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Departments & Programs


Climate change impacts and adaptation

What are the risks that climate change poses to regional and global food production? And what are the specific adaptations that should be pursued to reduce the risk of impacts from imminent climate changes? For example, will shifting to different planting dates or existing varieties work well, and if so where? What specific new traits need to be developed for crops? The goal of this research is to provide a sound scientific basis for investment in adaptation to climate change.

Related Recent Publications

(Note: for a regularly updated list of publications, see here)

Gourdji, S., Läderach, P., Valle, A. M., Martinez, C. Z., & Lobell, D. B. (2015). Historical climate trends, deforestation, and maize and bean yields in Nicaragua. Agricultural and Forest Meteorology, 200, 270–281. doi:10.1016/j.agrformet.2014.10.002

Lobell, D. B., Roberts, M. J., Schlenker, W., Braun, N., Little, B. B., Rejesus, R. M., & Hammer, G. L. (2014). Greater Sensitivity to Drought Accompanies Maize Yield Increase in the U.S. Midwest. Science, 344(6183), 516–519. doi:10.1126/science.1251423

 Challinor, A. J., Watson, J., Lobell, D. B., Howden, S. M., Smith, D. R., & Chhetri, N. (2014). A meta-analysis of crop yield under climate change and adaptation, (March), 1–5. doi:10.1038/NCLIMATE2153

Hertel, T. W., & Lobell, D. B. (2014). Agricultural adaptation to climate change in rich and poor countries: Current modeling practice and potential for empirical contributions. Energy Economics.

Lobell, D. B. (2014). Climate change adaptation in crop production: Beware of illusions. Global Food Security, 3, 72–76.

Lobell, D. B., & Tebaldi, C. (2014). Getting caught with our plants down: the risks of a global crop yield slowdown from climate trends in the next two decades. Environmental Research Letters, 9(7), 74003.

Moore, F. C., & Lobell, D. B. (2014). Adaptation potential of European agriculture in response to climate change. Nature Climate Change, 4(7), 610–614. doi:10.1038/nclimate2228

Sultan, B., Guan, K., Kouressy, M., Biasutti, M., Piani, C., Hammer, G. L., … Lobell, D. B. (2014). Robust features of future climate change impacts on sorghum yields in West Africa. Environmental Research Letters, 9(10), 104006. doi:10.1088/1748-9326/9/10/104006

Stone, D., Auffhammer, M., Carey, M., Hansen, G., Huggel, C., Cramer, W., Lobell, D., Molau, U., Solow, A., Tibig, L. and Yohe, G., 2013. The challenge to detect and attribute effects of climate change on human and natural systems. Climatic Change: 1-15.

Saba, A., Biasutti, M., Gerrard, M.
B., & Lobell, D. B. 2013. Getting Ahead of the Curve: Supporting Adaptation to Long-term Climate Change and Short-term Climate Variability Alike. Carbon and  Climate Law Review, 7(1), 3–23.

Gourdji, S.M., Sibley, A.M. and Lobell, D.B., 2013. Global crop exposure to critical high temperatures in the reproductive period: historical trends and future projections. Environmental Research Letters, 8(2): 024041.

McGrath, J.M. and Lobell, D.B., 2013. Regional disparities in the CO2 fertilization effect and implications for crop yields. Environmental Research Letters, 8(1): 014054.

Schlenker, W., Roberts, M.J. and Lobell, D.B., 2013. US maize adaptability. Nature Climate Change, 3(8): 690-691.

Lobell, D.B.. G.L. Hammer, G. McLean, C. Messina, M.J. Roberts, and W. Schlenker. 2013. The critical role of extreme heat for maize production in the United States, Nature Climate Change, DOI: 10.1038/NCLIMATE1832.

Gourdji, S.M., K. Matthews, M.
Reynolds, J. Cross, and D.B. Lobell. 2013. An assessment of wheat breeding gains in hot environments, Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society, 280: 1752.

Lobell, D.B. 2013. Errors in climate datasets and their effects on statistical crop models. Agricultural and Forest Meteorology, 170, 58-66

Lobell, D.B., and Gourdji, S.M., 2012. The influence of climate change on global crop productivity, Plant Physiology, 160: 1686-1697.

McGrath, J.M., & Lobell, D.B. 2012. Reduction of transpiration and altered nutrient allocation contribute to nutrient decline of crops grown in elevated CO2 concentrations. Plant, Cell & Environment, in press.

Urban, D., Roberts, M., Schlenker, W. and Lobell, D., 2012. Projected temperature changes indicate significant increase in interannual variability of U.S. maize yields. Climatic Change, 112(2): 525-533.

Lobell, D.B., Sibley, A. and Ivan Ortiz-Monasterio, J., 2012. Extreme heat effects on wheat senescence in India. Nature Clim. Change, advance online publication. DOI: 10.1038/NCLIMATE1356

Pongratz, J., Lobell, D.B., Cao, L. and Caldeira, K., 2012. Crop yields in a geoengineered climate. Nature Clim. Change, 2(2): 101-105.

Maltais-Landry, G. and Lobell, D.B., 2012. Evaluating the Contribution of Weather to Maize and Wheat Yield Trends in 12 US Counties. Agronomy journal, 104(2): 301.

Lobell, D. and Field, C., 2012. California perennial crops in a changing climate. Climatic Change, 109: 317-333.

Lobell, D., Torney, A. and Field,
C., 2012. Climate extremes in California agriculture. Climatic Change, 109: 355-363.

Lobell, D.B., W.S. Schlenker, and J. Costa-Roberts. 2011. Climate trends and global crop production since 1980. Science, doi:10.1126/science.1204531.

Lobell, D.B., Banziger, M., Magorokosho, C. and Vivek, B., 2011. Nonlinear heat effects on African maize as evidenced by historical yield trials. Nature Clim. Change, 1(1): 42-45.

McGrath, J.M., and D.B. Lobell. 2011. An independent method for deriving the carbon fertilization effect using historical yield data from wet and dry years. Global Change Biology, doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2486.2011.02406.x.

Schlenker W and Lobell DB. 2010. Robust negative impacts of climate change on African agriculture. Environmental Research Letters: 014010 (8pp)


Selected Project Descriptions

1. Prioritizing investments in climate adaptation for agriculture in Sub-Saharan Africa

2. Refining models of maize yield response to warming

3. Identifying crop development needs for adapting to extreme heat and drought