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Stage-specific, Nonlinear Surface Ozone Damage to Rice Production in China

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China is one of the most heavily polluted nations and is also the largest agricultural producer. There are relatively few studies measuring the effects of pollution on crop yields in China, and most are based on experiments or simulation methods. We use observational data to study the impact of increased air pollution (surface ozone) on rice yields in Southeast China. We examine nonlinearities in the relationship between rice yields and ozone concentrations and find that an additional day with a maximum ozone concentration greater than 120 ppb is associated with a yield loss of 1.12% ± 0.83% relative to a day with maximum ozone concentration less than 60 ppb. We find that increases in mean ozone concentrations, SUM60, and AOT40 during panicle formation are associated with statistically significant yield losses, whereas such increases before and after panicle formation are not. We conclude that heightened surface ozone levels will potentially lead to reductions in rice yields that are large enough to have implications for the global rice market.

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