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Investigating the Impacts of Climate Change on Chinese Agriculture

This report, published in English and Chinese by the UK Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA), is the result of a 30-month project exploring how climate change is affecting agriculture in China.

The project involved numerous participating research institutions from China and the United Kingdom, and a steering committee including representatives from both countries' government ministries.

A regional climate model, PRECIS, was used to develop climate change scenarios for four crops in China: maize, wheat, rice and cotton. Based on these scenarios, the effects of an increase in temperature of three to four degrees Celsius can be predicted.

The results suggest that maize, rice and wheat fields that are not fertilised by spraying them with carbon dioxide could be 37 per cent less productive as a result of climate warming.

And while cotton yields are generally expected to increase in a warming environment and with higher levels of carbon dioxide, the level of increase is uncertain and also affected by other factors, such as water and nutrient availability.

 This is an interesting and accessible example of a collaborative assessment of climatic impacts in a specific region of the world. The project also produced national scenarios of socio-economic development in relation to Chinese agriculture, which will be valuable for the sector in the long term.

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