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Work package 2B Agriculture and water

Deliverable 2B1: Report review of the literature

Project: ClimateCost

Project full title: Full Costs of Climate Change

Grant agreement no.: 212774, collaborative project

Proposal/Contract no.: ENV.2007.

Start date of project: 01/01/09

Duration: 32 months


Ana Iglesias, Luis Garrote, Sonia Quiroga

Universidad Politecnica de Madrid, Spain

Date: 17/07/2009


Deliverable 2B1: Report review of the literature



Deliverable 2_1B vs 1.doc


July 2009


Ana Iglesias, Luis Garrote, Sonia Quiroga

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Project Coordinator: Thomas E Downing

Stockholm Environment Institute, Oxford

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Technical Coordinator: Paul Watkiss

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Table of Contents

Introduction and Objectives 1

1 Objectives of WP2B 1

1.1Objectives of deliverable D_2B1 1

2 A review of previous studies 2

Global impacts 3

1.2European wide impacts 5

1.3Synthesis of main impacts 11

1.4Monetary estimates 19

1.5Treatment of climate and socio-economic change 20

1.6Disparities in the results 20

3 A review of methods 21

1.7Approaches 21

1.8Models 23

1.9Economic models 27

1.10Summary of methods 30

1.11Treatment of adaptation 31

1.12Treatment of sectoral inter-linkages 36

4 Possible research strategy for ClimateCost 37

1.13Planned methods of analysis for the ClimateCost study 37

1.14Potential input to the integrated models and CGMs 42

5 References 43

Introduction and Objectives

1Objectives of WP2B

This work package focuses on agriculture and water resources.

The general objective of WP 2B is to assess impacts from climate change on agriculture and water availability with and without adaptation. The physical impacts will be derived in detail from the scenarios of climate variability and change provided by WP1 for Europe. Possible impacts for China may be derived if climate scenarios and data for validation of the physical models are available. The results of the WP will generate the information for integrated assessment models and the economic models.

The methodology will be an extension of the PESETA-Agriculture methodology, incorporating water availability and management and land use. The following aspects to be considered will be derived from the results of this Deliverable (literature review).

The output from the task will aim to respond to policy questions related to vulnerability of regions and social groups, conflicts among water users and adequacy and revision of existing policy. The results will provide the quantitative estimation of agricultural production and water requirements to be used in the economic analysis; the water quantification of water availability for other sectors; evaluation of water requirements under climate and policy scenarios, the economic and environmental valuation of agricultural production and water.


  • 2B1 Report Review of literature. Month 6.

  • 2B2 Report Analysis for Europe (model ready). Month 15.

  • 2B3 Report Analysis of impacts and adaptation for all scenarios and regions. Quantification of water requirement satisfaction across all sectors and evaluation of policy implications and scenarios (application of the model). Month 24.

    1. Objectives of deliverable D_2B1

This report aims to provide an improved understanding of the potential implications of climate change and adaptation options for agriculture and water for people. It also aims to assist policy to address the proprieties for adaptation.

Following this section, this report includes a (section 2), a review of previous knowledge (section 3), a review of methods (section 4), an analysis of key issues (section 5), Finally, the key recommendations are presented in section 6.

2A review of previous studies

Climatic conditions affect directly agriculture and water resources. Diseases and pest infestations over land and water are also weather-dependent. Societies, cultures and economies have evolved adapting to mean climatic conditions. The success of adaptation depends on the strategy, and it is determined by the economic, social, and environmental vulnerability.

In regions of the world that are sensitive to climatic hazards -- droughts, floods, temperature extremes, storms, such as the Mediterranean, agricultural production varies largely and conflicts over water resources are common. In areas that concentrate activities of high economic value, the vulnerability to extreme events is high. Regardless of the coping strategy, climate extremes may have catastrophic consequences, particularly if such anomalies are not predicted.

Climate is a main determinant of the productivity of the land and potential development of water resources. While aspects of climate change such as longer growing seasons and warmer temperatures may bring some benefits; there will also be a range of adverse impacts, including reduced water availability and more frequent extreme weather events. Agriculture has shown, throughout history, a great ability to adapt to changing conditions, with or without a conscious response by farmers. Water for people is always adapting to changes in society. However, it is likely that the changes imposed by climate change in the future and as expressed above will and have exceeded the limits of natural adaptation, thereby requiring policies to support and enable major changes in management.

There have been several hundred studies into the potential impacts of climate change in water and agriculture. Studies have focussed on particular issues (e.g. soil erosion, biodiversity, and farm income), time-frames (e.g. 2020s, 2050s, and 2100), scenarios (e.g. SRES) and spatial scales (from local to global). Current knowledge about potential impacts is diverse and often fragmented. Below is a literature review that includes:

  • Global impacts: food production and irrigation water requirements

  • European wide impacts: agricultural productivity

  • Synthesis of main impacts

  • Treatment of climate and socioeconomic change

  • Disparities in the results

Global impacts

      1. Impacts on food production

Potential impacts of climate change on world food supply have been estimated in several studies (Parry et al., 2004). Results show that some regions may improve production, while others suffer yield losses. This could lead to shifts of agricultural production zones around the world. Furthermore, different crops will be affected differently, leading to the need for adaptation of supporting industries and markets. Climate change may alter the competitive position of countries with respect, for example, to exports of agricultural products. This may result from yields increasing as a result of altered climate in one country, whilst being reduced in another. The altered competitive position may not only affect exports, but also regional and farm-level income, rural employment and, of course, the type of crops grown in a region. While most studies are unlikely to include an analysis of competitiveness itself, it is possible to evaluate the relative position of a country by studying these analyses of climate change effects on global food trade. Indeed, some data on country-level output are available as part of the global studies.

The combined model and scenario experiments demonstrate that the world, for the most part, appears to be able to continue to feed itself under the different climate and socio-economic scenarios during the rest of this century (Parry et al., 2004). However, this outcome is achieved through production in the developed countries (which mostly benefit from climate change) compensating for declines projected, for the most part, for developing nations. While global production appears stable, regional differences in crop production are likely to grow stronger through time, leading to a significant polarisation of effects, with substantial increases in prices and risk of hunger amongst the poorer nations, especially under scenarios of greater inequality.

Although Figure 1 shows that global production appears stable (additional quantitative data are provided by Parry et al., 2004), regional differences in crop production are likely to grow stronger through time, leading to a significant polarization of effects, with substantial increases in prices and risk of hunger amongst the poorer nations. The most serious effects are at the margins (vulnerable regions and groups). Individuals particularly vulnerable to environmental change are those with relatively high exposures to changes, high sensitivities to changes, low coping and adaptive capacities, and low resilience and recovery potential. Adaptation is necessary, but adaptation has limits (technology and biotechnology, political and cultural).

Figure 1 Percentage change in average crop yields for the HadCM2 climate change scenario. Source: Parry et al. (2004).

      1. Impacts on water for irrigation

In a warmer climate, irrigation water demand is expected to increase for most regions (Arnell, 1999). As shown in Figure 2, this increase is projected to be more pronounced in southern areas of Europe (Döll and Siebert, 2001). Simulations of the effects of climate change on the water balance at the European scale (Arnell, 1999) suggest that under most climate change scenarios, northern Europe would see an increase in annual average streamflow, but southern Europe would experience a reduction in streamflow. According to the IPCC (IPCC, 2007), the level of confidence of these projections is estimated to be medium to high.

Therefore, greater water shortages and increased competition between agricultural and urban as well as industrial uses of water are expected mostly for southern areas of Europe. This may lead to increasing restrictions on irrigation in agriculture and horticulture for these regions. For these reasons, we have characterized the potential intensity of this climate change impact as high for southern Europe.

Private adaptation options to these impacts include agronomic practices such as conservation tillage or irrigation management (Olesen and Bindi, 2002). Increased competition for scarce water resources may promote the introduction of more efficient irrigation systems (Abildtrup and Gylling, 2001). However, private coping capacity can be considered moderate for this climate change impact because, in most European regions, are highly dependent on the adaptation actions adopted by the hydrological sector, where public intervention continues to play a key role. Some authors have pointed out the need of reforming water markets to encourage a more prudent use of water (Olesen and Bindi, 2002).

Figure 2 Relative change of annual net irrigation requirement between present time (1961–1990) and 2025 as a result of climate change (MPI climate scenario; areas equipped for irrigation in 1995 shown). Source: Döll and Siebert, 2001.

    1. European wide impacts

      1. Agricultural productivity

Figure 3 shows that relative changes in European agricultural production are advantageous for northern countries while the most serious negative effects are in southern countries.

The effects of climate change and increased atmospheric carbon dioxide are expected to lead, overall, to small increases in European crop productivity at moderate warming. Yet within this macro scale, impacts on crop yields are expected to vary across Europe. In southern Europe, higher temperatures and droughts are projected to worsen conditions in a region already vulnerable to climate variability. Crop productivity will be negatively affected by reduced water supply and heat stress, and will be at risk from increased frequency of wildfires. In central and eastern Europe, summer rainfall is projected to decline leading to increased water stress. In northern Europe and Alpine regions, climate change is projected to bring mixed effects: initial benefits such as increased crop yields (at moderate levels of warming) are likely to be outweighed over time by more frequent flooding and increasing ground instability. Altered carbon and nitrogen cycles may affect soil erosion and water quality in all regions.

Some lowland crops that are currently grown in southern Europe will become viable further north or at higher altitudes. Energy crops (such as oilseed rape, maize, etc), solid bio-fuel crops, starch crops and barley show a northward expansion in potential cropping area, but a reduction in the south. Importantly, the potential benefits from climate change will only be possible if water requirements are met.

Rising temperatures are expected to increase the frequency of heat stress and the risk of disease in livestock. Severe heat stress will enhance the risk of mortality in intensive livestock systems, most notably for pigs and broiler chickens in northwest Europe. Warmer conditions will support the dispersal of disease-bearing insects (including new vectors currently limited by colder temperatures) and enhance the survival of viruses. The productivity of forage crops along the Atlantic coast may be reduced by drought such that availability is no longer sufficient for livestock feed at current demand.

Figure 3 Crop yield changes under the HadCM3/HIRHAM A2 and B2 scenarios for the period 2071-2100 and for the ECHAM4/ RCA3 A2 and B2 scenarios for the period 2011-2040 compared to baseline (Iglesias et al., 2007; PESETA Project).

      1. Risks and opportunities in the European agroclimatic regions

This section summarizes the projected impact of climate change in the main European agro-climatic areas based on state-of-the art knowledge. A detailed regional analysis of the risks and opportunities for the farming sector arising from these expected impacts in each area is presented in the following section.

Figure 3 Main agro-climatic zones in Europe (Source: Iglesias et al., 2007; PESETA)


Important changes in temperature and precipitation are expected. Temperature will increase considerably in these northern latitudes, especially in Finland, with very significant increases in yearly precipitation. Winters are projected to be much wetter increasing the risks of winter floods and flash floods. Intense precipitation and severe storms are also expected to become more frequent. There will be potential for cultivating new areas and crops due to much longer growing seasons. Yields could increase by 40%, under limited warming but agriculture could suffer from new pests and diseases. The warmer climate could aggravate the problems of water quality in the Baltic Sea. Permafrost changes due to warming will also be of particular concern for soils.

Atlantic North

Temperature increases by 2080 are expected to be moderate at 1.5 - 2.5 °C, while total annual rainfall is expected to decrease slightly in the summer, but with an increased risk of flooding in winter (Reynard et al., 2001). There will be potential for increasing yields of forage crops due to longer growing seasons and for increasing the area sown to barley and potatoes (Holden et al., 2003). Impacts on crop yields due to warming may vary according to crop type but new pests and diseases may be introduced.

Atlantic Central

Temperature increases of 2.5 to 4 °C are forecast. Precipitation is expected to decrease in total, but with increased proportion of rainfall falling over winter. This greater intensity of winter precipitation and warmer temperatures are expected to increase the frequency of storms and flooding, especially as in this zone there are the confluences of several large rivers. Summers are projected to become dryer and hotter. The longer growing season is forecast to increase yields of wheat. There is also likely to be an increase in the northern range over which crops such as soya and sunflowers may be grown. The greatest problem to be faced by agriculture in this zone may be rising sea level which may affect low-lying land in eastern England and the North Sea coasts of Belgium, the Netherlands and Germany, some of the most productive agricultural areas in those countries. Reduced water resources during summer may lead to conflicting demands between agriculture and other users.

Atlantic South

Temperature increases of 3 to 4 °C are forecast, while yearly rainfall is expected to decrease, especially in the southern part of the zone. Water resources may be a problem leading to conflict with other users. A greater risk of forest fires has been identified in this area, and this may have impacts on adjacent areas of permanent crops. Despite the decrease on total water availability, winter flooding is predicted to increase (De Cunha et al., 2002). Crop yields are predicted to decrease by c. 14%.

Continental North

Annual mean temperature increases are forecast to be in the order of 3 to 4 °C. Total annual rainfall is expected to increase, with precipitation increases in the winter while reduction in summer could occur in several areas. The increased rainfall is predicted to lead to a greater number of intense rainfall events and to increase the risk of flooding, which may be particularly severe as this area has large areas of low-lying land vulnerable to flooding from rivers. A warmer climate may lead to an increase in the northern range over which crops such as soya, sunflowers may be grown and potential increases in yield from the longer growing season.

Continental South

Significant temperature increases of 3 to 5 °C are forecast, while total annual rainfall is expected to decrease. Reduced precipitation is predicted to reduce yields of wheat and maize. However, yields of crops with a greater requirement for heat are forecast to increase. Reduced precipitation and the encroachment of agriculture are expected to lead to a reduction in the area of wetlands. Extreme weather events may increase in frequency.


Increases in extreme weather events will affect vulnerable mountain areas while any intensification of the hydrological cycle is likely to increase erosion, floods, and glacier retreat. An accelerated rate of glacier retreat has been observed in the last decade. This zone is vulnerable to accelerated permafrost thaw, which may lead to destabilization of soils and landslides. Increased temperatures are forecast to decrease the depth of snow cover and reduce biodiversity. The distribution of land use will change due as the distribution of species in mountainous areas may shift upwards.

Mediterranean North

Decreases in crop yields up to 40% under current management conditions are forecast for much of this zone. In addition yield variability is also forecast to increase. A decrease in water availability is predicted together with an increase in water demand. Decreasing water resources in some areas may affect soil structure while reduced soil drainage may lead to increased salinity. However, an increase in frequency and intensity of floods is predicted in some areas where significant winter rainfall is likely. These changes are expected to reduce the diversity of Mediterranean species.

Mediterranean South

Decreases in crop yields are also forecast for this zone, together with greater yield variability. A significant reduction in water availability is predicted together with an increase in water demand, leading to potential conflict between users. Decreasing water resources are likely to damage soil structure while reduced soil drainage may lead to increased salinity. These changes are expected to reduce the diversity of Mediterranean species.

Table 1 summarises the climate change impacts by agro-climatic region (Iglesias et al., 2009).

Table 1 Climate change impacts on agro-climatic zones in Europe. Source: Iglesias et al., 2009.

Agro-climatic area

Impact described and direction of change


  • Increase in crop suitability.

  • Positive relationship between yield and temperature.

  • Permafrost thaw. Destabilization of soils, landslides, negative effects on forests.

  • Changes in population distributions of terrestrial ecosystems, biodiversity loss.

  • Increase in pest populations and distribution with increased temperature.

  • Increased weather extremes and susceptibility of forest to extremes and pests.

  • Glaciers retreat with increased CO2 and temperature.

  • Increase in pest populations in boreal forests insects and distribution with increased temperature.

  • Decrease in productivity of short rotation forests.


  • Accelerated rate of glacier mass loss, secondary impacts on economy

  • Definition of agro-climatic regions, observed changes in distribution of barley and potato.

  • Decreased available water resources. Increased floods.

  • Increased frequency and intensity of forest fires.

  • Increased wheat yield with higher temperatures.

  • Changes in health, nutrition, productivity of livestock.

  • Land use change, ecosystem disturbances and fragmented populations.

  • Increased flood frequency.

  • Soil erosion


  • Increased rate of melting of snow

  • Decrease in precipitation leading to reduced yields of wheat

  • Increase in frequency and intensity of floods.

  • Glacier retreat and snow depth decrease.

  • Disappearance of wetlands, encroachment of agriculture.

  • Modification of forest structure and functions, decreased productivity.

  • Intensification of hydrological cycles, more extreme events, need for management.

  • Increase in crop production with increasing temperature, pests too.

  • Increase in yields of soybean especially in mineral soil.

  • Changes in crop productivity and distributions.

  • Increased frequency of extreme floods and droughts events.

  • Increased frequency and intensity of flash floods in the summer.

  • Increased mortality of trees.

  • Decrease in runoff of up to 50% in mountain areas.

  • Snow cover early-melting.


  • Snow melt increase Intensification of hydrological cycle (increased erosion, floods and glacier retreat).

  • Increase in extreme climate events affecting vulnerable areas like mountains.

  • General increase, greater differences between day and night temperatures.

  • Increased speed of snow melt Secondary effects of glacier retreat on tourism economy.

  • Distribution of species in mountainous areas may shift upwards.

  • Accelerated permafrost thaw, destabilization of soils, landslides.

  • Observations of decreased snow depth, with differences among regions.

  • Higher than average temperature increase. Decrease of snow cover depth and loss of biodiversity

  • Accelerated rate of glacier mass loss in the last decade.

  • Observed changes in the inventory of biodiversity and species distribution.

  • Vegetation is quite stable but land use change is highly possible.

  • Distribution of pasture land use will change due to changing conditions


  • Increase in frequency and intensity of floods.

  • Decrease in maize yields.

  • General increase grapevine in yields.

  • Decrease of yields up to 40% under current management conditions.

  • General decrease in yields and increase in irrigation requirements.

  • Crop yields variations

  • Increased variability of yields and associated risk.

  • Decrease in water availability and increase in water demand.

  • Decreased productivity, changes in distribution.

  • Reduced diversity of seedlings Loss of diversity in Mediterranean species.

  • Changes in drainage of soils leading to increased salinity.

  • Desertification Water resources deficit, affected soil structure.

    1. Synthesis of main impacts

Here we summarise the climate factors and determinants of change in agriculture, the expected direction of change and the potential consequences for agriculture and water for agriculture. The primary drivers include changes in atmospheric CO2, O3, sea level rise, extreme events, precipitation and average temperature and heat stress, as discussed below. Table 2 summarises the impacts on agriculture and water for agriculture derived from the changes in the main drivers.

Increase in atmospheric CO2

  • The result is an increased biomass production and increased potential efficiency of physiological water use in crops and weeds.

  • Modified hydrologic balance of soils due to C/N ratio modification. Changed weed ecology with potential for increased weed competition with crops. Agro-ecosystems modification. N cycle modification. Lower yield increase than expected

Increase atmospheric O3

  • Crop yield decrease

Increase temperature

  • Increase differences in day-night temperature. Modifications in crop suitability and productivity. Changes in weeds, crop pests and diseases. Changes in water requirements. Changes in crop quality. Modifications in crop productivity and quality

  • Increases in heat waves. Damage to grain formation, increase in some pests

Changes in the hydrological cycle

  • Increased temporal and spatial variability of floods and droughts Crop failure. Yield decrease. Competition for water

  • Intensified hydrological cycle Changed patterns of erosion and accretion. Changed storm impacts. Changed occurrence of storm flooding and storm damage

  • Increased water logging. Increased pest damage. Decrease in water resources availability, increase in demand

Sea level rise

  • Sea level intrusion in coastal agricultural areas and salinization of water supply

Table 2 Climate change impacts that determine risks and opportunities to agricultural production at the global or European wide scale. Source: Iglesias et al., 2009

Climate change impact


Europe or global scale studies

Changes in agricultural optimal zones and agroecosystems due to changes in optimal farming conditions

Antle et al., 2004; Darwin, 2004; Ewer et al., 2005; Fischer et al., 2005a; Lansigan et al., 1997; Metzger et al., 2006; Olesen et al., 2002; Rosato et al., 2003; Rousevell et al., 2005, 2006

Changes in crop productivity and quality

Agrell et al., 2004; Allard et al. 2003, 2004; Arnell et al., 2002; Carbone et al., 2003; Challinor et al., 2007; Chen et al., 2005; Daepp et al., 2001; Darwin, 2004; Döös et al., 1999; Edwards et al., 2001; Ehleringer et al., 2002; Ewert et al., 2007; Fuhrer et al., 2003; Gill et al., 2002; Gregory et al., 2005; Jablonski et al., 2002; Kimball et al., 2002; Milchunas et al., 2005; Newman et al., 2001; Nowak et al., 2004; Ollinger et al., 2002; Parry et al., 2001, 2004; Peng et al., 2004; Picon-Cochard et al., 2004; Rosenzweig et al., 2001, 2005, 2008; Rotter et al., 1999 ; Shaw et al., 2002; Stacey et al., 2002; Teyssonneyre et al., 2002; Thomas et al., 2003; Tubiello et al., 2000, 2002; Wullschleger et al., 2002; Zhao et al., 2003; Zvereva et al 2006; Ashmore 2005; Fiscus et al., 2005; Caldwell et al., 2005; Dhakhwa et al., 1998; Volder et al., 2004; Mearns et al., 1996; Beniston 2004 ; Schar et al., 2004; Wheeler et al., 2000

Increased risk of agricultural pests, diseases, weeds

Biodiversity loss

Chakraborty et al., 2003; Chen et al., 2001, 2005a, 2005b; Cocu et al., 2005; Crozier et al., 2006; Easterling et al., 2001, 2003; Gan, 2004; Hannah et al., 2002; Iglesias et al., 2002; Patterson et al., 1999; Runion, 2003; Tamis et al., 2001; Todd et al., 2002

Increased risk of extreme events

Arnell 1999; Bradford 2000; Burke et al., 2006; COPA-COGECA 2003; Hanson et al., 2000; Hisdal et al., 2001; Martinez et al., 2003; Motha et al., 2005; Reichstein et al., 2002; Rosenzweig et al., 2001; Vogt et al., 2000

Changes in water availability, permafrost, need of irrigation

Alcamo et al., 2003, 2007, 2008; Arnell, 1999, 2004; Boorman et al., 1997; Döll 2002; Eckhardt et al., 2003; Fisher et al., 2005; Gleick, 2003; Mimikou et al., 2000; Rosenzweig et al., 2005; Vorosmarty et al., 2000

Deterioration of water and soil quality, desertification

Laporte et al., 2002; Rounsevell et al., 1999, 2005a, 2005b, 2006; Yeo, 1998

Sea level intrusion

Nicholls et al., 2004;

Changes in livestock productivity

Frank et al., 2001; Mitchell et al., 2001

Improvement of energy efficiency in glasshouses

Due to increase in temperautre in the climate change scenarios

Changes in land use

A shift in the location of optimal conditions for specific crop or livestock production systems may lead to a loss of rural income and soil deterioration in the areas where those modes of production can no longer be maintained. Such losses of established farming practices may lead to a loss of cultural heritage, land abandonment and increased risk of desertification. There is a high risk of these problems occurring during the 21st century.

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