Uncertainty of wheat water use: Simulated patterns and sensitivity to temperature and CO2

Davide Cammarano*, Reimund P. Rötter, Senthold Asseng, Frank Ewert, Daniel Wallach, Pierre Martre, Jerry L. Hatfield, James W. Jones, Cynthia Rosenzweig, Alex C. Ruane, Kenneth J. Boote, Peter J. Thorburn, Kurt Christian Kersebaum, Pramod K. Aggarwal, Carlos Angulo, Bruno Basso, Patrick Bertuzzi, Christian Biernath, Nadine Brisson, Andrew J. ChallinorJordi Doltra, Sebastian Gayler, Richie Goldberg, Lee Heng, Josh E. Hooker, Leslie A. Hunt, Joachim Ingwersen, Roberto C. Izaurralde, Christoph Müller, Soora Naresh Kumar, Claas Nendel, Garry O'Leary, Jørgen E. Olesen, Tom M. Osborne, Eckart Priesack, Dominique Ripoche, Pasquale Steduto, Claudio O. Stöckle, Pierre Stratonovitch, Thilo Streck, Iwan Supit, Fulu Tao, Maria Travasso, Katharina Waha, Jeffrey W. White, Joost Wolf

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

47 Citations (Scopus)


Projected global warming and population growth will reduce future water availability for agriculture. Thus, it is essential to increase the efficiency in using water to ensure crop productivity. Quantifying crop water use (WU; i.e. actual evapotranspiration) is a critical step towards this goal. Here, sixteen wheat simulation models were used to quantify sources of model uncertainty and to estimate the relative changes and variability between models for simulated WU, water use efficiency (WUE, WU per unit of grain dry mass produced), transpiration efficiency (Teff, transpiration per kg of unit of grain yield dry mass produced), grain yield, crop transpiration and soil evaporation at increased temperatures and elevated atmospheric carbon dioxide concentrations ([CO2]). The greatest uncertainty in simulating water use, potential evapotranspiration, crop transpiration and soil evaporation was due to differences in how crop transpiration was modelled and accounted for 50% of the total variability among models. The simulation results for the sensitivity to temperature indicated that crop WU will decline with increasing temperature due to reduced growing seasons. The uncertainties in simulated crop WU, and in particularly due to uncertainties in simulating crop transpiration, were greater under conditions of increased temperatures and with high temperatures in combination with elevated atmospheric [CO2] concentrations. Hence the simulation of crop WU, and in particularly crop transpiration under higher temperature, needs to be improved and evaluated with field measurements before models can be used to simulate climate change impacts on future crop water demand.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)80-92
JournalField Crops Research
Publication statusPublished - 2016


  • Multi-model simulation
  • Sensitivity
  • Transpiration efficiency
  • Uncertainty
  • Water use


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