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Climate oscillations are periodically fluctuating oceanic and atmospheric phenomena, which are related to variations in weather patterns and crop yields worldwide. In terms of crop production, the most widespread impacts have been observed for the El Niño-Southern Oscillation (ENSO), which has been found to impact crop yields on all continents that produce crops, while two other climate oscillations - the Indian Ocean Dipole (IOD) and the North Atlantic Oscillation (NAO) - have been shown to especially impact crop production in Australia and Europe, respectively. In this study, we analyse the impacts of ENSO, IOD, and NAO on the growing conditions of maize, rice, soybean, and wheat at the global scale by utilising crop yield data from an ensemble of global gridded crop models simulated for a range of crop management scenarios. Our results show that, while accounting for their potential co-variation, climate oscillations are correlated with simulated crop yield variability to a wide extent (half of all maize and wheat harvested areas for ENSO) and in several important crop-producing areas, e.g. in North America (ENSO, wheat), Australia (IOD and ENSO, wheat), and northern South America (ENSO, soybean). Further, our analyses show that higher sensitivity to these oscillations can be observed for rainfed and fully fertilised scenarios, while the sensitivity tends to be lower if crops were to be fully irrigated. Since the development of ENSO, IOD, and NAO can potentially be forecasted well in advance, a better understanding about the relationship between crop production and these climate oscillations can improve the resilience of the global food system to climate-related shocks.
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WASCO: Global Water Scarcity Atlas: understanding resource pressure, causes, consequences, and opportunities
01/10/2016 → 30/09/2018
Project: Academy of Finland: Other research funding