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Climate Change

In the UK, climate change is likely to affect temperatures and the annual pattern of rainfall and extreme weather is predicted to become more common. All these effects are likely to have an impact on animals and plants, including crops and the pests and diseases that affect them.

Past research

Two projects used UK climate projections (UKCP09 and UKCIP02) to predict the impact of climate change on agricultural production systems and agri-environment schemes.

Project leader: Prof Brian Thomas

  • Vulnerability of UK Agriculture to Extreme Events (Defra project AC0301). Global warming is likely to bring more variable climate with increased probability and magnitude of extreme weather events. Extreme events, such as late spring frost or windstorm, may cause crop failure. Future climate may also increase occurrence of extreme impacts on crops, e.g. weather conditions resulting in substantial reduction in yield and quality (for example severe drought or prolonged soil wetness). Our project aimed to fill the knowledge gaps relating to the occurrence of extreme events, whose frequency and spatial patterns are likely to change as a consequence of climate change, and crop production in the UK.

  • Climate change impacts and adaptation - a risk based approach (Defra project AC0310). This project identified key stages in annual production systems for target crops or livestock that may be directly or indirectly susceptible (e.g. through pest and disease pressures) to climate variation or weather extremes and assembled findings from individual models to determine overall impact and risk associated with the target systems.

Publications on impact of and adaptation to climate change in relation to crop production

Collier, R.H., Finch, S., Phelps, K. & Thompson, A.R. (1990). Possible impact of global warming on cabbage root fly (Delia radicum) activity in the UK. Annals of Applied Biology, 118, 261-271.

Collier, RosemaryFellows, J. R. (Jane R.)Adams, S. R. (Steven R.)Semenov, Mikhail and Thomas, Brian (2008) Vulnerability of horticultural crop production to extreme weather events. Aspects of Applied Biology, Vol.88 . pp. 3-14. ISSN 0265-1491.

Collier, R.H. & Else, M. (2014). UK Fruit and Vegetable Production – impacts of climate change and opportunities for adaptation. In: Climate Change Impact and Adaptation in Agricultural Systems. J. Fuhrer & P.J. Gregory (Eds). CABI Publishing, p 88-109.

Collier, R., Fellows, J., Adams, S., Semenov, M. and Thomas, B. (2008). Vulnerability of horticultural crop production to extreme weather events. Aspects of Applied Biology 88, 3 – 14.

Dixon, G.R., Collier, R.H. and Bhattacharya, I. (2014). An Assessment of the Effects of Climate Change on Horticulture. In: Horticulture: Plants for People and Places Volume 2. Dixon, G., Aldous, David E. (Eds.), Springer p 817-858.

Hemming, D. et al. (2022) Likelihood of Extreme Early Flight of Myzus persicae (Hemiptera: Aphididae) Across the UK. Journal of Economic Entomology, 115(5), 1342–1349.