A warming trend has become pronounced since the 1980s in China and is projected to accelerate in the future. Concerns about the vulnerability of agricultural production to climate change are increasing. The impact of future climate change on crop production has been widely predicted by using crop models and climate change scenarios, but little evidence of the observed impacts of climate change on crop production has been reported. In this study, we synthesized crop and climate data from representative stations across China during 1981-2000 to investigate whether there were significant trends in changes of climate variables in different regions, and whether theses changes have had significant impact on the development and production of the staple crops (i.e. rice, wheat, and maize). Our results showed that significant warming trends were observed at most of the investigated stations, and the changes in temperature have shifted crop phenology and affected crop yields during the two decades. The observed climate change patterns, as well their impacts on crop phenology and yields are spatially diverse across China. Our study also highlights the need for further investigations of the combined impacts of temperature and CO2 concentration on physiological processes and mechanisms governing crop growth and production.
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