Impacts of El Niño Southern Oscillation on the global yields of major crops

Toshichika Iizumi, Jing Jia Luo, Andrew J. Challinor, Gen Sakurai, Masayuki Yokozawa, Hirofumi Sakuma, Molly E. Brown, Toshio Yamagata

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The monitoring and prediction of climate-induced variations in crop yields, production and export prices in major food-producing regions have become important to enable national governments in import-dependent countries to ensure supplies of affordable food for consumers. Although the El Niño/Southern Oscillation (ENSO) often affects seasonal temperature and precipitation, and thus crop yields in many regions, the overall impacts of ENSO on global yields are uncertain. Here we present a global map of the impacts of ENSO on the yields of major crops and quantify its impacts on their global-mean yield anomalies. Results show that El Niño likely improves the global-mean soybean yield by 2.1 - 5.4% but appears to change the yields of maize, rice and wheat by -4.3 to +0.8%. The global-mean yields of all four crops during La Niña years tend to be below normal (-4.5 to 0.0%). Our findings highlight the importance of ENSO to global crop production.

Original languageEnglish
Article number4712
JournalNature communications
Publication statusPublished - 2014 May 15


ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Chemistry(all)
  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
  • Physics and Astronomy(all)

Cite this

Iizumi, T., Luo, J. J., Challinor, A. J., Sakurai, G., Yokozawa, M., Sakuma, H., Brown, M. E., & Yamagata, T. (2014). Impacts of El Niño Southern Oscillation on the global yields of major crops. Nature communications, 5, [4712].