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American University of Beirut (2018)

Crop suitability modeling under climate change scenarios in the Near East -

Abdallah, Chafik Ghassan,

Titre : Crop suitability modeling under climate change scenarios in the Near East -

Auteur : Abdallah, Chafik Ghassan,

Université de soutenance  : American University of Beirut

Grade : Master of Science (MS) 2018

The Near East region is an arid region susceptible to climate-induced effects on food security and water resources. Climate change will lead to major shifts in areas suitable for agriculture. The aim of this research is to predict the suitability of the major crops grown in this region. The suitability analysis was performed using the EcoCrop model considering the precipitation and temperature thresholds using an aggregation procedure. The main objectives of this study are to determine 1) changes in suitable areas for cultivation and 2) changes in evapotranspiration and yield for major agricultural crops in the Near East region. Crop suitability maps were derived using the EcoCrop model for the benchmark period (based on average climatic data for 1970-2000) and a future period (based on climatic forecasts for year 2050) under RCP8.5 emission scenario (RCP stands for Representative Concentration pathway and it is a greenhouse gas concentration trajectory) for 19 crops. Crop evapotranspiration, yield and water productivity for the both the benchmark and future periods were derived using the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) AquaCrop model. The outputs of the two models were compared and assessed to check for possible correlations in changes of yield and suitability. Globally, results show that the major gains in crop suitability of wheat, barley, coffee, rice, cotton and tobacco will be in Europe, while reductions in suitability will be spread over the continents depending on the climate and location. The suitability of fruit trees, legumes, oil producing crops, vegetables and wheat & barley will decrease (by 22-58%) by year 2050 in the croplands of the Jordan, Orontes and Litani river basins. The suitability of oil producing crops in the croplands of Euphrates-Tigris (ETRB) will increase (+15% in ETRB) with no change within the Nile River Basin (NRB). The suitability of other crop groups in ETRB & NRB is projected to decrease. AquaCrop results show that evapotranspiration will increase in the Jordan (4 - 24%), Litani (2 - 15%), and Orontes (2 - 14%) river basins. Comparison between the two models show that it is important to distinguish between rainfed and irrigated crops and changes in crop growing season to arrive at conclusive results. Unless major interventions in agricultural and water policies take place in response to scientific information, food and water security in the Near East region will continue to be threatened.

[ Mots Clés : Climate change, emission scenarios, general circulation models, RCP8.5, crop suitability, AquaCrop, EcoCrop, crop yield, evapotranspiration, water productivity, Near East, modelling, croplands, and Jordan, Orontes, Litani, Nile, and Euphrates-Tigris River Basins


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