Regional climate change impacts on agricultural crop production in Central and Eastern Europe - hotspots, regional differences and common trends.
The present study investigates regional climate change impacts on agricultural crop production in Central and Eastern Europe, including local case studies with different focuses in Austria, the Czech Republic and Slovakia. The area studied experiences a continental European climate and is characterized by strong climatic gradients, which may foster regional differences or trends in the impacts of climate change on agriculture. To study the regional aspects and variabilities of climate change impacts on agriculture, the effect of climate change on selected future agroclimatic conditions, crop yield and variability (including the effect of higher ambient CO2 concentrations) and the most important yield limiting factors, such as water availability, nitrogen balance and the infestation risks posed by selected pests were studied. In general, the results predicted significant agroclimatic changes over the entire area during the 21st century, affecting agricultural crop production through various pathways. Simulated crop yield trends confirmed past regional studies but also revealed that yield-limiting factors may change from region to region. For example, pest pressures, as demonstrated by examining two pests, are likely to increase due to warmer conditions. In general, higher potentials for cereal yield increase are seen for wetter and cooler regions (i.e. uplands) than for the drier and warmer lowlands, where yield potentials will be increasingly limited by decreasing crop water availability and heat under most scenarios. In addition, yield variability will increase during the coming decades, but this may decrease towards the end of the 21st century. The present study contributes to the interpretation of previously conducted climate change impact and adaptation studies for agriculture and may prove useful in proposing future research in this field.