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Assessing the effects of climate change on crop production and GHG emissions in Canada

Smith, W.N., Grant, B.B., Desjardins, R.L., Kroebel, R., Li, C., Qian, B., Worth, D.E., McConkey, B.G., Drury, C.F. (2013). Assessing the effects of climate change on crop production and GHG emissions in Canada, 179 139-150.


Regions in northern latitudes are likely to be strongly affected by climate change with shifts in weather that may be conducive to increased agricultural productivity. In this study the DNDC model was used to assess the effect of climate change on crop production and GHG emissions at long-term experimental sites in Canada. Crop production in the model was parameterized using measured data, and then simulations were performed using historical weather (1961-1990) and future IPCC SRES climate scenarios (2040-2069). The DNDC model predicted that for western Canada under the SRES scenarios and no change in cultivar, yields of spring wheat would increase by 37% and winter wheat by 70%. Corn responded favorably to an increase in heat units at the eastern site with a 60% increase in yields. At all locations, yields were projected to increase further when new cultivars with higher GDD requirements were assumed. These increases were notable considering that the estimated soil water deficit indices indicated that there could be less water available for crop growth in the future. However, when accounting for increased water use efficiency under elevated CO2, DNDC predicted less crop water stress. Nitrous oxide emissions per ton of wheat were projected to increase across most of western Canada by about 60% on average for the A1b and A2 SRES scenarios and by about 30% for the B1 scenario. Nitrous oxide emissions per unit area were predicted to increase under corn production at the eastern location but to remain stable per ton of grain. Model results indicated that climate change in Canada will favor increased crop production but this may be accompanied by an increase in net GHG emissions for small grain production. © 2013.

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