Changes in agricultural climate in South-Eastern England from 1892 to 2016 and differences in cereal and permanent grassland yield

The long-term increasing trend of annual mean temperature is only one aspect of recent climate change. Other changes in climate, seen in within-year weather patterns relevant to crop production, have also occurred since the late-19th Century. Multivariate analysis combining Principal Components Analysis and K-means clustering applied to temporal meteorological datasets (monthly summaries of rainfall, temperature and sunlight duration at Rothamsted Research, UK, between 1892 and 2016) identified ten distinct clusters of years, each with different annual weather patterns. The frequency of occurrence of the years within each cluster altered considerably during this period, with the late 20th and early 21st Century distinctly different to earlier in the 20th Century, providing clear evidence of climate change with regard to the whole weather profile rather than just warming alone. The most-frequently represented cluster of the 21st Century to date had warmer temperatures with more intense rainfall but a dry June, compared to all other clusters. Half of the clusters identified were not represented in the most-recent 25-year period. Analysis of the total biomass yield of winter wheat (Triticum aestivum L.), spring barley (Hordeum vulgare L.), and grassland amongst the different weather clusters showed that years in clusters typical of the 20th Century climate provided greater off-take than those from the early-21st Century, but this impact was less for the pasture than for the two cereal crops implying herbage production was the more resilient to the changing climate at this site.

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  • Name: Addy, John W.G., Type: Corresponding Author,
  • Name: Ellis, Richard H., Type: Author,
  • Name: Macdonald, Andy J., Type: Author,
  • Name: Semenov, Mikhail A., Type: Author,
  • Name: Mead, Andrew, Type: Author,
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DFW Organisation RRes
DFW Work Package 1
DOI 10.1016/j.agrformet.2021.108560
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Open Access Status closed