The impact of weather and increased atmospheric CO <sub>2</sub> from 1892 to 2016 on simulated yields of UK wheat

Climate change effects on UK winter wheat grain yield are complex: warmer temperature, negative; greater carbon dioxide (CO 2 ) concentration, positive; but other environmental variables and their timing also affect yield. In the absence of long-term experiments where temperature and CO 2 concentration were manipulated separately, we applied the crop simulation model Sirius with long-term daily meteorological data (1892–2016) for Rothamsted, Hertfordshire, UK (2007–2016 mean growing season temperature 1.03°C warmer than 1892–1991), and CO 2 concentration over this period, to investigate the separate effects of historic CO 2 and weather on simulated grain yield in three wheat cultivars of the modern era. We show a slight decline in simulated yield over the period 1892–2016 from the effect of weather (daily temperature, rainfall and sunshine hours) at fixed CO 2 (294.50 ppm, 1892 reference value), but a maximum 9.4% increase when accounting for increasing atmospheric CO 2 (from 294.50 to 404.21 ppm), differing slightly among cultivars. Notwithstanding considerable inter-annual variation, the slight yield decline at 294.50 ppm CO 2 over this 125-year period from the historic weather simulations for Rothamsted agrees with the expected decline from temperature increase alone, but the positive yield trend with actual CO 2 values does not match the recent stagnation in UK wheat yield.

Data and Resources

Additional Info

Field Value
  • 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,
Maintainer Email
Article Host Type publisher
Article Is Open Access true
Article License Type cc-by
Article Version Type publishedVersion
Citation Report
DFW Organisation RRes
DFW Work Package 1
DOI 10.1098/rsif.2021.0250
Date Last Updated 2022-03-06T08:42:12.494659
Evidence open (via page says license)
Funder Code(s)
Journal Is Open Access false
Open Access Status hybrid
Publisher URL