Malawi, climate change, rainfed corn, gcms, lars wg, aquacrop, lilongwe district


Agriculture is the mainstay of the economy in Malawi and accounts for 40% of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and 90% of the export revenues. Corn (maize) is the major cereal crop grown as staple food under rainfed conditions, covers over 92% of the total agricultural area, and contributes 54% of the caloric intake. Corn production is the principle occupation and major source of income for over 85% of the total population in Malawi. Issues of hunger and food insecurity for the entire nation are associated with corn scarcity and low production. Global warming is expected to cause climate change in Malawi, including changes in temperature and precipitation amounts and patterns. These climate changes are expected to affect corn production in Malawi. This study evaluates the impacts of climate change on rainfed corn production in Malawi. Lilongwe District, with about 1,045 square miles of agriculture area, has been selected as a representative area. First, outputs of 15 General Circulation Models (GCMs) under different emission scenarios are statistically downscaled. For this purpose, a weather generator (LARSWG) is calibrated and validated for the study area and daily precipitation as well as minimum and maximum temperature are projected for 15 GCMs for three time horizons of 2020s, 2050s and 2090s. Probability assessment of bounded range with known distributions is used to deal with the uncertainties of GCMs’ outputs. These GCMs outputs are weighted by considering the ability of each model to simulate historical records. AquaCrop, a new model developed by FAO that simulates the crop yield response to water deficit conditions, is employed to assess potential rainfed corn production in the study area with and without climate change. Study results indicate an average temperature increase of 0.52 to 0.94oC, 1.26 to 2.20oC and 1.78 to 3.58oC in the nearterm (2020s), mid-term (2050s) and long-term (2090s) future, respectively. The expected changes in precipitation during these periods are -17 to 11%, -26 to 0%, and -29 to -3%. Corn iii yields are expected to change by -8.11 to 0.53%, -7.25 to -14.33%, and -13.19 to -31.86%, during the same time periods. The study concludes with suggestion of some adaptation strategies that the Government of Malawi could consider to improve national food security under climate change.


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Graduation Date





Madani Larijani, Kaveh


Master of Science (M.S.)


College of Engineering and Computer Science


Civil, Environmental, and Construction Engineering

Degree Program

Civil Engineering; Water Resources Engineering








Release Date

December 2013

Length of Campus-only Access


Access Status

Masters Thesis (Open Access)


Dissertations, Academic -- Engineering and Computer Science, Engineering and Computer Science -- Dissertations, Academic