Northward shift of the agricultural climate zone under 21st-century global climate change

King, Myron and Altdorff, Daniel and Liu, Pengfei and Galagedara, Lakshman and Holden, Joseph and Unc, Adrian (2018) Northward shift of the agricultural climate zone under 21st-century global climate change. Scientific Reports, 8. ISSN 2045-2322

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As agricultural regions are threatened by climate change, warming of high latitude regions and increasing food demands may lead to northward expansion of global agriculture. While socio-economic demands and edaphic conditions may govern the expansion, climate is a key limiting factor. Extant literature on future crop projections considers established agricultural regions and is mainly temperature based. We employed growing degree days (GDD), as the physiological link between temperature and crop growth, to assess the global northward shift of agricultural climate zones under 21st-century climate change. Using ClimGen scenarios for seven global climate models (GCMs), based on greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and transient GHGs, we delineated the future extent of GDD areas, feasible for small cereals, and assessed the projected changes in rainfall and potential evapotranspiration. By 2099, roughly 76% (55% to 89%) of the boreal region might reach crop feasible GDD conditions, compared to the current 32%. The leading edge of the feasible GDD will shift northwards up to 1200 km by 2099 while the altitudinal shift remains marginal. However, most of the newly gained areas are associated with highly seasonal and monthly variations in climatic water balances, a critical component of any future land-use and management decisions.

Item Type: Article
Item ID: 13673
Additional Information: Memorial University Open Access Author's Fund
Department(s): Grenfell Campus > School of Science and the Environment
Date: 21 May 2018
Date Type: Publication
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