Future Changes in Rice Bioclimatic Growing Conditions in Portugal

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Rice is a historically important crop in Portugal. This crop development and production strongly depend on atmospheric conditions in the growing season. Given the strong dependence of climatic conditions, climate change may pose a significant risk for future rice production. In the present study, a high spatial resolution bioclimatic characterization over the main rice producing region in Portugal was performed for the recent past (1950–2000) and for the future (2041–2060) under four different anthropogenic forcing scenarios (RCP2.6, RCP4.5, RCP6.0, and RCP8.5). This zoning is performed by using eight bioclimatic indices, based on temperature and precipitation, using a very high resolution gridded dataset (Worldclim). For the future period, an 11-member global climate model ensemble was used, also taking into account model/scenario uncertainties and bias. Additionally, a new index was developed to incorporate the main features of temperature and precipitation at each rice field level. Under recent past climates, a clear north–south gradient in temperature and precipitation is apparent, with the regions of Tejo and Sado presenting higher temperatures and lower precipitation than the Mondego and Vouga regions. Additionally, there is a coastal–inland effect due to the Atlantic Ocean influence. Under anthropogenic climate change, all indices point to annual higher temperatures and lower precipitations across all rice producing regions, accompanied by increased seasonality. Furthermore, the rise of summertime temperatures may substantially increase water demands, which, when unmitigated, may bring physiological problems in the crop development. We conclude that climate change may negatively impact the viability of rice production in Portugal, particularly taking into account the national grown varieties. Thus, adequate and timely planning of suitable adaptation measures are needed to ensure the sustainability of this historically important food sector.
Rice , Portugal