Climate adaptation by crop migration

Lindsey L. Sloat, Steven J. Davis, James S. Gerber, Frances C. Moore, Deepak K. Ray, Paul C. West, Nathaniel D. Mueller

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

26 Scopus citations

Abstract

Many studies have estimated the adverse effects of climate change on crop yields, however, this literature almost universally assumes a constant geographic distribution of crops in the future. Movement of growing areas to limit exposure to adverse climate conditions has been discussed as a theoretical adaptive response but has not previously been quantified or demonstrated at a global scale. Here, we assess how changes in rainfed crop area have already mediated growing season temperature trends for rainfed maize, wheat, rice, and soybean using spatially-explicit climate and crop area data from 1973 to 2012. Our results suggest that the most damaging impacts of warming on rainfed maize, wheat, and rice have been substantially moderated by the migration of these crops over time and the expansion of irrigation. However, continued migration may incur substantial environmental costs and will depend on socio-economic and political factors in addition to land suitability and climate.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number1243
JournalNature communications
Volume11
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - Dec 1 2020

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
L.S. and N.M. were supported by USDA NIFA (2016-67012-27434). S.D. and F.M. were supported by the U.S. National Science Foundation and USDA NIFA (INFEWS grant EAR 1639318, NIFA grant 12225279). J.G., D.R., and P.W. were supported by the Belmont Forum/FACCE-JPI funded DEVIL project (NE/M021327/1) and the Institute on the Environment.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2020, The Author(s).

PubMed: MeSH publication types

  • Journal Article
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

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