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Shifts in the extent and location of rice cropping areas match the climate change pattern in China during 1980–2010

Abstract

Knowledge of cropping areas and climate change is crucial to understanding the causes and consequences of global land use change, and the response of rice areas to climate change is a hot topic to global food security. This study investigates the impacts of climate change on suitable areas for rice cultivation and how the actual cultivated area of rice has been altered in response to climate change during the past three decades. To understand whether the shifts in the extent and location of rice cropping areas match the pattern of climate change, the yearly climate data from 726 weather stations and the rice census data from 2,343 counties were employed to simulate the climatically suitable region for rice using the MaxEnt species distribution model, as well as to model the actual geographical distribution of rice using the spatial allocation production model in each decade. The results show that approximately 3.9 % of all Chinese land area (roughly 3.7 × 107 ha) has become suitable for rice due to climate change over the past three decades, representing new potential areas for rice cultivation. Meanwhile, the actual rice cropping area has increased by approximately 18.2 %, indicating that the extent and location of the rice expansion match the pattern of climate change. However, some spatial inconsistencies did exist between the actual rice area’s expansion and the climatically suitable region after 1990. Nevertheless, climate change was a possible factor impacting the geospatial and temporal changes of the actual rice cropping area in China.

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Acknowledgments

We are grateful for the financial support for our initial and ongoing research from the National Natural Science Foundation of China (Grant Nos. 41171328, and 41201184) and the National Basic Research Program of China (973 Program) (Grant No. 2010CB951502).

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Correspondence to Zhengguo Li.

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Editor: Wolfgang Cramer.

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Liu, Z., Yang, P., Tang, H. et al. Shifts in the extent and location of rice cropping areas match the climate change pattern in China during 1980–2010. Reg Environ Change 15, 919–929 (2015). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10113-014-0677-x

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Keywords

  • Climate change pattern
  • Rice suitability area
  • Actual rice cropping area
  • China