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CR 83:161-171 (2021)  -  DOI: https://doi.org/10.3354/cr01646

Using ensemble-mean climate scenarios for future crop yield projections: a stochastic weather generator approach

Di Ma1,2, Qi Jing2, Yue-Ping Xu1, Alex J. Cannon3, Taifeng Dong2, Mikhail A. Semenov4, Budong Qian2,*

1Institute of Hydrology and Water Resources, Zhejiang University, Hangzhou 310058, PR China
2Ottawa Research and Development Centre, Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, Ottawa, ON K1A 0C6, Canada
3Climate Research Division, Environment and Climate Change Canada, Victoria, BC V8W 3R4, Canada
4Rothamsted Research, Harpenden, Hertfordshire AL5 2JQ, UK
*Corresponding author:

ABSTRACT: Using climate scenarios from only 1 or a small number of global climate models (GCMs) in climate change impact studies may lead to biased assessment due to large uncertainty in climate projections. Ensemble means in impact projections derived from a multi-GCM ensemble are often used as best estimates to reduce bias. However, it is often time consuming to run process-based models (e.g. hydrological and crop models) in climate change impact studies using numerous climate scenarios. It would be interesting to investigate if using a reduced number of climate scenarios could lead to a reasonable estimate of the ensemble mean. In this study, we generated a single ensemble-mean climate scenario (En-WG scenario) using ensemble means of the change factors derived from 20 GCMs included in CMIP5 to perturb the parameters in a weather generator, LARS-WG, for selected locations across Canada. We used En-WG scenarios to drive crop growth models in DSSAT ver. 4.7 to simulate crop yields for canola and spring wheat under RCP4.5 and RCP8.5 emission scenarios. We evaluated the potential of using the En-WG scenarios to simulate crop yields by comparing them with crop yields simulated with the LARS-WG generated climate scenarios based on each of the 20 GCMs (WG scenarios). Our results showed that simulated crop yields using the En-WG scenarios were often close to the ensemble means of simulated crop yields using the 20 WG scenarios with a high probability of outperforming simulations based on a randomly selected GCM. Further studies are required, as the results of the proposed approach may be influenced by selected crop types, crop models, weather generators, and GCM ensembles.


KEY WORDS: Global climate models · LARS-WG · DSSAT · Wheat · Canola · Simulation


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Cite this article as: Ma D, Jing Q, Xu YP, Cannon AJ, Dong T, Semenov MA, Qian B (2021) Using ensemble-mean climate scenarios for future crop yield projections: a stochastic weather generator approach. Clim Res 83:161-171. https://doi.org/10.3354/cr01646

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