David Lobell is a Professor at Stanford University in the Department of Earth System Science and Deputy Director of the Center on Food Security and the Environment. He is the William Wrigley Senior Fellow at the Stanford Woods Institute for the Environment, and the Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies. His research focuses on agriculture and food security, specifically on generating and using unique datasets to study rural areas throughout the world. He has been recognized with a Macarthur Fellowship in 2013, a McMaster Fellowship from CSIRO in 2014, and the Macelwane Medal from the American Geophysical Union in 2010. He also served as lead author for the food chapter and core writing team member for the Summary for Policymakers in the recent Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Fifth Assessment Report.

Prior to his current appointment, Dr. Lobell was a Senior Research Scholar at FSE from 2008-2009 and a Lawrence Post-doctoral Fellow at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory from 2005-2007. He received a PhD in Geological and Environmental Sciences from Stanford University in 2005, and a Sc.B. in Applied Mathematics, Magna Cum Laude from Brown University in 2000.

Administrative Appointments

  • Lawrence Postdoctoral Fellow, Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (2005 - 2007)
  • Senior Research Scholar, Program on Food Security and the Environment, Stanford University (2008 - 2009)
  • Senior Fellow, Stanford Woods Institute for the Environment, Stanford University (2009 - Present)
  • Senior Fellow, Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies, Stanford University (2009 - Present)
  • Center Fellow, Center on Food Security and the Environment, Stanford University (2009 - Present)
  • Associate Director, Center on Food Security and the Environment, Stanford University (2012 - 2014)
  • Deputy Director, Center on Food Security and the Environment, Stanford University (2014 - Present)
  • Assistant Professor, Environmental Earth System Science, Stanford University (2009 - Present)

Honors & Awards

  • Outstanding Student Paper Award, American Geophysical Union Fall Meeting (1999)
  • Graduate Research Fellowship, NSF (2000-2004)
  • Carbon, Climate and Society Initiative Fellowship, NSF Integrative Graduate Education and Research Training (2001-2002)
  • Best of Session Award, ERIM Conference on Geospatial Information in Agriculture and Forestry (2001)
  • Graduate Student Fellowship, EPA Science to Achieve Results (2004)
  • Graduate Student Fellowship, NASA Earth System Science (2004)
  • Lawrence Fellowship, Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (2005-2008)
  • NASA New Investigator Program Award, NASA (2008-2011)
  • Google Science Communication Fellow, Google (2010)
  • James B. Macelwane Medal, American Geophysical Union (2010)
  • Terman Fellow, Stanford University (2011-2014)
  • Macarthur Fellow, Macarthur Foundation (2014-2018)
  • Sir Frederick McMaster Fellowship, CSIRO, Australia (2014)

Boards, Advisory Committees, Professional Organizations

  • Editorial Advisory Board Member, Global Food Security (2012 - Present)
  • Core Writing Team Member, IPCC Working Group 2 Summary for Policy Makers (2012 - 2014)
  • Editor, Global Change Biology (2011 - Present)
  • Woodrow Wilson Fellowship selection committee, School of Education, Stanford University (2011 - 2013)
  • Committee on Assessing the Impact of Climate Change on Political and Social Stresses, Member of National Academy of Sciences (2011 - 2012)
  • Member of Technical Advisory and Review Panel, World Bank Group activities related to climate change adaptation (2011 - 2012)
  • Advisory committee for Haas center, Stanford University (2010 - Present)
  • Fellow, American Geophysical Union (2010 - Present)
  • Freshman Advisor, Stanford University (2010 - Present)
  • Lead Author, IPCC Working Group 2, "Food Production Systems and Food Security" (2010 - 2014)
  • Stanford Interdisciplinary Graduate Fellowship review committee, Stanford University (2010 - 2013)
  • Woods Institute Environmental Venture Project proposal review committee, Stanford University (2010 - 2013)
  • Carnegie Institution Dept. of Global Ecology Search Committee, Stanford University (2010 - 2010)
  • EESS department seminar organizer, Stanford University (2010 - 2010)
  • Earth Systems Executive Committee, Land Track Leader, Stanford University (2009 - Present)
  • Earth Systems masters advisor, Stanford University (2009 - Present)
  • Goldman Honors Program Advisory Committee, Stanford University (2009 - Present)
  • PhD committees for four students, Stanford University (2009 - Present)
  • Editorial Board Member, Environmental Research Letters (2009 - 2013)
  • Member, National Academy of Sciences Committee on Stabilization Targets for Atmospheric Greenhouse Gas Concentrations (2009 - 2010)
  • Associate Editor, Journal of Environmental Quality (2008 - 2010)
  • Panel on Climate, Energy, and Security, Panel on Climate, Energy, and Security (2008 - 2008)
  • Workshop on Remote Sensing for Human Welfare, National Academy of Sciences (2006 - 2006)
  • Member, American Society of Agronomy (2005 - Present)
  • Member, Ecological Society of America (2005 - Present)
  • Land Cover Land Use Change Grant Review Panel, NASA (2005 - 2005)
  • Member, American Geophysical Union (2000 - Present)

Professional Education

  • Ph.D., Stanford University, Geological and Environmental Sciences (2005)
  • Sc.B., Brown University, Applied Mathematics (2000)

Current Research and Scholarly Interests

I study the interactions between food production, food security, and the environment using a range of modern tools. Current work focuses on three main areas of research: how to effectively adapt agriculture to climate change, how to reduce yield gaps in major cropping regions, and how to quantify environmental consequences of biofuel and food crop production. A common theme is the use of large datasets to constrain and improve models that represent our understanding of how the world works. Prospective students interested in food security, climate change, and/or how to combine models and large datasets in creative ways are encouraged to contact me.

I regularly teach three courses open to both undergraduate and graduate students. One is Fundamentals of Modeling (EESS 211), which is a hands-on introduction to environmental modeling concepts and techniques, taught every year. Second is Feeding Nine Billion (ES185), an introduction to basics of crop ecology and agronomy, world crop production systems, and tradeoffs associated with various new practices or technologies, also taught every year (starting in 2013). Third is Climate and Agriculture (ES184) which covers different aspects of climate change impacts on food production and food security, and is taught every other year (next in 2015).

Professional Activities
Current activities in 2012: Lead author for IPCC Fifth Assessment Report; Member of National Academy of Science committee on "Assessing the Impact of Climate Change on Political and Social Stresses"; Member of Technical Advisory and Review Panel for World Bank Group activities related to climate change adaptation; Editor for Global Change Biology and Associate Editor for Environmental Research Letters; numerous academic and public lectures


  • Food Price Spikes in a Warming World, Stanford University (9/1/2010 - 8/31/2014)

    In this project, we seek to improve quantitative understanding of price spikes in general and the potential effects of climate change on these spikes in particular. The project is divided into five steps. Part A will consider the relationship between weather outcomes and yields for the four major staple crops: corn, soybeans, wheat and rice. Part B establishes how weather distributions are predicted to change in various general circulation models.

    Part C combines the crop yield response function of part A with the predicted changes in weather outcomes to derive a distribution of yield outcomes. Specifically, we will consider how (1) yield variability increases with higher average temperatures because of the nonlinear response of yield to temperature; (2) yield variability increases with potential increased climate variability and frequency of extreme weather events; (3) bad weather events could become more or less correlated between key regions and thereby affect the extent to which idiosyncratic weather shocks may no longer average out, influencing aggregate yield variability; (4) production could become more or less concentrated in particular regions and thus again influence the variability of aggregate yield outcomes.

    Part D considers estimation of fundamental demand, supply and storage elasticities of agricultural commodities using random exogenous yield shocks as an instrument. These elasticities are required to translate yield distributions from part C into price distributions. Part E will use results from parts C and D to simulate the effects of changing climatic conditions on food prices. We will examine how the increased supply variability will affect optimal storage behavior.

    More frequent price spikes give an added incentive to accumulate inventories, thereby dampening the predicted increase in price spikes. Similarly, continued expansion of irrigated agriculture can make yields less variable. On the other hand, some government policies, like export restrictions have the potential to increase price variability, and may also affect storage behavior.



    For More Information:

  • Use of Climate Information in International Negotiations for Adaptation Resources, Stanford University

    Adaptation of vulnerable areas to climate change is---and will continue to be---an important subject of negotiations taking place in several international forums, including the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change; the Major Economies negotiations; and the G-8 talks. Ideally, adaptation assistance to any given nation would be commensurate with the social and economic impacts of future climate change and the cost of the required adaptation measures. Instead, neither is known. Climatic changes themselves are only projected in broad strokes: important details at the regional and sub-seasonal scale---such as the changes in frequency of monsoon breaks in the Niger River basin, to make just one example---are not simulated directly by current climate models. Moreover, determining the economic impact of a given climate scenario is challenging, as is assessing the cost and efficacy of adaptation scenarios, as demonstrated by the controversy that followed the Stern review.

    Yet, as imperfect and incomplete as it is, the output of climate and economic models must inform negotiations for international adaptation funds---if those are not to be solely the result of political expediency. The aim of this project is to bring together climate scientists, economists, and law scholars to identify how to best achieve the goal of bringing climate and economic modeling results to bear on these negotiations. In particular, we want to identify (i) what is the most useful information that can be delivered to negotiators by state-of-the-art climatic and economic models, (ii) how that information can be most effectively presented, and (iii) how measures of uncertainty can be brought into the negotiation process as additional, valuable information.

    The proposed project is organized around three main questions that address (i) the nature of the information needed for the best allocation of resources, (ii) the form in which such information should be framed in order for it to be most comprehensible and useful to negotiators, and (iii) the extent to which uncertainty in the projections is now used to discount climate impact information and how instead uncertainty estimates can be reformulated as valuable information regarding the range and likelihood of possible outcomes and incorporated in the negotiation process.




    • Kaiyu Guan, Postdoctoral Research fellow, Environmental Earth System Science, School of Earth Sciences

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  • Quantification and reduction of uncertainties in projections of climate impacts on drought and agriculture for North America, Stanford (8/1/2011 - 7/31/2015)

    Agricultural productivity is highly dependent on climate variability and is thus susceptible to future changes including temperature extremes and drought. The latter is expected to increase in frequency regionally over this century. However, the uncertainty in projections of drought and its impacts on agriculture is high due to emission scenarios, climate model differences, uncertainty in initial/boundary conditions, and translation to regional scales. Climate models are unanimous in projecting future warming but differ in the magnitude and even sign of regional precipitation changes. They also differ in terms of extremes of temperature, precipitation and other meteorology. When projecting future impacts on crop productivity, these uncertainties are compounded because current crop models often use simplified treatments of climate response and do not include comprehensive treatments of water availability. Therefore, projections of regional climate change, variability and its impacts on water availability and agriculture are highly uncertain and reduction of uncertainties requires attention to all levels in the climate-water-agriculture continuum.

    Rationale: Given the uncertainties in future agricultural production and the complex relationships between climate, hydrology and crop development, there is pressing need to make improved estimates of future changes in climate change and crop yields. We propose to evaluate the uncertainties in estimates of future changes in climate, water availability and agricultural production, and make improved estimates by incorporating state of the art knowledge of the relationships between climate, hydrology and agriculture into modeling and downscaling. This has ramifications for disaster preparedness and mitigation, policy making and the political response to climate change, and intersects with fundamental science questions about climate change, extremes and hydrologic cycle intensification. It is central to the mission of the Climate Program Office’s MAPP program to “enhance the Nation’s capability to predict variability and changes of the Earth’s System” and directly addresses its priorities to evaluate and reduce uncertainties in climate projections. This work will leverage from the PIs’ experience and ongoing activities in large-scale climate analysis and hydrologic modeling, particularly in changes in drought historically and under future climates, and agricultural modeling and relationships between climate and crop productivity.

    Summary of work to be completed:

    Quantify the relationships between hydroclimate variables and the implications for water, drought and agriculture based on observational data.
    Evaluate sensitivities of hydrologic and crop models to changes in climate and drought. Differences in climate variability, land-atmosphere coupling and hydrologic persistence will lead to differences in key metrics of water and agriculture which will form the basis for evaluation of the uncertainties in future projections.
    Evaluate current climate models in how they replicate these observed relationships using the CMIP5 long-term and decadal predictions.
    Estimate uncertainties in future projections of climate, drought and agriculture using a cascade of climate, downscaling, hydrologic and crop models with strategic sampling to decompose sources of uncertainty.
    Implement a set of methods to reduce uncertainties in future projections based on observational constraints including merging of climate model predictions, bias correction and scaling of climate model output, and improvements to impact models.


    North America

    For More Information:

  • Evaluating Climate Adaptation Options in African Agriculture, Stanford University (1/1/2011 - 10/31/2014)

    FSE's previous Rockefeller project on "Prioritizing Investments in Food Security under a Changing Climate" pursued several research directions in an effort to better characterize the risks that climate change poses to agriculture in Africa. Among the lessons from the project were that climate change poses a substantial impediment to agricultural progress in Africa, that maize and Southern Africa are particularly vulnerable, and that inadequate soil moisture can substantially aggravate the effects of heat.

    Although several questions remain on the question of risks and adaptation needs, we are gradually shifting our research program to evaluate priorities from the perspective of adaptation opportunities. What works and what doesn't? Or more specifically, what are the most effective ways to deal with the most serious threats that climate change poses? And given the type and scale of current efforts at adaptation, is Africa on a trajectory to effectively adapt to climate change?

    A key lesson from prior work is that climate change is already underway and having non-trivial effects on agriculture, even today. From a research perspective, this increases the urgency of finding effective adaptations but also provides an opportunity to learn from ongoing attempts to adapt production systems.

    The research project includes four main components:

    Evaluating the adaptation potential for new crop varieties.
    Evaluating the adaptation potential of small-scale irrigation.
    Evaluating a suite of adaptation options in the Sahel.
    Characterizing ongoing and proposed adaptation activities.



    For More Information:

  • Interdisciplinary Research on Introducing Heat-Tolerant Wheat to Bolster Food Security, Stanford University (8/1/2014 - 7/31/2017)

    The project is supported under the NSF Science, Engineering and Education for Sustainability Fellows (SEES Fellows) program, with the goal of helping to enable discoveries needed to inform actions that lead to environmental, energy and societal sustainability while creating the necessary workforce to address these challenges. Sustainability science is an emerging field that addresses the challenges of meeting human needs without harm to the environment, and without sacrificing the ability of future generations to meet their needs. A strong scientific workforce requires individuals educated and trained in interdisciplinary research and thinking, especially in the area of sustainability science. With the SEES Fellowship support, this project will enable a promising early career researcher to establish herself in an independent research career related to sustainability. This project focuses on food sustainability and security on a global scale. The partnerships built into this project will give the Fellow significant inter-disciplinary training (adding the components of randomized controlled trials and crop modeling) beyond the scope of her current expertise. This is particularly important since her goal is to become a sustainability scientist who combines methods and tools from the natural and social sciences to understand how humans are impacted by and adapt to environmental change. Specifically, the Fellow will participate in an interdisciplinary institutes (Center on Food Security and the Environment at Stanford, and Center for Effective Global Action at UC Berkeley). Also, at Stanford University, the Fellow will gain teaching and mentoring experience.

    Climate change is predicted to negatively impact agricultural communities and food security across the globe, with models estimating up to a 40% reduction in the yield of some crops by the end of the century. This is particularly problematic for wheat, which is a major staple crop (providing 20% of daily calories) that is already facing declining yields due to warming temperatures. Previous studies have shown that autonomous adaptation strategies (e.g. increasing irrigation, shifting planting date) are not enough to mitigate the negative impacts of warming, and planned adaptation strategies that introduce heat-tolerant wheat varieties are needed to sustainably bolster yields and food security in the face of climate change. Interdisciplinary research is necessary to (1) identify the most effective ways to introduce these new technologies to vulnerable communities, and (2) assess whether the predicted yield benefits of these crops are realized in the field where farmers may deviate from ideal management practices. This study uses randomized controlled trials from development economics to evaluate introduction strategies, remote sensing to quantify if new heat-tolerant wheat varieties provide yield benefits in the field, and process-based crop models to assess whether these new varieties provide predicted yield benefits in future warming scenarios. Understanding the effectiveness of information transfer is particularly important for heat-tolerant crops because, unlike high-yielding varieties introduced during the Green Revolution, heat-tolerant crops may not provide immediate benefits and only produce higher yields in unseasonably warm years. Thus, the adoption and diffusion of this technology may depend purely on whether farmers trust and receive accurate information about possible future benefits. This study is one of the first to examine the most effective ways to introduce new crops that mitigate against climate variability and future climate risk, which is necessary to sustainably enhance food security in the face of climate change.




    • Meha Jain, Postdoctoral Research fellow, Environmental Earth System Science, School of Earth Sciences

    For More Information:

  • Using Remote Sensing to Close the Corn Yield Gap in Northern China, Stan




    • Yi Zhao, Ph.D. Student in Environmental Earth System Science, admitted Autumn 2011, School of Earth Sciences
  • Prioritizing Investments in Food Security Under a Changing Climate, Stanford University (2008 - Present)

    A team led by FSE fellow David Lobell has found a valuable, untapped resource in historical data from crop yield trials conducted across sub-Saharan Africa. Combined with weather records, they show that yield losses would occur across 65 percent of maize-growing areas from a temperature rise of a single degree Celsius, even with sufficient water.

    Over much of the world, the growing season of 2050 will probably be warmer than the hottest of recent years, with more variable rainfall. If we continue to grow the same crops in the same way, climate change will contribute to yield declines in many places. With potentially less food to feed more people, we have no choice but to adapt agriculture to the new conditions. New approaches are needed to accelerate understanding of climate impacts on crop yields, particularly in tropical regions.

    This project is studying the potential effects of climate change on agriculture and adaptations options in African agriculture. The work will seek to assess climate threats to staple food crops at a country level, quantify the sources of uncertainty inherent in these assessments, and determine what implications shifts in crop climates have for agricultural adaptation and genetic resources preservation - with the end goal of helping prioritize investments in agricultural development and food security under a changing climate.




    • Walter Falcon, Helen C. Farnsworth Professor of International Agricultural Policy, Emeritus, Stanford University
    • Rosamond Naylor, Professor of Environmental Earth System Science and Senior Fellow at the Woods Institute for the Environment and at the Freeman Spogli Institute and Professor, by courtesy, of Economics, Stanford University

    For More Information:

2017-18 Courses

Stanford Advisees

All Publications

  • Yield trends under varying environmental conditions for sorghum and wheat across Australia AGRICULTURAL AND FOREST METEOROLOGY Potgieter, A. B., Lobell, D. B., Hammer, G. L., Jordan, D. R., Davis, P., Brider, J. 2016; 228: 276-285
  • Combining satellite imagery and machine learning to predict poverty. Science Jean, N., Burke, M., Xie, M., Davis, W. M., Lobell, D. B., Ermon, S. 2016; 353 (6301): 790-794


    Reliable data on economic livelihoods remain scarce in the developing world, hampering efforts to study these outcomes and to design policies that improve them. Here we demonstrate an accurate, inexpensive, and scalable method for estimating consumption expenditure and asset wealth from high-resolution satellite imagery. Using survey and satellite data from five African countries--Nigeria, Tanzania, Uganda, Malawi, and Rwanda--we show how a convolutional neural network can be trained to identify image features that can explain up to 75% of the variation in local-level economic outcomes. Our method, which requires only publicly available data, could transform efforts to track and target poverty in developing countries. It also demonstrates how powerful machine learning techniques can be applied in a setting with limited training data, suggesting broad potential application across many scientific domains.

    View details for DOI 10.1126/science.aaf7894

    View details for PubMedID 27540167

  • An approach to understanding persistent yield variation-A case study in North China Plain EUROPEAN JOURNAL OF AGRONOMY Zhao, Y., Chen, X., Lobell, D. B. 2016; 77: 10-19
  • Colocation opportunities for large solar infrastructures and agriculture in drylands APPLIED ENERGY Ravi, S., Macknick, J., Lobell, D., Field, C., Ganesan, K., Jain, R., Elchinger, M., Stoltenberg, B. 2016; 165: 383-392
  • Improving the monitoring of crop productivity using spaceborne solar-induced fluorescence. Global change biology Guan, K., Berry, J. A., Zhang, Y., Joiner, J., Guanter, L., Badgley, G., Lobell, D. B. 2016; 22 (2): 716-726


    Large-scale monitoring of crop growth and yield has important value for forecasting food production and prices and ensuring regional food security. A newly emerging satellite retrieval, solar-induced fluorescence (SIF) of chlorophyll, provides for the first time a direct measurement related to plant photosynthetic activity (i.e. electron transport rate). Here, we provide a framework to link SIF retrievals and crop yield, accounting for stoichiometry, photosynthetic pathways, and respiration losses. We apply this framework to estimate United States crop productivity for 2007-2012, where we use the spaceborne SIF retrievals from the Global Ozone Monitoring Experiment-2 satellite, benchmarked with county-level crop yield statistics, and compare it with various traditional crop monitoring approaches. We find that a SIF-based approach accounting for photosynthetic pathways (i.e. C3 and C4 crops) provides the best measure of crop productivity among these approaches, despite the fact that SIF sensors are not yet optimized for terrestrial applications. We further show that SIF provides the ability to infer the impacts of environmental stresses on autotrophic respiration and carbon-use-efficiency, with a substantial sensitivity of both to high temperatures. These results indicate new opportunities for improved mechanistic understanding of crop yield responses to climate variability and change.

    View details for DOI 10.1111/gcb.13136

    View details for PubMedID 26490834

  • Contribution of persistent factors to yield gaps in high-yield irrigated maize FIELD CROPS RESEARCH Farmaha, B. S., Lobell, D. B., Boone, K. E., Cassman, K. G., Yang, H. S., Grassini, P. 2016; 186: 124-132
  • Growing sensitivity of maize to water scarcity under climate change. Scientific reports Meng, Q., Chen, X., Lobell, D. B., Cui, Z., Zhang, Y., Yang, H., Zhang, F. 2016; 6: 19605-?


    Climate change can reduce crop yields and thereby threaten food security. The current measures used to adapt to climate change involve avoiding crops yield decrease, however, the limitations of such measures due to water and other resources scarcity have not been well understood. Here, we quantify how the sensitivity of maize to water availability has increased because of the shift toward longer-maturing varieties during last three decades in the Chinese Maize Belt (CMB). We report that modern, longer-maturing varieties have extended the growing period by an average of 8 days and have significantly offset the negative impacts of climate change on yield. However, the sensitivity of maize production to water has increased: maize yield across the CMB was 5% lower with rainfed than with irrigated maize in the 1980s and was 10% lower (and even >20% lower in some areas) in the 2000s because of both warming and the increased requirement for water by the longer-maturing varieties. Of the maize area in China, 40% now fails to receive the precipitation required to attain the full yield potential. Opportunities for water saving in maize systems exist, but water scarcity in China remains a serious problem.

    View details for DOI 10.1038/srep19605

    View details for PubMedID 26804136

    View details for PubMedCentralID PMC4726359

  • Using satellite remote sensing to understand maize yield gaps in the North China Plain FIELD CROPS RESEARCH Zhao, Y., Chen, X., Cui, Z., Lobell, D. B. 2015; 183: 31-42
  • The shifting influence of drought and heat stress for crops in northeast Australia GLOBAL CHANGE BIOLOGY Lobell, D. B., Hammer, G. L., Chenu, K., Zheng, B., Mclean, G., Chapman, S. C. 2015; 21 (11): 4115-4127

    View details for DOI 10.1111/gcb.13022

    View details for Web of Science ID 000364777200017

    View details for PubMedID 26152643

  • What aspects of future rainfall changes matter for crop yields in West Africa? GEOPHYSICAL RESEARCH LETTERS Guan, K., Sultan, B., Biasutti, M., Baron, C., Lobell, D. B. 2015; 42 (19): 8001-8010
  • A scalable satellite-based crop yield mapper REMOTE SENSING OF ENVIRONMENT Lobell, D. B., Thau, D., Seifert, C., Engle, E., Little, B. 2015; 164: 324-333
  • The effects of extremely wet planting conditions on maize and soybean yields CLIMATIC CHANGE Urban, D. W., Roberts, M. J., Schlenker, W., Lobell, D. B. 2015; 130 (2): 247-260
  • The impacts of future climate and carbon dioxide changes on the average and variability of US maize yields under two emission scenarios ENVIRONMENTAL RESEARCH LETTERS Urban, D. W., Sheffield, J., Lobell, D. B. 2015; 10 (4)
  • The fingerprint of climate trends on European crop yields PROCEEDINGS OF THE NATIONAL ACADEMY OF SCIENCES OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA Moore, F. C., Lobell, D. B. 2015; 112 (9): 2670-2675


    Europe has experienced a stagnation of some crop yields since the early 1990s as well as statistically significant warming during the growing season. Although it has been argued that these two are causally connected, no previous studies have formally attributed long-term yield trends to a changing climate. Here, we present two statistical tests based on the distinctive spatial pattern of climate change impacts and adaptation, and explore their power under a range of parameter values. We show that statistical power for the identification of climate change impacts is high in many settings, but that power for identifying adaptation is almost always low. Applying these tests to European agriculture, we find evidence that long-term temperature and precipitation trends since 1989 have reduced continent-wide wheat and barley yields by 2.5% and 3.8%, respectively, and have slightly increased maize and sugar beet yields. These averages disguise large heterogeneity across the continent, with regions around the Mediterranean experiencing significant adverse impacts on most crops. This result means that climate trends can account for ∼ 10% of the stagnation in European wheat and barley yields, with likely explanations for the remainder including changes in agriculture and environmental policies.

    View details for DOI 10.1073/pnas.1409606112

    View details for Web of Science ID 000350224900034

    View details for PubMedID 25691735

  • Response of double cropping suitability to climate change in the United States ENVIRONMENTAL RESEARCH LETTERS Seifert, C. A., Lobell, D. B. 2015; 10 (2)
  • Rising temperatures reduce global wheat production NATURE CLIMATE CHANGE Asseng, S., Ewert, F., Martre, P., Roetter, R. P., Lobell, D. B., Cammarano, D., Kimball, B. A., Ottman, M. J., Wall, G. W., White, J. W., Reynolds, M. P., Alderman, P. D., Prasad, P. V., Aggarwal, P. K., Anothai, J., BASSO, B., Biernath, C., Challinor, A. J., De Sanctis, G., Doltra, J., Fereres, E., Garcia-Vile, M., Gayler, S., Hoogenboom, G., Hunt, L. A., Izaurralde, R. C., Jabloun, M., Jones, C. D., Kersebaum, K. C., Koehler, A., Mueller, C., Kumar, S. N., Nendel, C., O'Leary, G., Olesen, J. E., PALOSUO, T., Priesack, E., Rezaei, E. E., Ruane, A. C., Semenov, M. A., Shcherbak, I., Stoeckle, C., Stratonovitch, P., Streck, T., Supit, I., Tao, F., Thorburn, P. J., Waha, K., Wang, E., Wallach, D., Wolf, I., Zhao, Z., Zhu, Y. 2015; 5 (2): 143-147
  • Historical climate trends, deforestation, and maize and bean yields in Nicaragua AGRICULTURAL AND FOREST METEOROLOGY Gourdji, S., Laederach, P., Martinez Valle, A., Zelaya Martinez, C., Lobell, D. B. 2015; 200: 270-281
  • Agricultural adaptation to climate change in rich and poor countries: Current modeling practice and potential for empirical contributions ENERGY ECONOMICS Hertel, T. W., Lobell, D. B. 2014; 46: 562-575
  • Robust features of future climate change impacts on sorghum yields in West Africa ENVIRONMENTAL RESEARCH LETTERS Sultan, B., Guan, K., Kouressy, M., Biasutti, M., Piani, C., Hammer, G. L., McLean, G., Lobell, D. B. 2014; 9 (10)
  • Getting caught with our plants down: the risks of a global crop yield slowdown from climate trends in the next two decades ENVIRONMENTAL RESEARCH LETTERS Lobell, D. B., Tebaldi, C. 2014; 9 (7)
  • Adaptation potential of European agriculture in response to climate change NATURE CLIMATE CHANGE Moore, F. C., Lobell, D. B. 2014; 4 (7): 610-614
  • Greater Sensitivity to Drought Accompanies Maize Yield Increase in the US Midwest SCIENCE Lobell, D. B., Roberts, M. J., Schlenker, W., Braun, N., Little, B. B., Rejesus, R. M., Hammer, G. L. 2014; 344 (6183): 516-519


    A key question for climate change adaptation is whether existing cropping systems can become less sensitive to climate variations. We use a field-level data set on maize and soybean yields in the central United States for 1995 through 2012 to examine changes in drought sensitivity. Although yields have increased in absolute value under all levels of stress for both crops, the sensitivity of maize yields to drought stress associated with high vapor pressure deficits has increased. The greater sensitivity has occurred despite cultivar improvements and increased carbon dioxide and reflects the agronomic trend toward higher sowing densities. The results suggest that agronomic changes tend to translate improved drought tolerance of plants to higher average yields but not to decreasing drought sensitivity of yields at the field scale.

    View details for DOI 10.1126/science.1251423

    View details for Web of Science ID 000335157700043

    View details for PubMedID 24786079

  • A meta-analysis of crop yield under climate change and adaptation NATURE CLIMATE CHANGE Challinor, A. J., Watson, J., Lobell, D. B., Howden, S. M., Smith, D. R., Chhetri, N. 2014; 4 (4): 287-291
  • Tradeoffs and Synergies between Biofuel Production and Large Solar Infrastructure in Deserts. Environmental science & technology Ravi, S., Lobell, D. B., Field, C. B. 2014; 48 (5): 3021-3030


    Solar energy installations in deserts are on the rise, fueled by technological advances and policy changes. Deserts, with a combination of high solar radiation and availability of large areas unusable for crop production are ideal locations for large solar installations. However, for efficient power generation, solar infrastructures use large amounts of water for construction and operation. We investigated the water use and greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions associated with solar installations in North American deserts in comparison to agave-based biofuel production, another widely promoted potential energy source from arid systems. We determined the uncertainty in our analysis by a Monte Carlo approach that varied the most important parameters, as determined by sensitivity analysis. We considered the uncertainty in our estimates as a result of variations in the number of solar modules ha(-1), module efficiency, number of agave plants ha(-1), and overall sugar conversion efficiency for agave. Further, we considered the uncertainty in revenue and returns as a result of variations in the wholesale price of electricity and installation cost of solar photovoltaic (PV), wholesale price of agave ethanol, and cost of agave cultivation and ethanol processing. The life-cycle analyses show that energy outputs and GHG offsets from solar PV systems, mean energy output of 2405 GJ ha(-1) year(-1) (5 and 95% quantile values of 1940-2920) and mean GHG offsets of 464 Mg of CO2 equiv ha(-1) year(-1) (375-562), are much larger than agave, mean energy output from 206 (171-243) to 61 (50-71) GJ ha(-1) year(-1) and mean GHG offsets from 18 (14-22) to 4.6 (3.7-5.5) Mg of CO2 equiv ha(-1) year(-1), depending upon the yield scenario of agave. Importantly though, water inputs for cleaning solar panels and dust suppression are similar to amounts required for annual agave growth, suggesting the possibility of integrating the two systems to maximize the efficiency of land and water use to produce both electricity and liquid fuel. A life-cycle analysis of a hypothetical colocation indicated higher returns per m(3) of water used than either system alone. Water requirements for energy production were 0.22 L MJ(-1) (0.28-0.19) and 0.42 L MJ(-1) (0.52-0.35) for solar PV-agave (baseline yield) and solar PV-agave (high yield), respectively. Even though colocation may not be practical in all locations, in some water-limited areas, colocated solar PV-agave systems may provide attractive economic incentives in addition to efficient land and water use.

    View details for DOI 10.1021/es404950n

    View details for PubMedID 24467248

  • 10.1088/1748-9326/9/10/104006 Environmental Research Letters Sultan, B., Guan, K., Kouressy, M., Biasutti, M., Piani, C., Hammer, G., McLean, G., Lobell, D. 2014; 9 (10)
  • Testing Remote Sensing Approaches for Assessing Yield Variability among Maize Fields AGRONOMY JOURNAL Sibley, A. M., Grassini, P., Thomas, N. E., Cassman, K. G., Lobell, D. B. 2014; 106 (1): 24-32
  • The benefits of recent warming for maize production in high latitude China CLIMATIC CHANGE Meng, Q., Hou, P., Lobell, D. B., Wang, H., Cui, Z., Zhang, F., Chen, X. 2014; 122 (1-2): 341-349
  • Climate change adaptation in crop production: Beware of illusions Global Food Security Lobell, D. B. 2014; 3 (2): 72-76
  • The challenge to detect and attribute effects of climate change on human and natural systems CLIMATIC CHANGE Stone, D., Auffhammer, M., Carey, M., Hansen, G., Huggel, C., Cramer, W., Lobell, D., Molau, U., Solow, A., Tibig, L., Yohe, G. 2013; 121 (2): 381-395
  • Seasonal energy storage using bioenergy production from abandoned croplands ENVIRONMENTAL RESEARCH LETTERS Campbell, J. E., Lobell, D. B., Genova, R. C., Zumkehr, A., Field, C. B. 2013; 8 (3)
  • The critical role of extreme heat for maize production in the United States NATURE CLIMATE CHANGE Lobell, D. B., Hammer, G. L., Mclean, G., Messina, C., Roberts, M. J., Schlenker, W. 2013; 3 (5): 497-501
  • Global crop exposure to critical high temperatures in the reproductive period: historical trends and future projections ENVIRONMENTAL RESEARCH LETTERS Gourdji, S. M., Sibley, A. M., Lobell, D. B. 2013; 8 (2)
  • Simulated hydroclimatic impacts of projected Brazilian sugarcane expansion GEOPHYSICAL RESEARCH LETTERS Georgescu, M., Lobell, D. B., Field, C. B., Mahalov, A. 2013; 40 (5): 972-977

    View details for DOI 10.1002/grl.50206

    View details for Web of Science ID 000318242900032

  • Errors in climate datasets and their effects on statistical crop models AGRICULTURAL AND FOREST METEOROLOGY Lobell, D. B. 2013; 170: 58-66
  • The use of satellite data for crop yield gap analysis FIELD CROPS RESEARCH Lobell, D. B. 2013; 143: 56-64
  • Reduction of transpiration and altered nutrient allocation contribute to nutrient decline of crops grown in elevated CO2 concentrations PLANT CELL AND ENVIRONMENT McGrath, J. M., Lobell, D. B. 2013; 36 (3): 697-705


    Plants grown in elevated [CO(2) ] have lower protein and mineral concentrations compared with plants grown in ambient [CO(2) ]. Dilution by enhanced production of carbohydrates is a likely cause, but it cannot explain all of the reductions. Two proposed, but untested, hypotheses are that (1) reduced canopy transpiration reduces mass flow of nutrients to the roots thus reducing nutrient uptake and (2) changes in metabolite or enzyme concentrations caused by physiological changes alter requirements for minerals as protein cofactors or in other organic complexes, shifting allocation between tissues and possibly altering uptake. Here, we use the meta-analysis of previous studies in crops to test these hypotheses. Nutrients acquired mostly by mass flow were decreased significantly more by elevated [CO(2) ] than nutrients acquired by diffusion to the roots through the soil, supporting the first hypothesis. Similarly, Mg showed large concentration declines in leaves and wheat stems, but smaller decreases in other tissues. Because chlorophyll requires a large fraction of total plant Mg, and chlorophyll concentration is reduced by growth in elevated [CO(2) ], this supports the second hypothesis. Understanding these mechanisms may guide efforts to improve nutrient content, and allow modeling of nutrient changes and health impacts under future climate change scenarios.

    View details for DOI 10.1111/pce.12007

    View details for Web of Science ID 000314187300016

    View details for PubMedID 22943419

  • An assessment of wheat yield sensitivity and breeding gains in hot environments PROCEEDINGS OF THE ROYAL SOCIETY B-BIOLOGICAL SCIENCES Gourdji, S. M., Mathews, K. L., Reynolds, M., Crossa, J., Lobell, D. B. 2013; 280 (1752)


    Genetic improvements in heat tolerance of wheat provide a potential adaptation response to long-term warming trends, and may also boost yields in wheat-growing areas already subject to heat stress. Yet there have been few assessments of recent progress in breeding wheat for hot environments. Here, data from 25 years of wheat trials in 76 countries from the International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center (CIMMYT) are used to empirically model the response of wheat to environmental variation and assess the genetic gains over time in different environments and for different breeding strategies. Wheat yields exhibited the most sensitivity to warming during the grain-filling stage, typically the hottest part of the season. Sites with high vapour pressure deficit (VPD) exhibited a less negative response to temperatures during this period, probably associated with increased transpirational cooling. Genetic improvements were assessed by using the empirical model to correct observed yield growth for changes in environmental conditions and management over time. These 'climate-corrected' yield trends showed that most of the genetic gains in the high-yield-potential Elite Spring Wheat Yield Trial (ESWYT) were made at cooler temperatures, close to the physiological optimum, with no evidence for genetic gains at the hottest temperatures. In contrast, the Semi-Arid Wheat Yield Trial (SAWYT), a lower-yielding nursery targeted at maintaining yields under stressed conditions, showed the strongest genetic gains at the hottest temperatures. These results imply that targeted breeding efforts help us to ensure progress in building heat tolerance, and that intensified (and possibly new) approaches are needed to improve the yield potential of wheat in hot environments in order to maintain global food security in a warmer climate.

    View details for DOI 10.1098/rspb.2012.2190

    View details for Web of Science ID 000312591600001

    View details for PubMedID 23222442

  • Satellite detection of earlier wheat sowing in India and implications for yield trends AGRICULTURAL SYSTEMS Lobell, D. B., Ivan Ortiz-Monasterio, J., Sibley, A. M., Sohu, V. S. 2013; 115: 137-143
  • Regional disparities in the CO2 fertilization effect and implications for crop yields ENVIRONMENTAL RESEARCH LETTERS McGrath, J. M., Lobell, D. B. 2013; 8 (1)
  • An assessment of wheat breeding gains in hot environments Proceedings of the Royal Society Proc. B Biological Sciences Gourji, S., Mathews, K., Reynolds, N., Cross , J., Lobell , D. B. 2013; 280: 20122190

    View details for DOI 10.1098/rspb.2012.2190

  • Climate adaptation as mitigation: the case of agricultural investments ENVIRONMENTAL RESEARCH LETTERS Lobell, D. B., Baldos, U. L., Hertel, T. W. 2013; 8 (1)
  • The Influence of Climate Change on Global Crop Productivity PLANT PHYSIOLOGY Lobell, D. B., Gourdji, S. M. 2012; 160 (4): 1686-1697

    View details for DOI 10.1104/pp.112.208298

    View details for Web of Science ID 000311998200003

    View details for PubMedID 23054565

  • Projected temperature changes indicate significant increase in interannual variability of U.S. maize yields CLIMATIC CHANGE Urban, D., Roberts, M. J., Schlenker, W., Lobell, D. B. 2012; 112 (2): 525-533
  • The case of the missing wheat ENVIRONMENTAL RESEARCH LETTERS Lobell, D. B. 2012; 7 (2)
  • Evaluating the Contribution of Weather to Maize and Wheat Yield Trends in 12 US Counties AGRONOMY JOURNAL Maltais-Landry, G., Lobell, D. B. 2012; 104 (2): 301-311
  • Extreme heat effects on wheat senescence in India NATURE CLIMATE CHANGE Lobell, D. B., Sibley, A., Ivan Ortiz-Monasterio, J. 2012; 2 (3): 186-189
  • Crop yields in a geoengineered climate NATURE CLIMATE CHANGE Pongratz, J., Lobell, D. B., Cao, L., Caldeira, K. 2012; 2 (2): 101-105
  • Effect of vineyard-scale climate variability on Pinot noir phenolic composition AGRICULTURAL AND FOREST METEOROLOGY Nicholas, K. A., Matthews, M. A., Lobell, D. B., Willits, N. H., Field, C. B. 2011; 151 (12): 1556-1567
  • Climate extremes in California agriculture CLIMATIC CHANGE Lobell, D. B., Torney, A., Field, C. B. 2011; 109: 355-363
  • California perennial crops in a changing climate CLIMATIC CHANGE Lobell, D. B., Field, C. B. 2011; 109: 317-333
  • COMMENTARY: A walk on the wild side NATURE CLIMATE CHANGE Guarino, L., Lobell, D. B. 2011; 1 (8): 374-375
  • An independent method of deriving the carbon dioxide fertilization effect in dry conditions using historical yield data from wet and dry years GLOBAL CHANGE BIOLOGY McGrath, J. M., Lobell, D. B. 2011; 17 (8): 2689-2696
  • Climate Trends and Global Crop Production Since 1980 SCIENCE Lobell, D. B., Schlenker, W., Costa-Roberts, J. 2011; 333 (6042): 616-620


    Efforts to anticipate how climate change will affect future food availability can benefit from understanding the impacts of changes to date. We found that in the cropping regions and growing seasons of most countries, with the important exception of the United States, temperature trends from 1980 to 2008 exceeded one standard deviation of historic year-to-year variability. Models that link yields of the four largest commodity crops to weather indicate that global maize and wheat production declined by 3.8 and 5.5%, respectively, relative to a counterfactual without climate trends. For soybeans and rice, winners and losers largely balanced out. Climate trends were large enough in some countries to offset a significant portion of the increases in average yields that arose from technology, carbon dioxide fertilization, and other factors.

    View details for DOI 10.1126/science.1204531

    View details for Web of Science ID 000293222400058

    View details for PubMedID 21551030

  • Direct impacts on local climate of sugar-cane expansion in Brazil NATURE CLIMATE CHANGE Loarie, S. R., Lobell, D. B., Asner, G. P., Mu, Q., Field, C. B. 2011; 1 (2): 105-109
  • Climate variability and crop production in Tanzania AGRICULTURAL AND FOREST METEOROLOGY Rowhani, P., Lobell, D. B., Linderman, M., Ramankutty, N. 2011; 151 (4): 449-460
  • Nonlinear heat effects on African maize as evidenced by historical yield trials NATURE CLIMATE CHANGE Lobell, D. B., Baenziger, M., Magorokosho, C., Vivek, B. 2011; 1 (1): 42-45
  • Direct climate effects of perennial bioenergy crops in the United States PROCEEDINGS OF THE NATIONAL ACADEMY OF SCIENCES OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA Georgescu, M., Lobell, D. B., Field, C. B. 2011; 108 (11): 4307-4312


    Biomass-derived energy offers the potential to increase energy security while mitigating anthropogenic climate change, but a successful path toward increased production requires a thorough accounting of costs and benefits. Until recently, the efficacy of biomass-derived energy has focused primarily on biogeochemical consequences. Here we show that the biogeophysical effects that result from hypothetical conversion of annual to perennial bioenergy crops across the central United States impart a significant local to regional cooling with considerable implications for the reservoir of stored soil water. This cooling effect is related mainly to local increases in transpiration, but also to higher albedo. The reduction in radiative forcing from albedo alone is equivalent to a carbon emissions reduction of , which is six times larger than the annual biogeochemical effects that arise from offsetting fossil fuel use. Thus, in the near-term, the biogeophysical effects are an important aspect of climate impacts of biofuels, even at the global scale. Locally, the simulated cooling is sufficiently large to partially offset projected warming due to increasing greenhouse gases over the next few decades. These results demonstrate that a thorough evaluation of costs and benefits of bioenergy-related land-use change must include potential impacts on the surface energy and water balance to comprehensively address important concerns for local, regional, and global climate change.

    View details for DOI 10.1073/pnas.1008779108

    View details for Web of Science ID 000288450900015

    View details for PubMedID 21368189

  • Satellite-Based Detection of Salinity and Sodicity Impacts on Wheat Production in the Mexicali Valley SOIL SCIENCE SOCIETY OF AMERICA JOURNAL Seifert, C., Ortiz-Monasterio, J. I., Lobell, D. B. 2011; 75 (2): 699-707
  • Land-Cover and Surface Water Change Drive Large Albedo Increases in South America EARTH INTERACTIONS Loarie, S. R., Lobell, D. B., Asner, G. P., Field, C. B. 2011; 15
  • Climate volatility and poverty vulnerability in Tanzania GLOBAL ENVIRONMENTAL CHANGE-HUMAN AND POLICY DIMENSIONS Ahmed, S. A., Diffenbaugh, N. S., Hertel, T. W., Lobell, D. B., Ramankutty, N., Rios, A. R., Rowhani, P. 2011; 21 (1): 46-55
  • An independent method for deriving the carbon fertilization effect using historical yield data from wet and dry years Global Change Biology McGrath, J. M., Lobell, D. B. 2011
  • Agriculture Research and Management at the Field Scale Seeds of Sustainability: Lessons from the Birthplace of the Green Revolution in Agriculture Ortiz-Manesterio, I., Lobell, D. B. edited by Matson, P. A. Island Press. 2011: 139–170
  • On the use of statistical models to predict crop yield responses to climate change AGRICULTURAL AND FOREST METEOROLOGY Lobell, D. B., Burke, M. B. 2010; 150 (11): 1443-1452
  • The poverty implications of climate-induced crop yield changes by 2030 GLOBAL ENVIRONMENTAL CHANGE-HUMAN AND POLICY DIMENSIONS Hertel, T. W., Burke, M. B., Lobell, D. B. 2010; 20 (4): 577-585
  • Satellite evidence for yield growth opportunities in Northwest India FIELD CROPS RESEARCH Lobell, D. B., Ivan Ortiz-Monasterio, J., Lee, A. S. 2010; 118 (1): 13-20
  • Greenhouse gas mitigation by agricultural intensification PROCEEDINGS OF THE NATIONAL ACADEMY OF SCIENCES OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA Burney, J. A., Davis, S. J., Lobell, D. B. 2010; 107 (26): 12052-12057


    As efforts to mitigate climate change increase, there is a need to identify cost-effective ways to avoid emissions of greenhouse gases (GHGs). Agriculture is rightly recognized as a source of considerable emissions, with concomitant opportunities for mitigation. Although future agricultural productivity is critical, as it will shape emissions from conversion of native landscapes to food and biofuel crops, investment in agricultural research is rarely mentioned as a mitigation strategy. Here we estimate the net effect on GHG emissions of historical agricultural intensification between 1961 and 2005. We find that while emissions from factors such as fertilizer production and application have increased, the net effect of higher yields has avoided emissions of up to 161 gigatons of carbon (GtC) (590 GtCO(2)e) since 1961. We estimate that each dollar invested in agricultural yields has resulted in 68 fewer kgC (249 kgCO(2)e) emissions relative to 1961 technology ($14.74/tC, or approximately $4/tCO(2)e), avoiding 3.6 GtC (13.1 GtCO(2)e) per year. Our analysis indicates that investment in yield improvements compares favorably with other commonly proposed mitigation strategies. Further yield improvements should therefore be prominent among efforts to reduce future GHG emissions.

    View details for DOI 10.1073/pnas.0914216107

    View details for Web of Science ID 000279332300071

    View details for PubMedID 20551223

  • Radically Rethinking Agriculture for the 21st Century SCIENCE Fedoroff, N. V., Battisti, D. S., Beachy, R. N., Cooper, P. J., FISCHHOFF, D. A., Hodges, C. N., Knauf, V. C., Lobell, D., Mazur, B. J., Molden, D., Reynolds, M. P., Ronald, P. C., Rosegrant, M. W., Sanchez, P. A., Vonshak, A., Zhu, J. 2010; 327 (5967): 833-834


    Population growth, arable land and fresh water limits, and climate change have profound implications for the ability of agriculture to meet this century's demands for food, feed, fiber, and fuel while reducing the environmental impact of their production. Success depends on the acceptance and use of contemporary molecular techniques, as well as the increasing development of farming systems that use saline water and integrate nutrient flows.

    View details for DOI 10.1126/science.1186834

    View details for Web of Science ID 000274408300051

    View details for PubMedID 20150494

  • Narrowing the agronomic yield gap with improved nitrogen use efficiency: a modeling approach ECOLOGICAL APPLICATIONS Ahrens, T. D., Lobell, D. B., Ortiz-Monasterio, J. I., Li, Y., Matson, P. A. 2010; 20 (1): 91-100


    Improving nitrogen use efficiency (NUE) in the major cereals is critical for more sustainable nitrogen use in high-input agriculture, but our understanding of the potential for NUE improvement is limited by a paucity of reliable on-farm measurements. Limited on-farm data suggest that agronomic NUE (AE(N)) is lower and more variable than data from trials conducted at research stations, on which much of our understanding of AE(N) has been built. The purpose of this study was to determine the magnitude and causes of variability in AE(N) across an agricultural region, which we refer to as the achievement distribution of AE(N). The distribution of simulated AE(N) in 80 farmers' fields in an irrigated wheat system in the Yaqui Valley, Mexico, was compared with trials at a local research center (International Wheat and Maize Improvement Center; CIMMYT). An agroecosystem simulation model WNMM was used to understand factors controlling yield, AE(N), gaseous N emissions, and nitrate leaching in the region. Simulated AE(N) in the Yaqui Valley was highly variable, and mean on-farm AE(N) was 44% lower than trials with similar fertilization rates at CIMMYT. Variability in residual N supply was the most important factor determining simulated AE(N). Better split applications of N fertilizer led to almost a doubling of AE(N), increased profit, and reduced N pollution, and even larger improvements were possible with technologies that allow for direct measurement of soil N supply and plant N demand, such as site-specific nitrogen management.

    View details for Web of Science ID 000275358100007

    View details for PubMedID 20349832

  • Climate change impacts on food security and nutrition United Nations' SCN News Ebi, K. L., Lobell, D. B., Field, C. B. 2010; 38: 11-17
  • Climate Change and Food Security: Adapting Agriculture to a Warmer World Advances in Global Change Research edited by Lobell, D., Burke, M. Springer. 2010; 37
  • Remote Sensing of Soil Degradation: Introduction JOURNAL OF ENVIRONMENTAL QUALITY Lobell, D. B. 2010; 39 (1): 1-4


    In the 21st century, mapping and monitoring the occurrence of soil degradation will be an important component of successful land management. Remote sensing, with its unique ability to measure across space and time, will be an increasingly indispensible tool for assessing degradation. However, much of the recent experience and progress in using remote sensing and other geospatial technologies to map soil degradation is reported outside of the peer-reviewed literature. This motivated the organization of a special collection of papers focused on remote sensing of soil degradation, to highlight recent successes, common challenges, and promising new approaches. This introductory paper provides an overview of the papers, gaps in knowledge, and future research directions. Across several regions and types of degradation, many assessments to date have relied heavily on data from the Landsat satellite sensor. Many approaches have also relied at some point on subjective visual interpretation, either of the satellite imagery itself or to provide field data used to train models that use satellite data. While subjectivity is not necessarily bad, it precludes repeatability and makes it even more important to rigorously test model estimates with independent data. Overall, it remains quite challenging to find robust relationships between remote sensing measures and soil degradation, particularly for slight to moderate levels of degradation. There have nonetheless been some clear successes, and there remains great potential for progress. Promising directions outlined in the papers include using multi-year measures of vegetation condition, combining different sensor systems including optical and radar data, and using advanced statistical techniques such as Bayesian networks and decision trees.

    View details for DOI 10.2134/jeq2009.0326

    View details for Web of Science ID 000273579300001

    View details for PubMedID 20048288

  • Regional-scale Assessment of Soil Salinity in the Red River Valley Using Multi-year MODIS EVI and NDVI JOURNAL OF ENVIRONMENTAL QUALITY Lobell, D. B., Lesch, S. M., Corwin, D. L., Ulmer, M. G., Anderson, K. A., Potts, D. J., Doolittle, J. A., Matos, M. R., Baltes, M. J. 2010; 39 (1): 35-41


    The ability to inventory and map soil salinity at regional scales remains a significant challenge to scientists concerned with the salinization of agricultural soils throughout the world. Previous attempts to use satellite or aerial imagery to assess soil salinity have found limited success in part because of the inability of methods to isolate the effects of soil salinity on vegetative growth from other factors. This study evaluated the use of Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) imagery in conjunction with directed soil sampling to assess and map soil salinity at a regional scale (i.e., 10-10(5) km(2)) in a parsimonious manner. Correlations with three soil salinity ground truth datasets differing in scale were made in Kittson County within the Red River Valley (RRV) of North Dakota and Minnesota, an area where soil salinity assessment is a top priority for the Natural Resource Conservation Service (NRCS). Multi-year MODIS imagery was used to mitigate the influence of temporally dynamic factors such as weather, pests, disease, and management influences. The average of the MODIS enhanced vegetation index (EVI) for a 7-yr period exhibited a strong relationship with soil salinity in all three datasets, and outperformed the normalized difference vegetation index (NDVI). One-third to one-half of the spatial variability in soil salinity could be captured by measuring average MODIS EVI and whether the land qualified for the Conservation Reserve Program (a USDA program that sets aside marginally productive land based on conservation principles). The approach has the practical simplicity to allow broad application in areas where limited resources are available for salinity assessment.

    View details for DOI 10.2134/jeq2009.0140

    View details for Web of Science ID 000273579300005

    View details for PubMedID 20048292

  • Robust negative impacts of climate change on African agriculture ENVIRONMENTAL RESEARCH LETTERS Schlenker, W., Lobell, D. B. 2010; 5 (1)
  • Warming increases the risk of civil war in Africa PROCEEDINGS OF THE NATIONAL ACADEMY OF SCIENCES OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA Burke, M. B., Miguel, E., Satyanath, S., Dykema, J. A., Lobell, D. B. 2009; 106 (49): 20670-20674


    Armed conflict within nations has had disastrous humanitarian consequences throughout much of the world. Here we undertake the first comprehensive examination of the potential impact of global climate change on armed conflict in sub-Saharan Africa. We find strong historical linkages between civil war and temperature in Africa, with warmer years leading to significant increases in the likelihood of war. When combined with climate model projections of future temperature trends, this historical response to temperature suggests a roughly 54% increase in armed conflict incidence by 2030, or an additional 393,000 battle deaths if future wars are as deadly as recent wars. Our results suggest an urgent need to reform African governments' and foreign aid donors' policies to deal with rising temperatures.

    View details for DOI 10.1073/pnas.0907998106

    View details for Web of Science ID 000272553000024

    View details for PubMedID 19934048

  • Potential impact of US biofuels on regional climate GEOPHYSICAL RESEARCH LETTERS Georgescu, M., Lobell, D. B., Field, C. B. 2009; 36
  • Shifts in African crop climates by 2050, and the implications for crop improvement and genetic resources conservation GLOBAL ENVIRONMENTAL CHANGE-HUMAN AND POLICY DIMENSIONS Burke, M. B., Lobell, D. B., Guarino, L. 2009; 19 (3): 317-325
  • Greater Transportation Energy and GHG Offsets from Bioelectricity Than Ethanol SCIENCE Campbell, J. E., Lobell, D. B., Field, C. B. 2009; 324 (5930): 1055-1057


    The quantity of land available to grow biofuel crops without affecting food prices or greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from land conversion is limited. Therefore, bioenergy should maximize land-use efficiency when addressing transportation and climate change goals. Biomass could power either internal combustion or electric vehicles, but the relative land-use efficiency of these two energy pathways is not well quantified. Here, we show that bioelectricity outperforms ethanol across a range of feedstocks, conversion technologies, and vehicle classes. Bioelectricity produces an average of 81% more transportation kilometers and 108% more emissions offsets per unit area of cropland than does cellulosic ethanol. These results suggest that alternative bioenergy pathways have large differences in how efficiently they use the available land to achieve transportation and climate goals.

    View details for DOI 10.1126/science.1168885

    View details for Web of Science ID 000266246700037

    View details for PubMedID 19423776

  • Regional Differences in the Influence of Irrigation on Climate JOURNAL OF CLIMATE Lobell, D., Bala, G., Mirin, A., Phillips, T., Maxwell, R., Rotman, D. 2009; 22 (8): 2248-2255
  • Crop Yield Gaps: Their Importance, Magnitudes, and Causes ANNUAL REVIEW OF ENVIRONMENT AND RESOURCES Lobell, D. B., Cassman, K. G., Field, C. B. 2009; 34: 179-204
  • The global potential of bioenergy on abandoned agriculture lands ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCE & TECHNOLOGY Campbell, J. E., Lobell, D. B., Genova, R. C., Field, C. B. 2008; 42 (15): 5791-5794


    Converting forest lands into bioenergy agriculture could accelerate climate change by emitting carbon stored in forests, while converting food agriculture lands into bioenergy agriculture could threaten food security. Both problems are potentially avoided by using abandoned agriculture lands for bioenergy agriculture. Here we show the global potential for bioenergy on abandoned agriculture lands to be less than 8% of current primary energy demand, based on historical land use data, satellite-derived land cover data, and global ecosystem modeling. The estimated global area of abandoned agriculture is 385-472 million hectares, or 66-110% of the areas reported in previous preliminary assessments. The area-weighted mean production of above-ground biomass is 4.3 tons ha(-1) y(-1), in contrast to estimates of up to 10 tons ha(-1) y(-1) in previous assessments. The energy content of potential biomass grown on 100% of abandoned agriculture lands is less than 10% of primary energy demand for most nations in North America, Europe, and Asia, but it represents many times the energy demand in some African nations where grasslands are relatively productive and current energy demand is low.

    View details for DOI 10.1021/es800052w

    View details for Web of Science ID 000258075100065

    View details for PubMedID 18754510

  • Satellite monitoring of yield responses to irrigation practices across thousands of fields AGRONOMY JOURNAL Lobell, D. B., Ortiz-Monasterio, J. I. 2008; 100 (4): 1005-1012
  • Why are agricultural impacts of climate change so uncertain? The importance of temperature relative to precipitation ENVIRONMENTAL RESEARCH LETTERS Lobell, D. B., Burke, M. B. 2008; 3 (3)
  • The effect of irrigation on regional temperatures: A spatial and temporal analysis of trends in California, 1934-2002 JOURNAL OF CLIMATE Lobell, D. B., Bonfils, C. 2008; 21 (10): 2063-2071
  • Irrigation cooling effect on temperature and heat index extremes GEOPHYSICAL RESEARCH LETTERS Lobell, D. B., Bonfils, C. J., Kueppers, L. M., Snyder, M. A. 2008; 35 (9)
  • Towards probabilistic projections of climate change impacts on global crop yields GEOPHYSICAL RESEARCH LETTERS Tebaldi, C., Lobell, D. B. 2008; 35 (8)
  • Identification of external influences on temperatures in California CLIMATIC CHANGE Bonfils, C., Duffy, P. B., Santer, B. D., Wigley, T. M., Lobell, D. B., Phillips, T. J., Doutriaux, C. 2008; 87: S43-S55
  • Biomass energy: the scale of the potential resource TRENDS IN ECOLOGY & EVOLUTION Field, C. B., Campbell, J. E., Lobell, D. B. 2008; 23 (2): 65-72


    Increased production of biomass for energy has the potential to offset substantial use of fossil fuels, but it also has the potential to threaten conservation areas, pollute water resources and decrease food security. The net effect of biomass energy agriculture on climate could be either cooling or warming, depending on the crop, the technology for converting biomass into useable energy, and the difference in carbon stocks and reflectance of solar radiation between the biomass crop and the pre-existing vegetation. The area with the greatest potential for yielding biomass energy that reduces net warming and avoids competition with food production is land that was previously used for agriculture or pasture but that has been abandoned and not converted to forest or urban areas. At the global scale, potential above-ground plant growth on these abandoned lands has an energy content representing approximately 5% of world primary energy consumption in 2006. The global potential for biomass energy production is large in absolute terms, but it is not enough to replace more than a few percent of current fossil fuel usage. Increasing biomass energy production beyond this level would probably reduce food security and exacerbate forcing of climate change.

    View details for DOI 10.1016/j.tree.2007.12.001

    View details for Web of Science ID 000253620000004

    View details for PubMedID 18215439

  • Prioritizing climate change adaptation needs for food security in 2030 SCIENCE Lobell, D. B., Burke, M. B., Tebaldi, C., Mastrandrea, M. D., Falcon, W. P., Naylor, R. L. 2008; 319 (5863): 607-610


    Investments aimed at improving agricultural adaptation to climate change inevitably favor some crops and regions over others. An analysis of climate risks for crops in 12 food-insecure regions was conducted to identify adaptation priorities, based on statistical crop models and climate projections for 2030 from 20 general circulation models. Results indicate South Asia and Southern Africa as two regions that, without sufficient adaptation measures, will likely suffer negative impacts on several crops that are important to large food-insecure human populations. We also find that uncertainties vary widely by crop, and therefore priorities will depend on the risk attitudes of investment institutions.

    View details for DOI 10.1126/science.1152339

    View details for Web of Science ID 000252772000037

    View details for PubMedID 18239122

  • The role of irrigation expansion in past and future temperature trends EARTH INTERACTIONS Lobell, D. B., Bonfils, C., Faures, J. 2008; 12: 1-11
  • Identification of external influences on temperatures in California Nature Clim. Change Bonfils, C., Duffy, P., Santer, B., Wigley, T., Lobell, D., Phillips, T., Doutriaux, C. 2008; 10

    View details for DOI 1007/s10584-007-9374-9

  • Managing Global Climate Change An Executive Interview with David Lobell INTERNATIONAL FOOD AND AGRIBUSINESS MANAGEMENT REVIEW Jose, H. D., Lobell, D. 2008; 11 (3): 188-191
  • Estimation of the carbon dioxide (CO2) fertilization effect using growth rate anomalies of CO2 and crop yields since 1961 GLOBAL CHANGE BIOLOGY Lobell, D. B., Field, C. B. 2008; 14 (1): 39-45
  • Empirical evidence for a recent slowdown in irrigation-induced cooling PROCEEDINGS OF THE NATIONAL ACADEMY OF SCIENCES OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA Bonfils, C., Lobell, D. 2007; 104 (34): 13582-13587


    Understanding the influence of past land use changes on climate is needed to improve regional projections of future climate change and inform debates about the tradeoffs associated with land use decisions. The effects of rapid expansion of irrigated area in the 20th century has remained unclear relative to other land use changes, such as urbanization, that affected a similar total land area. Using spatial and temporal variations in temperature and irrigation extent observed in California, we show that irrigation expansion has had a large cooling effect on summertime average daily daytime temperatures (-0.14 degrees C to -0.25 degrees C per decade), which corresponds to an estimated cooling of -1.8 degrees C to -3.2 degrees C since the introduction of irrigation practices. Irrigation has negligible effects on nighttime temperatures, leading to a net cooling effect of irrigation on climate (-0.06 degrees C to -0.19 degrees C per decade). Stabilization of irrigated area has occurred in California since 1980 and is expected in the near future for many irrigated regions. The suppression of past human-induced greenhouse warming by increased irrigation is therefore likely to slow in the future, and a potential decrease in irrigation may even contribute to a more rapid warming. Changes in irrigation alone are not expected to influence broad-scale temperatures, but they may introduce large uncertainties in climate projections for irrigated agricultural regions, which provide approximately 40% of global food production.

    View details for Web of Science ID 000249064700012

    View details for PubMedID 17698963

  • Identification of saline soils with multiyear remote sensing of crop yields SOIL SCIENCE SOCIETY OF AMERICA JOURNAL Lobell, D. B., Ortiz-Monasterio, J. I., Gurrola, F. C., Valenzuela, L. 2007; 71 (3): 777-783
  • Combined climate and carbon-cycle effects of large-scale deforestation PROCEEDINGS OF THE NATIONAL ACADEMY OF SCIENCES OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA Bala, G., Caldeira, K., Wickett, M., Phillips, T. J., Lobell, D. B., Delire, C., Mirin, A. 2007; 104 (16): 6550-6555


    The prevention of deforestation and promotion of afforestation have often been cited as strategies to slow global warming. Deforestation releases CO(2) to the atmosphere, which exerts a warming influence on Earth's climate. However, biophysical effects of deforestation, which include changes in land surface albedo, evapotranspiration, and cloud cover also affect climate. Here we present results from several large-scale deforestation experiments performed with a three-dimensional coupled global carbon-cycle and climate model. These simulations were performed by using a fully three-dimensional model representing physical and biogeochemical interactions among land, atmosphere, and ocean. We find that global-scale deforestation has a net cooling influence on Earth's climate, because the warming carbon-cycle effects of deforestation are overwhelmed by the net cooling associated with changes in albedo and evapotranspiration. Latitude-specific deforestation experiments indicate that afforestation projects in the tropics would be clearly beneficial in mitigating global-scale warming, but would be counterproductive if implemented at high latitudes and would offer only marginal benefits in temperate regions. Although these results question the efficacy of mid- and high-latitude afforestation projects for climate mitigation, forests remain environmentally valuable resources for many reasons unrelated to climate.

    View details for DOI 10.1073/pnas.0608998104

    View details for Web of Science ID 000245869200013

    View details for PubMedID 17420463

  • Climate change uncertainty for daily minimum and maximum temperatures: A model inter-comparison GEOPHYSICAL RESEARCH LETTERS Lobell, D. B., Bonfils, C., Duffy, P. B. 2007; 34 (5)
  • Historical effects of temperature and precipitation on California crop yields CLIMATIC CHANGE Lobell, D. B., Cahill, K. N., Field, C. B. 2007; 81 (2): 187-203
  • Impacts of day versus night temperatures on spring wheat yields: A comparison of empirical and CERES model predictions in three locations AGRONOMY JOURNAL Lobell, D. B., Ortiz-Monasterio, J. I. 2007; 99 (2): 469-477
  • Remote sensing assessment of regional yield losses due to sub-optimal planting dates and fallow period weed management FIELD CROPS RESEARCH Ortiz-Monasterio, J. I., Lobell, D. B. 2007; 101 (1): 80-87
  • Feedbacks of terrestrial ecosystems to climate change ANNUAL REVIEW OF ENVIRONMENT AND RESOURCES Field, C. B., Lobell, D. B., Peters, H. A., Chiariello, N. R. 2007; 32: 1-29
  • Comments on "Methodology and Results of Calculating Central California Surface Temperature Trends: Evidence of Human-Induced Climate Change?" J. Climate Bonfils, C., Duffy, P., Lobell, D. 2007; 20: 4486-4489
  • Changes in diurnal temperature range and national cereal yields Agricultural and Forest Meteorology Lobell, D. B. 2007; 145: 229-238
  • Identification of Saline Soils with Multiyear Remote Sensing of Crop Yields Soil Science Society of America Journal Lobell, D. B., Ortiz-Monasterio, J. I., Gurrola, F. C., Valenzuela, L. 2007; 71: 777-783
  • The cost of uncertainty for nitrogen fertilizer management: A sensitivity analysis Field Crops Research Lobell, D. B. 2007; 100: 210-217
  • Yield uncertainty at the field scale evaluated with multi-year satellite data AGRICULTURAL SYSTEMS Lobell, D. B., Ortiz-Monasterio, J. I., Falcon, W. P. 2007; 92 (1-3): 76-90
  • Global scale climate - crop yield relationships and the impacts of recent warming ENVIRONMENTAL RESEARCH LETTERS Lobell, D. B., Field, C. B. 2007; 2 (1)
  • Impacts of future climate change on California perennial crop yields: Model projections with climate and crop uncertainties AGRICULTURAL AND FOREST METEOROLOGY Lobell, D. B., Field, C. B., Cahill, K. N., Bonfils, C. 2006; 141 (2-4): 208-218
  • Evaluating strategies for improved water use in spring wheat with CERES AGRICULTURAL WATER MANAGEMENT Lobell, D. B., Ortiz-Monasterio, J. I. 2006; 84 (3): 249-258
  • Potential bias of model projected greenhouse warming in irrigated regions GEOPHYSICAL RESEARCH LETTERS Lobell, D. B., Bala, G., Bonfils, C., Duffy, P. B. 2006; 33 (13)
  • Regional importance of crop yield constraints: Linking simulation models and geostatistics to interpret spatial patterns ECOLOGICAL MODELLING Lobell, D. B., Ortiz-Monasterio, J. I. 2006; 196 (1-2): 173-182
  • Biogeophysical impacts of cropland management changes on climate GEOPHYSICAL RESEARCH LETTERS Lobell, D. B., Bala, G., Duffy, P. B. 2006; 33 (6)
  • Analysis of wheat yield and climatic trends in Mexico FIELD CROPS RESEARCH Lobell, D. B., Ortiz-Monasterio, J. I., Asner, G. P., Matson, P. A., Naylor, R. L., Falcon, W. P. 2005; 94 (2-3): 250-256
  • Combining field surveys, remote sensing, and regression trees to understand yield variations in an irrigated wheat landscape AGRONOMY JOURNAL Lobell, D. B., Ortiz-Monasterio, J. I., Asner, G. P., Naylor, R. L., Falcon, W. P. 2005; 97 (1): 241-249
  • Cropland distributions from temporal unmixing of MODIS data REMOTE SENSING OF ENVIRONMENT Lobell, D. B., Asner, G. P. 2004; 93 (3): 412-422
  • Spatiotemporal patterns of cropland area and net primary production in the central United States estimated from USDA agricultural information GEOPHYSICAL RESEARCH LETTERS Hicke, J. A., Lobell, D. B. 2004; 31 (20)
  • Relative importance of soil and climate variability for nitrogen management in irrigated wheat FIELD CROPS RESEARCH Lobell, D. B., Ortiz-Monasterio, J. I., Asner, G. P. 2004; 87 (2-3): 155-165
  • Cropland Area and Net Primary Production Computed from 30 Years of USDA Agricultural Harvest Data EARTH INTERACTIONS Hicke, J. A., Lobell, D. B., Asner, G. P. 2004; 8
  • A method for quantifying vulnerability, applied to the agricultural system of the Yaqui Valley, Mexico GLOBAL ENVIRONMENTAL CHANGE-HUMAN AND POLICY DIMENSIONS Luers, A. L., Lobell, D. B., Sklar, L. S., Addams, C. L., Matson, P. A. 2003; 13 (4): 255-267
  • Response to comment on "Climate and management contributions to recent trends in US agricultural yields" SCIENCE Lobell, D., Asner, G. 2003; 300 (5625)
  • Comparison of Earth Observing-1 ALI and Landsat ETM+ for crop identification and yield prediction in Mexico IEEE TRANSACTIONS ON GEOSCIENCE AND REMOTE SENSING Lobell, D. B., Asner, G. P. 2003; 41 (6): 1277-1282
  • Climate and management contributions to recent trends in US agricultural yields SCIENCE Lobell, D. B., Asner, G. P. 2003; 299 (5609): 1032-1032

    View details for Web of Science ID 000180960000036

    View details for PubMedID 12586935

  • Remote sensing of regional crop production in the Yaqui Valley, Mexico: estimates and uncertainties AGRICULTURE ECOSYSTEMS & ENVIRONMENT Lobell, D. B., Asner, G. P., Ortiz-Monasterio, J. I., Benning, T. L. 2003; 94 (2): 205-220
  • Soil, climate, and management impacts on regional wheat productivity in Mexico from remote sensing AGRICULTURAL AND FOREST METEOROLOGY Lobell, D. B., Ortiz-Monasterio, J. I., Addams, C. L., Asner, G. P. 2002; 114 (1-2): 31-43
  • Satellite estimates of productivity and light use efficiency in United States agriculture, 1982-98 GLOBAL CHANGE BIOLOGY Lobell, D. B., Hicke, J. A., Asner, G. P., Field, C. B., Tucker, C. J., Los, S. O. 2002; 8 (8): 722-735
  • View angle effects on canopy reflectance and spectral mixture analysis of coniferous forests using AVIRIS INTERNATIONAL JOURNAL OF REMOTE SENSING Lobell, D. B., Asner, G. P., Law, B. E., Treuhaft, R. N. 2002; 23 (11): 2247-2262
  • Moisture effects on soil reflectance SOIL SCIENCE SOCIETY OF AMERICA JOURNAL Lobell, D. B., Asner, G. P. 2002; 66 (3): 722-727
  • Subpixel canopy cover estimation of coniferous forests in Oregon using SWIR imaging spectrometry JOURNAL OF GEOPHYSICAL RESEARCH-ATMOSPHERES Lobell, D. B., Asner, G. P., Law, B. E., Treuhaft, R. N. 2001; 106 (D6): 5151-5160
  • A biogeophysical approach for automated SWIR unmixing of soils and vegetation REMOTE SENSING OF ENVIRONMENT Asner, G. P., Lobell, D. B. 2000; 74 (1): 99-112