May 23, 2014

Commentary - Models Agree: Climate Change Will Put Pressure on Crop Yields in Large Areas of the Developing World

By Cynthia Rosenzweig, Senior Research Scientist, NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies

This post is part of a series produced by The Chicago Council on Global Affairs, marking the occasion of its fifth Global Food Security Symposium 2014 held in Washington, DC.

The Agricultural Model Intercomparison and Improvement Project (AgMIP)’s global gridded crop model results, cited in the IPCC Fifth Assessment Report, show that crop yields without adaptation will decline in large areas of the developing world by the end of the century (see Figure 1). This crop model assessment characterized global crop model agreement for the first time, with more than 70% of the ensemble members (climate-crop model combinations) projecting yield declines in most of Africa, Latin America, and Southeast Asia (Rosenzweig et al., 2013a).

AgMIP is a global program linking the climate, crop, and economic modeling communities with cutting-edge information technology to produce improved crop and economic models and the next generation of climate-impact projections for the agricultural sector. It aims to identify world food security risks in the face of climate change and improve developed and developing countries’ adaptation capacity. AgMIP supports teams of experts in crop and economic modeling and holds topic-specific and regional conferences as well as an annual Global Workshop that bring together the agricultural modeling community to share interdisciplinary progress and advance ongoing initiatives (Rosenzweig et al., 2013b).

Learn more or join the AgMIP listserv.

Figure 1. Median yield changes (%) for RCP8.5 (2070–2099 in comparison to 1980–2010 baseline) with CO2 effects over five GCMs x seven GGCMs for rainfed maize (35 ensemble members). Hatching indicates areas where more than 70% of the ensemble members agree on the directionality of the yield change. Gray areas indicate historical areas with little to no yield capacity (Rosenzweig et al., 2013a).


Rosenzweig, C., Elliott, J., Deryng, D., Ruane, A. C., Müller, C., Arneth, A., et al. 2013a. Assessing agricultural risks of climate change in the 21st century in a global gridded crop model intercomparison. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 201222463.

Rosenzweig, C., Jones, J. W., Hatfield, J. L., Ruane, A. C., Boote, K. J., Thorburn, P., et al. 2013b. The agricultural model intercomparison and improvement project (AgMIP): protocols and pilot studies. Agricultural and Forest Meteorology, 170, 166-182.



The Global Food and Agriculture Program aims to inform the development of US policy on global agricultural development and food security by raising awareness and providing resources, information, and policy analysis to the US Administration, Congress, and interested experts and organizations.

The Global Food and Agriculture Program is housed within the Chicago Council on Global Affairs, an independent, nonpartisan organization that provides insight – and influences the public discourse – on critical global issues. The Council on Global Affairs convenes leading global voices and conducts independent research to bring clarity and offer solutions to challenges and opportunities across the globe. The Council is committed to engaging the public and raising global awareness of issues that transcend borders and transform how people, business, and governments engage the world.

Support for the Global Food and Agriculture Program is generously provided by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.


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