Temperature and precipitation effects on wheat yield across a European transect: A crop model ensemble analysis using impact response surfaces

N. Pirttioja, T. R. Carter, S. Fronzek, M. Bindi, H. Hoffmann, T. Palosuo, M. Ruiz-Ramos, F. Tao, M. Trnka, M. Acutis, S. Asseng, P. Baranowski, B. Basso, P. Bodin, S. Buis, D. Cammarano, P. Deligios, M. F. Destain, B. Dumont, F. EwertR. Ferrise, L. François, T. Gaiser, P. Hlavinka, I. Jacquemin, K. C. Kersebaum, C. Kollas, J. Krzyszczak, I. J. Lorite, J. Minet, M. I. Minguez, M. Montesino, M. Moriondo, C. Müller, C. Nendel, I. Öztürk, A. Perego, A. Rodríguez, A. C. Ruane, F. Ruget, M. Sanna, M. A. Semenov, C. Slawinski, P. Stratonovitch, I. Supit, K. Waha, E. Wang, L. Wu, Z. Zhao, R. P. Rötter

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

136 Citations (Scopus)


This study explored the utility of the impact response surface (IRS) approach for investigating model ensemble crop yield responses under a large range of changes in climate. IRSs of spring and winter wheat Triticum aestivum yields were constructed from a 26-member ensemble of process-based crop simulation models for sites in Finland, Germany and Spain across a latitudinal transect. The sensitivity of modelled yield to systematic increments of changes in temperature (-2 to +9°C) and precipitation (-50 to +50%) was tested by modifying values of baseline (1981 to 2010) daily weather, with CO2 concentration fixed at 360 ppm. The IRS approach offers an effective method of portraying model behaviour under changing climate as well as advantages for analysing, comparing and presenting results from multi-model ensemble simulations. Though individual model behaviour occasionally departed markedly from the average, ensemble median responses across sites and crop varieties indicated that yields decline with higher temperatures and decreased precipitation and increase with higher precipitation. Across the uncertainty ranges defined for the IRSs, yields were more sensitive to temperature than precipitation changes at the Finnish site while sensitivities were mixed at the German and Spanish sites. Precipitation effects diminished under higher temperature changes. While the bivariate and multi-model characteristics of the analysis impose some limits to interpretation, the IRS approach nonetheless provides additional insights into sensitivities to inter-model and inter-annual variability. Taken together, these sensitivities may help to pinpoint processes such as heat stress, vernalisation or drought effects requiring refinement in future model development.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)87-105
Number of pages19
JournalClimate Research
Publication statusPublished - Jan 1 2015
Externally publishedYes


  • Climate
  • Crop model
  • Impact response surface
  • IRS
  • Sensitivity analysis
  • Wheat
  • Yield

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Environmental Chemistry
  • General Environmental Science
  • Atmospheric Science


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