxide effects increase global CWP by 10[0;47]%-27[7;37]% (median[interquartile range] across the model ensemble) by the 2080s depending on crop types, with particularly large increases in arid regions (by up to 48[25;56]% for rain fed wheat). If realized in the fields, the effects of elevated carbon dioxide could considerably mitigate global yield losses whilst reducing agricultural consumptive water use (4-17%). We identify regional disparities driven by differences in growing conditions across agro-ecosystems that could have implications for increasing food production without compromising water security. Finally, our results demonstrate the need to expand field experiments and encourage greater consistency in modeling the effects of rising carbon dioxide across crop and hydrological modeling communities.
Document ID
Document Type
Reprint (Version printed in journal)
External Source(s)
Deryng, Delphine (Chicago Univ. Chicago, IL, United States)
Elliott, Joshua (Chicago Univ. Chicago, IL, United States)
Folberth, Christian (Swiss Federal Inst. of Aquatic Science and Technology Dubendorf, Switzerland)
Meuller, Christoph (Potsdam-Inst. fuer Klimafolgenforschung Potsdam, Germany)
Pugh, Thomas A. M. (Karlsruhe Inst. of Technology Germany)
Boote, Kenneth J. (Florida Univ. Gainesville, FL, United States)
Conway, Declan (London Univ. United Kingdom)
Ruane, Alex C. (NASA Goddard Space Flight Center Greenbelt, MD, United States)
Gerten, Dieter (Potsdam-Inst. fuer Klimafolgenforschung Potsdam, Germany)
Jones, James W. (Florida Univ. Gainesville, FL, United States)
Khabarov, Nikolay (International Inst. for Applied Systems Analysis Laxenburg, Austria)
Olin, Stefan (Lund Univ. Sweden)
Schaphoff, Sibyll (Potsdam-Inst. fuer Klimafolgenforschung Potsdam, Germany)
Schmid, Erwin (University for Natural Resources and Applied Life Sciences Vienna, Austria)
Yang, Hong (Swiss Federal Inst. of Aquatic Science and Technology Dubendorf, Switzerland)
Rosenzweig, Cynthia (NASA Goddard Inst. for Space Studies New York, NY, United States)
Date Acquired
May 3, 2016
Publication Date
April 18, 2016
Publication Information
Publication: Nature Climate Change
ISSN: 1758-678X
Subject Category
Meteorology and Climatology
Earth Resources and Remote Sensing
Report/Patent Number
Distribution Limits

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IDRelationTitle20160005774See AlsoRegional Disparities in the Beneficial Effects of Rising CO2 Emissions on Crop Water Productivity