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Agricultural and Forest Meteorology
Vol. 208, 20
15, Pages: 76–84

Potential benefits of climate change for crop productivity in China

Xiaoguang Yang, Fu Chen, Xiaomao Lin, Zhijuan Liu, Hailin Zhang, Jin Zhao, Kenan Li, Qing Ye, Yong Li, Shuo Lv, Peng Yang, Wenbin Wu, Zhengguo Li, Rattan Lal, Huajun Tang

College of Resources and Environmental Sciences, China Agricultural University, No. 2 Yuanmingyuan West Rd., Haidian District, Beijing 100193, China.


Multiple cropping systems are particularly important in China to feed the 19% of the world’s population with only 8% of the arable land. Rising temperatures can dramatically affect multiple cropping systems and, as a consequence, food security in China. Here, we investigate the impacts of climate change on the northern limits and crop planting areas of multiple cropping systems in China, and estimate the impacts of the change in the crop planting areas of multiple cropping systems on the China’s crop production (maize, wheat, and rice). Based on both historical climate observations from the China Meteorological Administration and future climate A1B emission scenario (IPCC, 2007) data for China, we evaluate the effects of climate change on multiple cropping systems in China. Historical statistical crop yield and simulated crop yield by Agricultural Production Systems Simulator (APSIM model) in 2011–2100 were used to quantify the crop production (maize, wheat, and rice) in China. We found that the northern limits of multiple cropping systems have been shifted northward. The projected area of cultivated land for triple-cropping system may significantly expand during the 21st century. The northern shifts resulted in a 2.2% (∼8,000,000 t) increase in national production of three major crops (maize, wheat, and rice) during the period from 1981 to 2010, positively impacting China’s food security. Therefore, we conclude that the warming due to climate change may cause a positive impact on the crop production in China if concomitant changes adapted in multiple cropping systems take place.

Keywords: Climate change; Crop productivity; Multiple cropping systems; Crop planting area; China; Food security.

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