Climate variability and climate change: Implications for agriculture Academic Article uri icon


  • Crop yield variability is a defining characteristic of agriculture. Variations in yield and production are strongly influenced by fluctuations in weather. Concern has been expressed about the consequences of the buildup of greenhouse gases (GHGs) in the atmosphere on long-term climate patterns, including the frequency of extreme events, and the subsequent effect on crop yields and yield variability. In this chapter we present background on the variability issue, including a review of the physical and human dimensions of climate change as related to agricultural production. We also present the results of two recent studies; the first focuses on the effects of climatic variability on yields and the second on the effects of increases in extreme weather events on agriculture. The first study shows that temperature and precipitation changes affect both the mean and variances of crop yields, usually in opposite ways, e.g. under increasing temperatures, corn yields decrease and yield variance increases, while increases in precipitation increase corn yields and reduce variability. In the second study, increases in the frequency and strength of one type of extreme event, the El Nio-Southern Oscillation or ENSO, results in economica damages to agriculture. These damages can be averted by using forecasts of such events in agricultural planting decisions. 2001.

published proceedings

  • Advances in the Economics of Environmental Resources

author list (cited authors)

  • Adams, R. M., Chen, C. C., McCarl, B. A., & Schimmelpfennig, D. E.

citation count

  • 7

complete list of authors

  • Adams, Richard M||Chen, CC||McCarl, Bruce A||Schimmelpfennig, David E

publication date

  • March 2001