Theoretical and Applied Climatology

, Volume 133, Issue 3–4, pp 1107–1118 | Cite as

Multi-model ensemble projections of future extreme heat stress on rice across southern China

  • Liang HeEmail author
  • James Cleverly
  • Bin Wang
  • Ning Jin
  • Chunrong Mi
  • De Li Liu
  • Qiang Yu
Original Paper


Extreme heat events have become more frequent and intense with climate warming, and these heatwaves are a threat to rice production in southern China. Projected changes in heat stress in rice provide an assessment of the potential impact on crop production and can direct measures for adaptation to climate change. In this study, we calculated heat stress indices using statistical scaling techniques, which can efficiently downscale output from general circulation models (GCMs). Data across the rice belt in southern China were obtained from 28 GCMs in the Coupled Model Intercomparison Project phase 5 (CMIP5) with two emissions scenarios (RCP4.5 for current emissions and RCP8.5 for increasing emissions). Multi-model ensemble projections over the historical period (1960–2010) reproduced the trend of observations in heat stress indices (root-mean-square error RMSE = 6.5 days) better than multi-model arithmetic mean (RMSE 8.9 days) and any individual GCM (RMSE 11.4 days). The frequency of heat stress events was projected to increase by 2061–2100 in both scenarios (up to 185 and 319% for RCP4.5 and RCP8.5, respectively), especially in the middle and lower reaches of the Yangtze River. This increasing risk of exposure to heat stress above 30 °C during flowering and grain filling is predicted to impact rice production. The results of our study suggest the importance of specific adaption or mitigation strategies, such as selection of heat-tolerant cultivars and adjustment of planting date in a warmer future world.



This study was supported by the Talent Project Plan (Thousand Talents Program) in Northwest A&F University, Special Fund for Public Welfare Industry (Meteorology, No.GYHY201506001), and National Natural Science Foundation of China (No. 41371119).


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Austria 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  • Liang He
    • 1
    Email author
  • James Cleverly
    • 2
  • Bin Wang
    • 3
  • Ning Jin
    • 4
  • Chunrong Mi
    • 5
  • De Li Liu
    • 3
  • Qiang Yu
    • 2
    • 4
    • 6
  1. 1.National Meteorological CenterBeijingChina
  2. 2.School of Life SciencesUniversity of Technology SydneySydneyAustralia
  3. 3.NSW Department of Primary IndustriesWagga Wagga Agricultural InstituteWagga WaggaAustralia
  4. 4.State Key Laboratory of Soil Erosion and Dryland Farming on the Loess PlateauNorthwest A&F UniversityYanglingChina
  5. 5.Key Laboratory of Water Cycle and Related Land Surface ProcessesInstitute of Geographic Sciences and Natural Resources ResearchBeijingChina
  6. 6.College of Resources and EnvironmentUniversity of Chinese Academy of ScienceBeijingChina

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