A new study by Cornell University Professor Ariel Ortiz-Bobea predicts that climate change-induced heat stress poses a greater threat to U.S. rain-fed agriculture than drought stress. Titled “Unpacking the Climatic Drivers of U.S. Agricultural Yields,” Ortiz-Bobea and contributors Professor Toby Ault, postdoctoral associate Carlos Carrillo, and Professor Haoying Wang developed a statistical crop yield model for six crops and employed more than three decades of crop yield records. Their analysis showed that soil moisture alone was the best predictor in yield variations over the last 40 years. When applying this model to climate change scenarios, the team projected that temperature, or heat stress, will be the primary climatic driver of crop yields in 2050 and 2100. In milder scenarios, yields decreased by 8% to 19%, while the most severe scenarios saw a yield reduction of 20% to 48%. These findings have major implications for crop management and plant breeding.
More information on the study can be found here: https://news.cornell.edu/stories/2019/05/heat-not-drought-will-drive-lower-crop-yields-researchers-say
“Unpacking the Climatic Drivers of U.S. Agricultural Yields” can be read here: https://iopscience.iop.org/article/10.1088/1748-9326/ab1e75/meta
This study was partially funded by the Atkinson Center through its Faculty Fellowship for the Social Sciences, Humanities and the Arts program. More information on the Atkinson Center can be found here: http://www.atkinson.cornell.edu/