Skip to main content
ARS Home » Pacific West Area » Maricopa, Arizona » U.S. Arid Land Agricultural Research Center » Plant Physiology and Genetics Research » Research » Publications at this Location » Publication #339847

Research Project: Strengthening the Analysis Framework of G x E x M under Climate Uncertainty

Location: Plant Physiology and Genetics Research

Title: Physical robustness of canopy temperature models for crop heat stress simulation across environments and production conditions

item WEBER, HEIDI - University Of Bonn
item White, Jeffrey
item Kimball, Bruce
item EWERT, FRANK - Leibniz Centre
item ASSENG, SENTHOLD - University Of Florida
item REXAEI, ESHAN - University Of Bonn
item PINTER, PAUL - Retired Non ARS Employee
item Hatfield, Jerry
item BINDI, MARCO - University Of Florence
item DOLTRA, JORDI - Center For Agricultural Research And Training, Cantabria Government (CIFA)
item FERRISE, ROBERTO - University Of Florence
item KASSIE, BALAY - University Of Florida
item KAGE, HENNING - University Of Kiel
item LUIG, ADAM - University Of Kiel
item OLESEON, JORGEN - Aarhus University
item SEMENOV, MIKHAIL - Rothamsted Research
item STRATONOVITCH, PIERRE - Rothamsted Research
item RATJEN, ARNE - University Of Kiel
item LAMORTE, ROBERT - US Department Of Agriculture (USDA)
item LEAVITT, STEEN - University Of Arizona
item Hunsaker, Douglas - Doug
item Wall, Gerard - Gary
item MARTRE, PIERRE - Institut National De La Recherche Agronomique (INRA)

Submitted to: Field Crops Research
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 11/7/2017
Publication Date: 2/15/2018
Publication URL:
Citation: Weber, H., White, J.W., Kimball, B.A., Ewert, F., Asseng, S., Rexaei, E.E., Pinter, P.J., Hatfield, J.L., Bindi, M., Doltra, J., Ferrise, R., Kassie, B., Kage, H., Kersebaum, K., Luig, A., Oleseon, J.E., Semenov, M.A., Stratonovitch, P., Ratjen, A., Lamorte, R.L., Leavitt, S.W., Hunsaker, D.J., Wall, G.W., Martre, P. 2018. Physical robustness of canopy temperature models for crop heat stress simulation across environments and production conditions. Field Crops Research. 216:75-88.

Interpretive Summary: The risk of crops failing due to heat stress may increase if future temperatures exceed thresholds for critical events in crop development such as during pollination, fertilization or seed formation. Despite widespread application in studies of climate uncertainty impacts on crops, most computer models of crop growth use air temperature to estimate impacts of heat stress, ignoring the complex ways that air temperature, crop water status, CO2 concentration and atmospheric conditions interact to influence the crop canopy temperature (Tc). The current study evaluated nine crop models, each implementing one of three approaches for estimating Tc. Model skill was evaluated for two experiments with wheat. The China Wheat experiment was conducted over two years at five North American locations and included rainfed and irrigated treatments. The FACE-Maricopa experiment was conducted over four years with ambient and elevated CO2, and two years each of nitrogen and water stress treatments. Across experiments and conditions, the models using the most complex approach (energy balance with consideration of atmospheric stability) for estimating Tc showed the best performance in simulating differences between Tc and air temperature (delta-T). For the FACE-Maricopa data, the portion of variation in observed delta-T explained by modeled values of delta-T was 34% with the most complex approach vs. 19% and 20% with the simpler approaches. For the China Wheat experiment, the portion of variation in observed delta-T was 34% for the complex approach vs. 20 and 7% for the others. There was no consistent relation between Tc model approach and the ability to simulate response to CO2 concentration. This model comparison shows that the more complex approach is required for accurate estimation of canopy temperature and hence is preferred for research on potential impacts of heat stress. These findings should ultimately contribute to improved management and breeding options for regions affected by heat stress.

Technical Abstract: Despite widespread application in studying climate change impacts, most crop models ignore complex interactions among air temperature, crop and soil water status, CO2 concentration and atmospheric conditions that influence crop canopy temperature. The current study extended previous studies by evaluating Tc simulations from nine crop models at six locations across environmental and production conditions. Each crop model implemented one of an empirical (EMP), an energy balance assuming neutral stability (EBN) or an energy balance correcting for atmospheric stability conditions (EBSC) approach to simulate Tc. Model performance in predicting Tc was evaluated for two experiments in continental North America with various water, nitrogen and CO2 treatments. An empirical model fit to one dataset had the best performance, followed by the EBSC models. Stability conditions explained much of the differences between modeling approaches. More accurate simulation of heat stress will likely require use of energy balance approaches that consider atmospheric stability conditions.