Crop-yield variability

Indicator Specification
Indicator codes: CLIM 032
Created 11 Jul 2008 Published 08 Sep 2008 Last modified 28 Jun 2016, 05:51 PM
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Topics: ,
Sensitivity of cereal yields to climate change for maize and wheat

Update planned for November 2012

Assessment versions

Published (reviewed and quality assured)
  • No published assessments


Justification for indicator selection

Climate change introduces new uncertainties for the future of the agricultural sector. Climatic conditions are projected to become more erratic with an increase in the frequency of extreme events (floods, hurricanes, heat waves, severe droughts) (Parry, 2000). Biomass production of plants, and thus crop yields, are fundamentally determined by climatic conditions, i.e. the stable availability of energy (radiation, temperature) and water (rain) to support growth. Other environmental and anthropogenic factors, such as soil fertility, crop varieties and farming practices, also influence crop yields. These factors imply that, in principle, many adaptation options are available to adjust agricultural practices to the changing climate, but that opportunities differ between regions.

Scientific references

  • References Alexander, L. V.; Zhang, X.; Peterson, T. C.; Caesar, J.; Gleason, B.; Klein Tank, A. M. G.; Haylock, M.; Collins, D.; Trewin, B.; Rahimzadeh, F.; Tagipour, A.; Rupa Kumar, K.; Revadekar, J.; Griffiths, G.; Vincent, l.; Stephenson, D. B.; Burn, J.; Aguilar, E.; Brunet, M.; Taylor, M.; New, M.; Zhai, P.; Rusticucci, M. and Vazquez-Aguirre, J. l., 2006. Global observed changes in daily climate extremes of temperature and precipitation. Journal of Geophysical Research 111(D5): D05109. Alpert, P.; Ben-gai, T.; Baharad, A.; Benjamini, Y.; Yekutieli, D.; Colacino, M.; Diodato, L.; Ramis, C.; Homar, V.; Romero, R.; Michaelides, S. and Manes, A., 2002. The paradoxical increase of Mediterranean extreme daily rainfall in spite of decrease in total values. Geophysical Research Letters 29 (11): 31-1-31-4. Bongaarts, J., 1994. Can the growing human population feed itself?, Scientific American 270 (3): 18-24. Brunetti, M.; Maugeri, M.; Monti, F. and Nanni, T., 2004. Changes in daily precipitation frequency and distribution in Italy over the last 120 years. Journal of Geophysical Research 109 (D05): D05102. Easterling, W. E.; Aggarwal, P. K.; Batima, P.; Brander, K. M.; Erda, L.; Howden, S. M.; Kirilenko, A.; Morton, J.; Soussana, J.-F.; Schmidhuber, J. and Tubiello, F. N., 2007. Food, fibre and forest products. Climate Change 2007: Impacts, Adaptation and Vulnerability. Contribution of Working Group II to the Fourth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, Parry, M. L.; Canziani, O.F.; Palutikof, J. P.; van der Linden, P. J. and Hanson, C. E. (eds.), Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, UK, 273-313. EC, MARS Bulletins, 2008. .

Indicator definition

  • Sensitivity of cereal yields to climate change for maize and wheat


Policy context and targets

Context description

In April 2009 the European Commission presented a White Paper on the framework for adaptation policies and measures to reduce the European Union's vulnerability to the impacts of climate change. The aim is to increase the resilience to climate change of health, property and the productive functions of land, inter alia by improving the management of water resources and ecosystems. More knowledge is needed on climate impact and vulnerability but a considerable amount of information and research already exists which can be shared better through a proposed Clearing House Mechanism. The White Paper stresses the need to mainstream adaptation into existing and new EU policies. A number of Member States have already taken action and several have prepared national adaptation plans. The EU is also developing actions to enhance and finance adaptation in developing countries as part of a new post-2012 global climate agreement expected in Copenhagen (Dec. 2009). For more information see:


No targets have been specified

Related policy documents

No related policy documents have been specified

Key policy question


Data specifications

EEA data references

  • No datasets have been specified here.

External data references

Data sources in latest figures


Methodology uncertainty

Data sets uncertainty

Rationale uncertainty

No uncertainty has been specified

Further work

Short term work

Work specified here requires to be completed within 1 year from now.

Long term work

Work specified here will require more than 1 year (from now) to be completed.

General metadata

Responsibility and ownership

EEA Contact Info

Hans-Martin Füssel


Joint Research Centre (JRC)
European Environment Agency (EEA)


Indicator code
CLIM 032
Version id: 1
Primary theme: Climate change Climate change


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DPSIR: Impact
Typology: Descriptive indicator (Type A - What is happening to the environment and to humans?)
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