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Volume 9, issue 1 | Copyright

Special issue: The Earth system at a global warming of 1.5°C and 2.0°C

Earth Syst. Dynam., 9, 119-134, 2018
https://doi.org/10.5194/esd-9-119-2018
© Author(s) 2018. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Research article 20 Feb 2018

Research article | 20 Feb 2018

Projected changes in crop yield mean and variability over West Africa in a world 1.5 K warmer than the pre-industrial era

Ben Parkes1, Dimitri Defrance2, Benjamin Sultan2, Philippe Ciais3, and Xuhui Wang3 Ben Parkes et al.
  • 1Sorbonne Universités, UPMC, Univ. Paris 06 – CNRS-IRD-MNHN LOCEAN/IPSL, 4 Place Jussieu, 75005 Paris, France
  • 2ESPACE-DEV, Univ. Montpellier, IRD, Univ. Guyane, Univ. Réunion, Univ. Antilles, Univ. Avignon, Avignon, France
  • 3IPSL – LSCE, CEA CNRS UVSQ UPSaclay, Centre d'Etudes Orme des Merisiers, 91191 Gif sur Yvette, France

Abstract. The ability of a region to feed itself in the upcoming decades is an important issue. The West African population is expected to increase significantly in the next 30 years. The responses of crops to short-term climate change is critical to the population and the decision makers tasked with food security. This leads to three questions: how will crop yields change in the near future? What influence will climate change have on crop failures? Which adaptation methods should be employed to ameliorate undesirable changes?

An ensemble of near-term climate projections are used to simulate maize, millet and sorghum in West Africa in the recent historic period (1986–2005) and a near-term future when global temperatures are 1.5K above pre-industrial levels to assess the change in yield, yield variability and crop failure rate. Four crop models were used to simulate maize, millet and sorghum in West Africa in the historic and future climates.

Across the majority of West Africa the maize, millet and sorghum yields are shown to fall. In the regions where yields increase, the variability also increases. This increase in variability increases the likelihood of crop failures, which are defined as yield negative anomalies beyond 1 standard deviation during the historic period. The increasing variability increases the frequency of crop failures across West Africa. The return time of crop failures falls from 8.8, 9.7 and 10.1 years to 5.2, 6.3 and 5.8 years for maize, millet and sorghum respectively.

The adoption of heat-resistant cultivars and the use of captured rainwater have been investigated using one crop model as an idealized sensitivity test. The generalized doption of a cultivar resistant to high-temperature stress during flowering is shown to be more beneficial than using rainwater harvesting.

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We present an analysis of three crops in West Africa and their response to short-term climate change in a world where temperatures are 1.5 °C above the preindustrial levels. We show that the number of crop failures for all crops is due to increase in the future climate. We further show the difference in yield change across several West African countries and show that the yields are not expected to increase fast enough to prevent food shortages.
We present an analysis of three crops in West Africa and their response to short-term climate...
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