A regional climate change model (PRECIS) for China, developed by the UK's Hadley Centre, was used to simulate China's climate and to develop climate change scenarios for the country. Results from this project suggest that, depending on the level of future emissions, the average annual temperature increase in China by the end of the twenty-first century may be between 3 and 4 °C. Regional crop models were driven by PRECIS output to predict changes in yields of key Chinese food crops: rice, maize and wheat. Modelling suggests that climate change without carbon dioxide (CO2) fertilization could reduce the rice, maize and wheat yields by up to 37% in the next 20–80 years. Interactions of CO2 with limiting factors, especially water and nitrogen, are increasingly well understood and capable of strongly modulating observed growth responses in crops. More complete reporting of free-air carbon enrichment experiments than was possible in the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change's Third Assessment Report confirms that CO2 enrichment under field conditions consistently increases biomass and yields in the range of 5–15%, with CO2 concentration elevated to 550 ppm Levels of CO2 that are elevated to more than 450 ppm will probably cause some deleterious effects in grain quality. It seems likely that the extent of the CO2 fertilization effect will depend upon other factors such as optimum breeding, irrigation and nutrient applications.
- © 2005 The Royal Society