The objective of the study is to provide a European assessment of the potential effects of climate change on agricultural crop production and monetary estimates of these impacts for the European agricultural sector. The future scenarios incorporate socio economic projections derived from several SRES scenarios and climate projections obtained from global climate models and regional climate models.
The work links biophysical and statistical models in a rigorous and testable methodology, based on current understanding of processes of crop growth and development, to quantify crop responses to changing climate conditions. European crop yield changes were modeled under the HadCM3/HIRHAM A2 and B2 scenarios for the period 2071 - 2100 and for the ECHAM4/RCA3 A2 scenario for the period 2011 - 2040. The yield changes include the direct positive effects of CO2 on the crops, the rainfed and irrigated simulations in each district.
Although each scenario projects different results, all three scenarios are consistent in the spatial distribution of effects. Crop suitability and productivity increases in Northern Europe are caused by lengthened growing season, decreasing cold effects on growth, and extension of the frost-free period. Crop productivity decreases in Southern Europe are caused by shortening of the growing period, with subsequent negative effects on grain filling. It is very important to notice that the simulations considered no restrictions in water availability for irrigation due to changes in policy. In all cases, the simulations did not include restrictions in the application of nitrogen fertilizer. Therefore the results should be considered optimistic from the production point and pessimistic from the environmental point of view.