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      Implications of climate change for agricultural productivity in the early twenty-first century

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          Abstract

          This paper reviews recent literature concerning a wide range of processes through which climate change could potentially impact global-scale agricultural productivity, and presents projections of changes in relevant meteorological, hydrological and plant physiological quantities from a climate model ensemble to illustrate key areas of uncertainty. Few global-scale assessments have been carried out, and these are limited in their ability to capture the uncertainty in climate projections, and omit potentially important aspects such as extreme events and changes in pests and diseases. There is a lack of clarity on how climate change impacts on drought are best quantified from an agricultural perspective, with different metrics giving very different impressions of future risk. The dependence of some regional agriculture on remote rainfall, snowmelt and glaciers adds to the complexity. Indirect impacts via sea-level rise, storms and diseases have not been quantified. Perhaps most seriously, there is high uncertainty in the extent to which the direct effects of CO 2 rise on plant physiology will interact with climate change in affecting productivity. At present, the aggregate impacts of climate change on global-scale agricultural productivity cannot be reliably quantified.

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          Most cited references12

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          Rising atmospheric carbon dioxide: plants FACE the future.

          Atmospheric CO(2) concentration ([CO(2)]) is now higher than it was at any time in the past 26 million years and is expected to nearly double during this century. Terrestrial plants with the C(3) photosynthetic pathway respond in the short term to increased [CO(2)] via increased net photosynthesis and decreased transpiration. In the longer term this increase is often offset by downregulation of photosynthetic capacity. But much of what is currently known about plant responses to elevated [CO(2)] comes from enclosure studies, where the responses of plants may be modified by size constraints and the limited life-cycle stages that are examined. Free-Air CO(2) Enrichment (FACE) was developed as a means to grow plants in the field at controlled elevation of CO(2) under fully open-air field conditions. The findings of FACE experiments are quantitatively summarized via meta-analytic statistics and compared to findings from chamber studies. Although trends agree with parallel summaries of enclosure studies, important quantitative differences emerge that have important implications both for predicting the future terrestrial biosphere and understanding how crops may need to be adapted to the changed and changing atmosphere.
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            Kinematic constraints on glacier contributions to 21st-century sea-level rise.

            On the basis of climate modeling and analogies with past conditions, the potential for multimeter increases in sea level by the end of the 21st century has been proposed. We consider glaciological conditions required for large sea-level rise to occur by 2100 and conclude that increases in excess of 2 meters are physically untenable. We find that a total sea-level rise of about 2 meters by 2100 could occur under physically possible glaciological conditions but only if all variables are quickly accelerated to extremely high limits. More plausible but still accelerated conditions lead to total sea-level rise by 2100 of about 0.8 meter. These roughly constrained scenarios provide a "most likely" starting point for refinements in sea-level forecasts that include ice flow dynamics.
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              Crop responses to climatic variation.

              The yield and quality of food crops is central to the well being of humans and is directly affected by climate and weather. Initial studies of climate change on crops focussed on effects of increased carbon dioxide (CO2) level and/or global mean temperature and/or rainfall and nutrition on crop production. However, crops can respond nonlinearly to changes in their growing conditions, exhibit threshold responses and are subject to combinations of stress factors that affect their growth, development and yield. Thus, climate variability and changes in the frequency of extreme events are important for yield, its stability and quality. In this context, threshold temperatures for crop processes are found not to differ greatly for different crops and are important to define for the major food crops, to assist climate modellers predict the occurrence of crop critical temperatures and their temporal resolution. This paper demonstrates the impacts of climate variability for crop production in a number of crops. Increasing temperature and precipitation variability increases the risks to yield, as shown via computer simulation and experimental studies. The issue of food quality has not been given sufficient importance when assessing the impact of climate change for food and this is addressed. Using simulation models of wheat, the concentration of grain protein is shown to respond to changes in the mean and variability of temperature and precipitation events. The paper concludes with discussion of adaptation possibilities for crops in response to drought and argues that characters that enable better exploration of the soil and slower leaf canopy expansion could lead to crop higher transpiration efficiency.
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                Author and article information

                Journal
                Philos Trans R Soc Lond B Biol Sci
                RSTB
                royptb
                Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences
                The Royal Society
                0962-8436
                1471-2970
                27 September 2010
                27 September 2010
                : 365
                : 1554 , Theme issue 'Food security: feeding the world in 2050' compiled and edited by H. Charles J. Godfray, John R. Beddington, Ian R. Crute, Lawrence Haddad, David Lawrence, James F. Muir, Jules Pretty, Sherman Robinson and Camilla Toulmin
                : 2973-2989
                Affiliations
                Met Office Hadley Centre, FitzRoy Road Exeter, Devon EX1 3PB, UK
                Author notes
                [* ]Author for correspondence ( andy.wiltshire@ 123456metoffice.gov.uk ).

                While the Government Office for Science commissioned this review, the views are those of the author(s), are independent of Government, and do not constitute Government policy.

                Article
                rstb20100158
                10.1098/rstb.2010.0158
                2935125
                20713397
                50e60747-3371-48a8-8fea-d27ff4d50de6
                © 2010 The Royal Society

                This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

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                Philosophy of science
                agriculture,food securtity,climate,climate impacts
                Philosophy of science
                agriculture, food securtity, climate, climate impacts

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