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The impact of future climate change on West African crop yields: What does the recent literature say?

Abstract : In West Africa, agriculture, mainly rainfed, is a major economic sector and the one most vulnerable to climate change. A meta-database of future crop yields, built up from 16 recent studies, is used to provide an overall assessment of the potential impact of climate change on yields, and to analyze sources of uncertainty. Despite a large dispersion of yield changes ranging from -50% to +90%, the median is a yield loss near -11%. This negative impact is assessed by both empirical and process-based crop models whereas the Ricardian approach gives very contrasted results, even within a single study. The predicted impact is larger in northern West Africa (Sudano-Sahelian countries, -18% median response) than in southern West Africa (Guinean countries, -13%) which is likely due to drier and warmer projections in the northern part of West Africa. Moreover, negative impacts on crop productivity increase in severity as warming intensifies, with a median yield loss near -15% with most intense warming, highlighting the importance of global warming mitigation. The consistently negative impact of climate change results mainly from the temperature whose increase projected by climate models is much larger relative to precipitation change. However, rainfall changes, still uncertain in climate projections, have the potential to exacerbate or mitigate this impact depending on whether rainfall decreases or increases. Finally, results highlight the pivotal role that the carbon fertilization effect may have on the sign and amplitude of change in crop yields. This effect is particularly strong for a high carbon dioxide concentration scenario and for C3 crops (e.g. soybean, cassava). As staple crops are mainly C4 (e.g. maize, millet, sorghum) in WA, this positive effect is less significant for the region. (C) 2011 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
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Philippe Roudier, Benjamin Sultan, Philippe Quirion, Alexis Berg. The impact of future climate change on West African crop yields: What does the recent literature say?. Global Environmental Change, Elsevier, 2011, 21 (3), pp.1073-1083. ⟨10.1016/j.gloenvcha.2011.04.007⟩. ⟨hal-00715355⟩



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