Climate extremes and ozone pollution: a growing threat to china’s food security

Hanqin Tian, Wei Ren, Bo Tao, Ge Sun, Art Chappelka, Xiaoke Wang, Shufen Pan, Jia Yang, Jiyuan Liu, Ben S. felzer, Jerry M. melillo, John Reilly

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

47 Scopus citations


Ensuring global food security requires a sound understanding of climate and environmental controls on crop productivity. The majority of existing assessments have focused on physical climate variables (i.e., mean temperature and precipitation), but less on the increasing climate extremes (e.g., drought) and their interactions with increasing levels of tropospheric ozone (O3). Here we quantify the combined impacts of drought and O3 on China's crop yield using a comprehensive, process-based agricultural ecosystem model in conjunction with observational data. Our results indicate that climate change/variability and O3 together led to an annual mean reduction of crop yield by 10.0% or 55 million tons per year at the national level during 1981–2010. Crop yield shows a growing threat from severe episodic droughts and increasing O3 concentrations since 2000, with the largest crop yield losses occurring in northern China, causing serious concerns in food supply security in China. Our results imply that reducing tropospheric O3 levels is critical for securing crop production in coping with increasing frequency and severity of extreme climate events such as droughts. Improving air quality should be a core component of climate adaptation strategies.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere01203
JournalEcosystem Health and Sustainability
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1 2016

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This study has been supported by NASA (NNG04GM39C; NNX08AL73G), NSF (1137306), Chinese Academy of Sciences (KFJ-EW-STS-002), the National Basic Research Program of China (No. 2010CB950900; No. 2002CB412500), the U.S. Department of Energy (DE-FG02-94ER61937), the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (XA-83600001-1), and a grant from the David and Lucile Packard Foundation. We thank other members in the EDGE Laboratory at Auburn University for their contribution in developing the DLEM model and input data. We also thank Vicente-Serrano for providing data on SPEI drought index and related references, and two anonymous reviewers for their constructive comments.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2016, © 2016 Tian et al.


  • China food security
  • climate change
  • crop yield
  • drought
  • tropospheric ozone (O)

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Ecology
  • Management, Monitoring, Policy and Law


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