Drying tendency dominating the global grain production area

Zhaoli Wang, Jun Li, Chengguang Lai, Raymond Yu Wang, Xiaohong Chen, Yanqing Lian

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


Drought is considered an environmental disaster with a direct and devastating impact on agriculture. However, little research focuses on climate change related drought variations across the global grain production area (GGPA). Thus, the variation of crop yield across different grain production regions that experience severe drought remains inadequately studied. We analyzed drought variations across the GGPA to study the impacts of severe droughts on the yields of four major crops (maize, rice, wheat, and soybean). This analysis was based on the Standardized Precipitation Evapotranspiration Index (SPEI) and the crop yield dataset from 1951 to 2011. The results indicated that the entire GGPA experienced a significant increase in drought duration, impacted area, and severity of hazards. There was an average of 2.2 dry months and the dry area increased by 1.109% per decade. Regional variations existed across the GGPA, although the majority presented a tendency to increasing drought. Southern and Northern America tended to become wetter, while Eastern Asia, Southern Europe, and Africa (except for Eastern Africa) tended to become dryer. Developing countries and regions are generally more susceptible to extreme droughts and suffer more losses than developed countries and regions.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)138-149
Number of pages12
JournalGlobal Food Security
StatePublished - Mar 2018


  • Crop yield
  • Drought variation
  • Food security
  • Global grain production area
  • SPEI

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Food Science
  • Ecology
  • Safety, Risk, Reliability and Quality
  • Safety Research


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