J67.2 Does the Madden–Julian Oscillation Affect Crop Yields?

Thursday, 16 January 2020: 1:45 PM
154 (Boston Convention and Exhibition Center)
Weston Anderson, IRI, Palisades, NY; and E. Han, W. Baethgen, Á. Muñoz, L. Goddard, and A. W. Robertson

Understanding what causes abiotic stresses that lead to crop failures is a critical step towards producing early warning systems for crop failures. While there are many sources of abiotic stresses, the Madden-Julian Oscillation (MJO) is the dominant source of subseasonal climate variability in the tropics, making it a potential – but as of yet unexplored – source of crop failures. Here, for the first time, we use daily precipitation, maximum temperature, and soil moisture data, as well as crop models and observational yield statistics to assess whether the MJO affects crop yields.

We find that MJO events can lead to simultaneous drought and heat stress during maize flowering seasons, which is particularly damaging to crops because without available soil water plants are unable to transpire to cool leaf-level temperatures as a means of avoiding long-term heat-stress damage. As a result, even though teleconnections from the MJO may last only a few days to a week, they affect modeled maize yields in Mexico and Central America, Northeast Brazil, West Africa, the East African Highlands, and India. MJO yield teleconnections are detectable in observational statistics as well, and are consistent with existing literature on MJO climate teleconnections. Identifying how and where the MJO affects tropical agriculture can inform the targeted use of subseasonal to seasonal (S2S) forecasts

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