Climate analogues suggests limited potential for intensification of production on current croplands under climate change
This article by Nature Communications provides a complementary method of assessing the effect of climate change on crop yields. By combining observations of current maximum-attainable yield with climate analogues, strong reductions in attainable yields of major cereal crops are found across a large fraction of current cropland by 2050. These areas are vulnerable to climate change and have greatly reduced opportunity for agricultural intensification. However, the total land area, including regions not currently used for crops, climatically suitable for high attainable yields of maize, wheat and rice is similar by 2050 to the present-day. Large shifts in land-use patterns and crop choice will likely be necessary to sustain production growth rates and keep pace with demand. Furthermore, for achieving attainable yields projected by the analogue approach, the results imply the need to transfer technologies and knowledge over large distances, demonstrating that there is yet another important dimension in the agricultural challenge that requires a global perspective; not only trade and markets, but also production knowledge needs to be globalized.