Conclusions

Weather is a most significant factor determining plant growth and productivity. The IPCC estimates that under the business-as-usual scenario global mean temperatures will increase by 0.2°C per decade (Houghton et al, 1996). Such a temperature rise, and concurrent changes in other weather variables such as rainfall and radiation, might alter the crop yield potentials by changing the degree of high-temperature stress or frost-free period, the degree of growth

Fig. 9.15. Changes in simulated potato tuber yields in UK from baseline under (a) the HCGG and (b) the HCGS climatic change scenarios. (See legend to Fig. 9.10.)

reduction by water shortage or nutrient deficiency, and the risk for yield losses by hail, diseases and pests. Changes in the climate may also result in an increase in climatic variability and extremes. Such changes in the climate will affect growth and production of tuber and root crops, but the possible impact of climatic change has not yet been studied for most species of this crop group. Increased [CO2] may also have significant effects on crop phenology, productivity and physiology. Unfortunately, potential interactions among effects of increased [CO2] on growth and yield and those of changes in climatic variables such as temperature and solar radiation are complex. Because of this complexity, there is not enough information to draw exhaustive conclusions about the potential impact of climatic change on the productivity of root and tuber crops. The effects of climatic change on world agriculture remain uncertain because of ignorance of responses of plant and soil processes to several weather variables.

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