Rothamsted Research

where knowledge grows

Food security has become a major challenge given the projected need to increase world food supply by about 70% by 2050. Global warming, characterized by shifts in weather patterns and increases in climatic variability and extremes, represent an additional challenge to achieve this goal. New wheat cultivars will be required for a rapidly-changing environment putting severe pressure on breeders who should select for climate conditions which can only be predicted with a great degree of uncertainty. We are developing mathematical and simulation models of crop-climate interactions to quantify future threats to crops and hence identify targets for crop improvement in a changing climate.

Sirius crop simulation model

Sirius, a crop simulation model,   is used in academic research by many scientists to understand crop responses to environmental variations, and in practice by farmers to optimize water and nitrogen applications. Recently the model was used to predict the shift in the distribution of  Ambrosia artemisiifolia, a highly allergenic weed,  under climate change scenarios. The process-based approach to modelling the impact of climate change on plant populations has the advantage of being able to capture interactions of climate, land use and plant competition at the local scale.

LARS-WG stochastic weather generator

LARS-WG, a stochastic weather generator,  is a computationally inexpensive tool to generate local scale climate scenarios based on output from global and regional climate models for impact assessments of climate change. LARS-WG has been used in more than 65 countries for research and in several Universities as an educational tool. A new version of LARS-WG incorporates climate predictions from 20 global climate models from the multi-model ensemble used in the IPCC Fifth Assessment Report.  The use climate scenarios based on multi-model ensemble allows quantify uncertainty in prediction of impacts of climate change.

International projects

ADAPTAWHEAT: This project aims to test a set of physiological hypotheses and identify prospective genetic factors and valuable germplasm, for flowering time and its phenological partitioning, in wheat. These hypotheses will relate to adaptation and crop performance under climate change.

AgMIP: Agricultural Model Intercomparison and Improvement Project aims to incorporate state-of-the-art climate products as well as crop and agricultural trade model improvements in coordinated regional and global assessments of future climate impacts. It includes multiple models, scenarios, locations, crops and participants to explore uncertainty and impact of data and methodological choices

ATOPICA: There is an urgent need to understand how global and regional climate, land use and air quality changes will impact human health. ATOPICA develops an innovative and multidisciplinary approach to explore the combined pan-European impact of changes in climate, land use and air pollution on allergen pollen-induced diseases through a chain of quantitative physical and statistical models. The project focuses on the invasive and highly allergenic Ambrosia pollen because of the high rate of invasion through Europe and the high frequency at which Europeans are becoming allergic to it.

MACSUR: Modelling European Agriculture with Climate Change for Food Security - MACSUR project gathers the excellence of existing research in livestock, crop, and trade science to describe how climate variability and change will affect regional farming systems and food production in Europe in the future and the associated risks for European food security. A knowledge hub is an innovative, tailor-made instrument developed by FACCE-JPI associating 3 complementary dimensions: networking, research and capacity building.

Science Team

Team Leader
Mikhail Semenov

RRes staff
Pierre Stratonovitch
Jon Storkey
Jason Bawerstock

External collaborators
Vincent Allard & Pierre Martre, INRA, France
Marco Bindi, DIPSA, Italy
Hamish Brown, Plant&Food Research, NZ
Pierluigi Calanca, Agroscope, Switserland
Fernanda Dreccer, CSIRO, Australia
John Foulkes, University of Nottingham, UK
Filippo Giorgi,ICTP,Italy
Simon Griffiths, JIC, UK
Pete Jamieson, NZ
John Porter, University of Copenhagen, Denmark
Reimund Rötter, Helsinki University, Finland
Mirek Trnka, Mendel University Czech Republic
Robert Vautard, CNRS, France