Wheat Vulnerability

Key messages:

  • Based on an indicator approach, the agricultural sector in relation to future wheat yield faces low to moderate vulnerability overall, due to changing drought impacts
  • Vulnerability is a combination of changing biophysical impacts and the capacity of the agricultural sector to adapt to changing climate conditions
  • Some regions of Central Europe may face high vulnerability to a reduction in yields

Why is the content of this map important?

Wheat represents just under 45% of total cereals production in the EU and is the largest cereal crop relative to the total production. This map combines estimated changes in wheat production with an estimate of the agricultural sector to cope with predicted changing drought conditions, and highlights areas that may be more vulnerable than others.

Which sectors are affected by this result?

Vulnerability of specific crops is most relevant for the agricultural sector, although crop production and extreme events lowering that output can have an impact on consumer prices at regional and world markets.

What is shown on the maps?

These results are a combination of estimates of the difference between current and future wheat yields and the adaptive capacity (AC) of the agricultural sector to cope with increasing drought hazards, producing an index of vulnerability. The vulnerability index was limited to grid cells in which over 5% are currently used for crop production. Lower scores mean little to no future vulnerability, with moderate scores indicating increasing impacts with which farmers can cope. High values indicate possible areas which will be unable to cope with these future changes.

Based on this approach, the most vulnerable areas occur in Central Europe, with Germany specifically having a large number of cells with moderate vulnerability, while regions further west and south are lower.

Details and further information:

As mentioned, this estimate of vulnerability is the combination of biophysical impacts with adaptive capacity. Areas with low impacts and high adaptive capacity receive lower vulnerability scores, increasing as impacts increase and/or AC decreases. AC is estimated via a four capitals indicator approach, which uses three indicators of physical, social, financial, natural, and human capitals. These indicators are then aggregated to form a single AC index, as can be seen in the Atlas map on assessing agricultural AC.

Additional information:

To identify vulnerability, adaptive capacity projected for different regions was combined with potential impacts estimated by the EPIC model. EPIC was driven by the five mandatory climate simulations. Hence, the ensemble consists of 5 simulations in total.

vulnerability categorical values
0-4 4-8 8-12 12-16 16-20
very low low moderate high very high



Keith Williges

International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA)