How is climate change affecting the water-limited productivity of agricultural crops across Europe?

Policy Question
Indicator codes: CLIM 032

Key messages

(20 Dec 2016)

  • Yields of several rainfed crops are levelling off (e.g. wheat in some European countries) or decreasing (e.g. grapes in Spain), whereas yields of other crops (e.g. maize in northern Europe) are increasing. These changes are attributed partly to observed climate change, in particular warming.
  • Extreme climatic events, including droughts and heat waves, have negatively affected crop productivity in Europe during the first decade of the 21st century.
  • Future climate change could lead to both decreases and increases in average yield, depending on the crop type and the climatic and management conditions in the region. There is a general pattern of projected increases in productivity in northern Europe and reductions in southern Europe, but with differences between crop types.
  • Projected increases in extreme climatic events are expected to increase crop yield variability and to lead to yield reductions in the future throughout Europe.

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