CR 27:135-144 (2004)  -  doi:10.3354/cr027135

Influence of climate variability on Europeanagriculture—analysis of winter wheat production

Pierre Cantelaube1, Jean-Michel Terres1,*, Francisco J. Doblas-Reyes2

1European Community Joint Research Centre, Institute for Environment and Sustainability, TP 262, 21020 Ispra (VA), Italy
2European Centre for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts, Shinfield Park, Reading RG2 9AX, UK
*Corresponding author. Email:

ABSTRACT: European agricultural production is influenced by the space-time distribution of regional climate. Because regional distributions of temperature and precipitation in Europe are affected by changes in the wintertime atmospheric circulation, this paper aims at identifying the relationships between the wintertime Euro-Atlantic variability and wheat yield for the Member States of the European Union. An empirical orthogonal function (EOF) decomposition of the 500 hPa geopotential height fields is used to describe the wintertime climate variability, associating the leading 4 components of the EOF decomposition into known climatic patterns (such as North Atlantic Oscillation or Eastern Atlantic patterns). Using statistical methods such as ANOVA, linear regression and ‘leave-one-out’ cross-validation, those patterns are related to time series of wheat yield anomalies. It is shown that, depending on the country, there is a link between wheat yield and modes of winter climate variability, and this link differs from the relationship between temperature and precipitation with the modes. Looking ahead to the improvement of seasonal climate forecasts, it is expected that such meteorological patterns may be predicted with some accuracy, which in turn could improve crop yield forecasts.


KEY WORDS: Euro-Atlantic climate variability · Wheat yield · Europe · NAO


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