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E.T.S.I. Agrónomos (UPM) 2015

Climate variability effects on field crops in Iberian Peninsula. Predictability

Capa Morocho, M. 

Titre : Climate variability effects on field crops in Iberian Peninsula. Predictability

Auteur : Capa Morocho, M. 

Université de soutenance : E.T.S.I. Agrónomos (UPM)

Grade : Doctoral Theis 2015

The present thesis constitutes a step forward in advancing of knowledge of the effects of climate variability on crops in the Iberian Peninsula (IP). It is well known that ocean temperature, particularly the tropical ocean, is one of the most convenient variables to be used as climate predictor. Oceans are considered as the principal heat storage of the planet due to the high heat capacity of water. When this energy is released, it alters the global atmospheric circulation regimes by teleconnection1 mechanisms. These changes in the general circulation of the atmosphere affect the regional temperature, precipitation, moisture, wind, etc., and those influence crop growth, development and yield. For the case of Europe, this implies that the atmospheric variability in a specific region is associated with the variability of others adjacent and/or remote regions as a consequence of Europe being affected by global circulations patterns which, in turn, are affected by oceanic patterns. The general objective of this Thesis is to analyze the variability of crop yields at climate time scales and its relation to the climate variability and teleconnections, as well as to evaluate their predictability. Moreover, this Thesis aims to establish a methodology to study the predictability of crop yield anomalies. The analysis focuses on wheat and maize as a reference crops for other field crops in the IP, for winter rainfed crops and summer irrigated crops respectively. Crop simulation experiments using a model chain methodology (climate + crop) are designed to evaluate the impacts of climate variability patterns on yield and its predictability. The present Thesis is structured in two parts. The first part is focused on the climate variability analyses, and the second part is an application of the quantitative crop forecasting for years that fulfill specific conditions identified in the first part. This Thesis is divided into 4 chapters, covering the specific objectives of the present research work. Part I. Climate variability analyses The first chapter shows an analysis of potential yield variability in one location, as a bioclimatic indicator of the El Niño teleconnections with Europe, putting forward its importance for improving predictability in both climate and agriculture. It also presents the chosen methodology to relate yield with atmospheric and oceanic variables. Crop yield is partially determined by atmospheric climate variability, which in turn depends on changes in the sea surface temperature (SST). El Niño is the leading mode of SST interannual variability, and its impacts extend worldwide. Nevertheless, the predictability of these impacts is controversial, especially those associated with European climate variability, which have been found to be non-stationary and non-linear. The study showed how potential2 crop yield obtained from reanalysis data and crop models serves as an alternative and more effective index of El Niño teleconnections because it integrates the nonlinearities between the climate variables in a unique time series. The relationships between El Niño and crop yield anomalies are more significant than the individual contributions of each of the atmospheric variables used as input in the crop model. Additionally, the non-stationarities between El Niño and European climate variability are more clearly detected when analyzing crop-yield variability. The understanding of this relationship allows for some predictability up to one year before the crop is harvested. This predictability is not constant, but depends on both high and low frequency modulation. The second chapter identifies the oceanic and atmospheric patterns of climate variability affecting summer cropping systems in the IP. Moreover, hypotheses about the eco-physiological mechanism behind crop response are presented. It is focused on an analysis of maize yield variability in IP for the whole twenty century, using a calibrated crop model at five contrasting Spanish locations and reanalyses climate datasets to obtain long time series of potential yield. The study tests the use of reanalysis data for obtaining only climate dependent time series of simulated crop yield for the whole region, and to use these yield to analyze the influences of oceanic and atmospheric patterns. The results show a good reliability of reanalysis data. The spatial distribution of the leading principal component of yield variability shows a similar behaviour over all the studied locations in the IP. The strong linear correlation between El Niño index and yield is remarkable, being this relation non-stationary on time, although the air temperature-yield relationship remains on time, being the highest influences during grain filling period. Regarding atmospheric patterns, the summer Scandinavian pattern has significant influence on yield in IP. The third chapter identifies the oceanic and atmospheric patterns of climate variability affecting winter cropping systems in the IP. Also, hypotheses about the eco-physiological mechanism behind crop response are presented. It is focused on an analysis of rainfed wheat yield variability in IP. Climate variability is the main driver of changes in crop growth, development and yield, especially for rainfed production systems. In IP, wheat yields are strongly dependent on seasonal rainfall amount and temporal distribution of rainfall during the growing season. The major source of precipitation interannual variability in IP is the North Atlantic Oscillation (NAO) which has been related in part with changes in the Tropical Pacific (El Niño) and Atlantic (TNA) sea surface temperature (SST). The existence of some predictability has encouraged us to analyze the possible predictability of the wheat yield in the IP using SSTs anomalies as predictor. For this purpose, a crop model with a site specific calibration for the Northeast of IP and reanalysis climate datasets have been used to obtain long time series of attainable wheat yield and relate their variability with SST anomalies. The results show that El Niño and TNA influence rainfed wheat development and yield in IP and these impacts depend on the concurrent state of the NAO. Although crop-SST relationships do not equally hold on during the whole analyzed period, they can be explained by an understood and stationary ecophysiological mechanism. During the second half of the twenty century, the positive (negative) TNA index is associated to a negative (positive) phase of NAO, which exerts a positive (negative) influence on minimum temperatures (Tmin) and precipitation (Prec) during winter and, thus, yield increases (decreases) in IP. In relation to El Niño, the highest correlation takes place in the period 1981-2001. For these decades, high (low) yields are associated with an El Niño to La Niña (La Niña to El Niño) transitions or to El Niño events finishing. For these events, the regional associated atmospheric pattern resembles the NAO, which also influences directly on the maximum temperatures (Tmax) and precipitation experienced by the crop during flowering and grain filling. The co-effects of the two teleconnection patterns help to increase (decrease) the rainfall and decrease (increase) Tmax in IP, thus on increase (decrease) wheat yield. Part II. Crop forecasting The last chapter analyses the potential benefits for wheat and maize yields prediction from using seasonal climate forecasts (precipitation), and explores methods to apply such a climate forecast to crop models. Seasonal climate prediction has significant potential to contribute to the efficiency of agricultural management, and to food and livelihood security. Climate forecasts come in different forms, but probabilistic. For this purpose, two methods were evaluated and applied for disaggregating seasonal climate forecast into daily weather realizations : 1) a conditioned stochastic weather generator (predictWTD) and 2) a simple forecast probability resampler (FResampler1). The two methods were evaluated in a case study where the impacts of three scenarios of seasonal rainfall forecasts on rainfed wheat yield, on irrigation requirements and yields of maize in IP were analyzed. In addition, we estimated the economic margins and production risks associated with extreme scenarios of seasonal rainfall forecasts (dry and wet). The predWTD and FResampler1 methods used for disaggregating seasonal rainfall forecast into daily data needed by the crop simulation models provided comparable predictability. Therefore both methods seem feasible options for linking seasonal forecasts with crop simulation models for establishing yield forecasts or irrigation water requirements. The analysis of the impact on gross margin of grain prices for both crops and maize irrigation costs suggests the combination of market prices expected and the seasonal climate forecast can be a good tool in farmer’s decision-making, especially on dry forecast and/or in locations with low annual precipitation. These methodologies would allow quantifying the benefits and risks of a seasonal weather forecast to farmers in IP. Therefore, we would be able to establish early warning systems and to design crop management adaptation strategies that take advantage of favorable conditions or reduce the effect of adverse conditions. The potential usefulness of this Thesis is to apply the relationships found to crop forecasting on the next cropping season, suggesting opportunity time windows for the prediction. The methodology can be used as well for the prediction of future trends of IP yield variability. Both public (improvement of agricultural planning) and private (decision support to farmers, insurance companies) sectors may benefit from such an improvement of crop forecasting.

Mots Clés : SST, El Niño, La Niña, Tropical North Atlantic, crop model, maize, wheat, potential and attainable yield, NAO, teleconnection patterns, winter and summer crops, Iberian Peninsula, reanalysis dataset, crop forecasting ; stochastic weather generators


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