The Effect of Spatial Scale of Climatic Change Scenarios on Simulated Maize, Winter Wheat, and Rice Production in the Southeastern United States

E. A. Tsvetsinskaya; L. O. Mearns; T. Mavromatis; W. Gao; L. McDaniel; M. W. Downton
September 2003
Climatic Change;Sep2003, Vol. 60 Issue 1/2, p37
Academic Journal
We use the CERES family of crop models to assess the effect of different spatial scales of climate change scenarios on the simulated yield changes of maize (Zea mays L.), winter wheat (Triticum aestivum L.), and rice (Oryza sativa L.) in the Southeastern United States. The climate change scenarios were produced with the control and doubled CO2 runs of a high resolution regional climate model and a coarse resolution general circulation model, which provided the initial and lateral boundary conditions for the regional model. Three different cases were considered for each scenario: climate change alone, climate change plus elevated CO2, and the latter with adaptations. On the state level, for most cases, significant differences in the climate changed yields for corn were found, the coarse scale scenario usually producing larger modeled yield decreases or smaller increases. For wheat, however, which suffered large decreases in yields for all cases, very little contrast in yield based on scale of scenario was found. Scenario scale resulted in significantly different rice yields, but mainly because of low variability in yields. For maize the primary climate variable that explained the contrast in the yields calculated from the two scenarios is the precipitation during grain fill leading to different water stress levels. Temperature during vernalization explains some contrasts in winter wheat yields. With adaptation, the contrasts in the yields of all crops produced by the scenarios were reduced but not entirely removed. Our results indicate that spatial resolution of climate change scenarios can be an important uncertainty in climate change impact assessments, depending on the crop and management conditions.


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