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Potential impact of climate change on selected agricultural crops in north-eastern Austria


Correspondence:V. Alexandrov, fax +359 2 988 44 94, e-mail


The vulnerability and adaptation of major agricultural crops to various soils in north-eastern Austria under a changing climate were investigated. The CERES crop model for winter wheat and the CROPGRO model for soybean were validated for the agrometeorological conditions in the selected region. The simulated winter wheat and soybean yields in most cases agreed with the measured data. Several incremental and transient global circulation model (GCM) climate change scenarios were created and used in the study. In these scenarios, annual temperatures in the selected region are expected to rise between 0.9 and 4.8 °C from the 2020s to the 2080s. The results show that warming will decrease the crop-growing duration of the selected crops. For winter wheat, a gradual increase in air temperature resulted in a yield decrease. Incremental warming, especially in combination with an increase in precipitation, leads to higher soybean yield. A drier climate will reduce soybean yield, especially on soils with low water storage capacity. All transient GCM climate change scenarios for the 21st century, including the adjustment for only air temperature, precipitation and solar radiation, projected reductions of winter wheat yield. However, when the direct effect of increased levels of CO2 concentration was assumed, all GCM climate change scenarios projected an increase in winter wheat yield in the region. The increase in simulated soybean yield for the 21st century was primarily because of the positive impact of warming and especially of the beneficial influence of the direct CO2 effect. Changes in climate variability were found to affect winter wheat and soybean yield in various ways. Results from the adaptation assessments suggest that changes in sowing date, winter wheat and soybean cultivar selection could significantly affect crop production in the 21st century.

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