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Exposure, vulnerability, and adaptation of major maize-growing areas to extreme temperature

Abstract

Driven by increasing demand for food and industrial consumption, world’s maize supply is under stress. Besides, the extreme temperature events are now exposing more threat to maize yield with ongoing climate change. Thus, a comprehensive analysis on maize exposure (exposure is defined as the cultivated area which is exposed to extreme temperature stress), vulnerability (here it means how much yield losses with each temperature increase/decrease at a national scale), and adaptation to extreme temperature is essential to better understand the effects on global maize production, especially in major production countries. It was found that warming trends during the growing season have extensively dominated the main maize-growing areas across the globe. And along with this mean temperature trend was the increasing heat stress and decreasing cold stress among most regions. Moreover, from 1981 to 2011, maize yield losses caused by heat stress in China, India, and the USA were 1.13, 0.64 and 1.12% per decade, respectively, while Mexico has been experiencing a reduction of yield loss due to decreased cold stress of 0.53% per decade. Furthermore, during the period of 2021–2051, the extreme heat stress would increase substantially, while the low temperature was estimated to drop slightly during the growing seasons. Such pattern had also been found over the key reproductive stage of maize. Accordingly, through the sensitivity test of two adaption measures, improved high-temperature-tolerant varieties and changing maize calendar earlier could both mitigate extreme meteorological stress on maize, while the former method would be the most effective way to do so. Our study could provide a paradigm for other crops and other countries in the world to analyze their exposure and vulnerability to the temperature stress and make corresponding adaptation measures.

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Acknowledgements

This study was funded by National Key Technologies R&D Program (2017YFD0300301) and National Basic Research Program of China (41571493, 41571088, 31561143003).

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Correspondence to Zhao Zhang.

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Zhang, L., Zhang, Z., Chen, Y. et al. Exposure, vulnerability, and adaptation of major maize-growing areas to extreme temperature. Nat Hazards 91, 1257–1272 (2018). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11069-018-3181-7

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  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/s11069-018-3181-7

Keywords

  • Exposure
  • Vulnerability
  • Adaptation
  • Maize
  • Yield
  • Global warming