News Release

Timing of precipitation pattern change

Peer-Reviewed Publication

Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences

Time of Emergence of Annual Precipitation for Climate Simulations Forced by the RCP8.5 High Emission

image: Time of emergence (year) of annual precipitation for climate simulations forced by the RCP8.5 high emission scenarios. Red color scale used for regions with precipitation decrease. Blue color scale used for regions with precipitation increase. Stippling indicates climatological dry areas (below 50mm/yr). view more 

Credit: Image courtesy of Maisa Rojas.

Researchers report projections of the location and timing of changes in precipitation relevant to agricultural crop production. Climate change is expected to affect precipitation patterns in regions throughout the world, albeit with differing effects in different regions. Such precipitation changes are of concern in agricultural areas, where precipitation declines could lead to declines in crop productivity. Maisa Rojas, Andrew Challinor, and colleagues used ensembles of multiple climate models to identify regions subject to precipitation changes and estimate the time when such climate change effects may emerge from natural variation. The authors also correlated the results with agricultural growing seasons of four major crops to assess the impacts on grain production. The models suggested that patterns of increased precipitation in high latitudes, including areas in North America and Europe, could emerge as early as the 2020s, or have already emerged. Patterns of decreased precipitation in areas such as the Mediterranean, western Mexico, Chile, South Africa, and Australia could emerge by midcentury. Precipitation pattern changes emerged even in the lowest carbon emissions scenario. According to the authors, identifying precipitation pattern emergence on both geographical and temporal scales can aid timely regional adaptation strategies to anticipate future droughts or floods and secure global food supplies.


Article #18-11463: "Emergence of robust precipitation changes across crop production areas in the 21st century," by Maisa Rojas, Fabrice Lambert, Julian Ramirez-Villegas, and Andrew J. Challinor.

MEDIA CONTACT: Maisa Rojas, University of Chile, Santiago, CHILE; tel: +44 79 88218877; e-mail:; Andrew Challinor, University of Leeds, UNITED KINGDOM; tel: +44-0113 343 3194; e-mail:

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