Berkeley Lab

New published paper by Shuo Yu

Diverging climate response of corn yield and carbon use efficiency across the U.S.

Diverging climate response of corn yield and carbon use efficiency across the U.S.

 Yu, S., Falco, N., Patel, N., Wu, Y., & Wainwright, H. (2023)
In this paper, we developed an open-source package to analyze the overall trend and responses of both carbon use efficiency (CUE) and corn yield to climate factors for the contiguous United States. Our algorithm enables automatic retrieval of remote sensing data through the Google Earth Engine (GEE) and U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) agricultural production data at the county level through application programming interface (API).

Firstly, we integrated satellite products of net primary productivity and gross primary productivity based on the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) sensor, and climatic variables from the European Centre for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts. Secondly, we calculated CUE and commonly used climate metrics. Thirdly, we investigated the spatial heterogeneity of these variables. We applied a random forest algorithm to identify the key climate drivers of CUE and crop yield, and estimated the responses of CUE and yield to climate variability using the spatial moving window regression across the U.S.

Our results show that growing degree days (GDD) has the highest predictive power for both CUE and yield, while extreme degree days (EDD) is the least important explanatory variable. Moreover, we observed that in most areas of the U.S., yield increases or stays the same with higher GDD and precipitation. However, CUE decreases with higher GDD in the north and shows more mixed and fragmented interactions in the south. Notably, there are some exceptions where yield is negatively correlated with precipitation in the Missouri and Mississippi River Valleys. As global warming continues, we anticipate a decrease in CUE throughout the vast northern part of the country, despite the possibility of yield remaining stable or increasing.


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