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Location: Soil, Water & Air Resources Research

Title: How do various maize crop models vary in their responses to climate change factors?

item Bassu, Simona
item Brisson, Nadine
item Durand, Jean-louis
item Boote, Kenneth
item Lizaso, Jon
item Jones, James
item Rosenzweig, Cynthia
item Ruane, Alex
item Adam, Myrian
item Baron, Christian
item Basso, Bruno
item Biernath, Christian
item Boogaard, Hendrik
item Conijn, Sjaak
item Corbeels, Marc
item Deryng, Delphine
item De Sanctis, Giacomo
item Gayler, Sebastian
item Grassini, Patricio
item Hatfield, Jerry
item Hoek, Steven
item Izaurralde, Cesar
item Jongschaap, Raymond
item Kemanian, Armen
item Kersebaum, Christian
item Kumar, Naresh
item Makowski, David
item Muller, Christoph
item Nendel, Claas
item Priesack, Eckart
item Pravia, Maria
item Soo, Hyung
item Sau, Federico
item Shcherbak, Iurii
item Tao, Fulu
item Teixeira, Edmar
item Timlin, Dennis
item Waha, Katharina

Submitted to: Global Change Biology
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 4/18/2014
Publication Date: 5/9/2014
Publication URL:
Citation: Bassu, S., Brisson, N., Durand, J., Boote, K., Lizaso, J., Jones, J.W., Rosenzweig, C., Ruane, A.C., Adam, M., Baron, C., Basso, B., Biernath, C., Boogaard, H., Conijn, S., Corbeels, M., Deryng, D., De Sanctis, G., Gayler, S., Grassini, P., Hatfield, J.L., Hoek, S., Izaurralde, C., Jongschaap, R., Kemanian, A., Kersebaum, C., Kumar, N., Makowski, D., Muller, C., Nendel, C., Priesack, E., Pravia, M.V., Soo, H.K., Sau, F., Shcherbak, I., Tao, F., Teixeira, E., Timlin, D.J., Waha, K. 2014. How do various maize crop models vary in their responses to climate change factors? Global Change Biology. 20:2301-2320.

Interpretive Summary: Understanding the impact of climate change on future global crop production is critical for the assessment of potential adaptation strategies. There are numerous crop models for the prediction of maize growth and yield; however, these models have not been evaluated against common data sets and this project was designed to evaluate the available 23 maize models. The inter-comparisons were conducted by a team of international investigators using observed weather and maize growth and yield data from four locations around the world. Individual models varied in their ability to predict yields; however, the ensemble of models predicted the absolute yields with a great deal of certainty. An evaluation of temperature effects showed a greater impact on maize yield than increasing carbon dioxide with an estimate of a decrease in grain yield of 8 bushels per acre for each 1.5 F temperature increase. To estimate the impact of future climate on maize production requires improved simulation models capable of incorporating the effects of a changing climate and these results suggest an ensemble of models may be required to achieve this goal. This information is of value for the agronomic and climate research community and policymakers dealing with climate assessments and future crop production.

Technical Abstract: Potential consequences of climate change on crop production can be studied using mechanistic crop simulation models. While a broad variety of maize simulation models exist, it is not known whether different models give similar grain yield responses to changes in climatic factors, or whether they agree in their general trends related to phenology, growth and yield. With the goal of analyzing the sensitivity of simulated yields to changes in temperature and atmospheric carbon dioxide concentrations [CO2], we present the largest maize crop model inter-comparison to date, including 23 different models. These models were evaluated for four locations representing a wide range of maize production conditions in the world: Lusignan (France), Ames (USA), Rio Verde (Brazil) and Morogoro (Tanzania). Temperature increase had a much larger influence on modeled yield response than did increased [CO2] and caused overall decrease of yield of roughly 0.5 Mg per °C. Doubling [CO2] from 360 to 720 µmol mol-1 increased grain yield by 7.5% on average across models and the sites. There was a large uncertainty in the response to [CO2] among models. Model responses to temperature and [CO2] factors did not differ whether models were simulated with low calibration information or simulated with high level of calibration information. While individual models differed considerably in absolute yield simulation at the four sites, the ensemble of the models was able to simulate absolute yields accurately at the four sites even with low data for calibration, thus suggesting that using an ensemble of models has merit. The ensemble response to temperature and [CO2] was not dependent on the level of calibration information.