Adaptation in Agricultural Systems

Working Group Leader:

Dr. Christoph Gornott
phone: +49 (0)331 288 2655

Resilient agricultural development

How to establish a resilient farming system in the tropics? – In the face of climate change, farming conditions, in particular in tropical and developing regions, will become more challenging. Because of this, smart adaptation measures are needed to help farmers cope with climate perils. PIK’s working group on “Adaptation in agricultural systems” conducts climate impact modelling and analysis that covers the spectrum of climate risk and resilience in agricultural systems. It ranges from risk monitoring, through analysis and forecasting of weather and yields, over risk management, via identification, assessment and recommendation of adaptation options, to the design of effective risk transfer mechanisms and insurance solutions. This approach to analysing the climate impact chain aims to inform adaptation policies and private sector investments for a resilient, low-carbon and sustainable agricultural development in the face of climate change.

The effect of climate change on weather patterns and crop production is analysed using biophysical impact modelling and (sub-) seasonal forecasts. This is complemented by economic evaluation and socio-ecological, qualitative analysis. The group is composed of crop modellers, meteorologists, climate physicists, agricultural economists and regional experts. A key focus of the group centres on crop modelling, with crop modellers continuously developing, calibrating and adapting a range of process-based, mechanistic and statistical models, such as the AMPLIFY model developed at PIK (AMPLIFY: Agricultural Model for Production Loss Identification to Insure Failures of Yields). This allows for the development and improvement of indices for crop insurances, a specific application of the group’s combined expertise. For dissemination and further uptake of its research, group members engage with different stakeholders from the public and private sectors, such as representatives from agricultural ministries or insurance companies. With a focus on the developing world, the research currently spans over three continents, with projects in East and West Africa (Tanzania, Kenya, Ethiopia, Burkina Faso, Ghana, Niger, Mali), Latin America (Peru) and Asia (India, Central Asia).

Further information:
Risk monitoring:
Forecasting of weather patterns and crop yields

Risk management: Adaptation options

Risk transfer: Insurance solutions

The AMPLIFY model

Research objectives:

  • Developing an agricultural forecasting approach which provides information about crop yields within the current growing season and in-season weather patterns relevant for crop growth.
  • Analysis of the economic implications of climate change and how climate change can hamper a resilient development, e.g. related to food security, planetary health, and rural poverty.
  • Designing insurance solutions as climate adaptation option which supports a resilient agricultural development.
  • Evaluation of agricultural adaptation options to climate change to help farmers stabilizing their food production.


  • Semi-empirical (crop forecasting) models based on statistical relationships, process-based components, causal discovery algorithms and machine learning algorithms techniques which integrate weather and remote sensing satellite data
  • Econometric methods to analyze household survey data and Randomized Control Trials
  • Process-based crop models (e.g. SWIM, LPJmL, DSSAT, APSIM) to capture the bio-physical relationships

Current projects:

  • Agrica_2020: Climate risk analyses for Sub-Saharan Africa [GIZ] (January 2020 - December 2020)
  • CCH PI3: Climate Change and Health in Sub-Saharan Africa - PI_3 Weather-related impacts on crop yields and food production [DFG] (January 2020 - December 2022)
  • C2P2: A Symbiotic Agent-Based Network Platform Linking Expert Knowledge and Machine
    Learning for Systemic Risk Mitigation, [Columbia University ]  (December 2018 - February 2022)
  • ClimSec Sahel: Early Warning System on Human Security in the Sahel Region: Considering Climate Impacts on Food Security and Farmer–Herder Conflicts [Auswärtiges Amt]: (November 2018 -  Dezember 2020)
  • EPICC-East Africa Peru India Climate Capacities [BMU] (January 2018 - February 2021)
  • Geo.X: Integrating remote sensing and mixed social science methods for studying climate impact &
    adaptation in tropical agroecosystems [Deutsches Geoforschungszentrum (GFZ)] (November 2019 - Oktober 2022)
  • GhanAgrica: A district-level case study in Ghana on climate risks and adaptation strategies for the agriculture sector, GIZ, (November 2019 - December 2020)
  • H2020 Insurance: Oasis Innovation Hub for Catastrophe and Climate Extremes Risk Assessment [EU, H2020] (May 2017 - October 2020)

Completed projects:

  • AGRATI_Acc: Agricultural Risk Assessment and Transfer Tool for Insurances (AgRATI) in East Africa [EU, Climate-KIC] (September 2017 – December 2017)
  • AgRATI India: Agricultural Risk Assessment Tool for Insurances (AgRATI) in India [EU, Climate-KIC] (March 2018 – December 2019)
  • Agrica [BMZ, GIZ] (September 2018 - Dezember 2019)
  • CYE: Crop Yield Estimation [MRe] (March 2017 – October 2018)
  • IRMA-YLIT [EU, Climate-KIC] (June 2016 - December 2016)
  • MRe CYE: Secure stable crop yields, funded by Munich Re, 01.03.2017-28.02.2018, contact. Christoph Gornott
  • Trans-SEC - Innovating Strategies to safeguard Food Security using Technology and Knowledge Transfer: A people-centred Approach [BMBF, BMZ] (May 2013 – December 2019)


  • Dr. Christoph Gornott, Working Group Leader, Assessment of regional crop yields and the impacts of climate change on agriculture using and comparing different approaches. Insurance solutions to help farmers coping with climate perils.
  • Felicitas Röhrig, Research Analyst: Adaptation, risk transfer and agricultural insurance; focus on East Africa and Southeast Asia. 
  • Paula AschenbrennerResearch Analyst: Adaptation, climate data analysis, evaluation of model performance; focus on West Africa.
  • Julia Tomalka, Project manager: Climate impact and risk assessment; focus on sub-Saharan Africa.
  • Dr. Abel Chemura, Postdoc scientist: Biophysical crop modeling for impact assessment and adaptations evaluation for designing resilient agricultural systems; focus on tropics and developing regions.
  • Dr. Stephanie Gleixner, Postdoc scientist: Regional climate change in the past and in the future; focus on East Africa and South America.
  • Dr. Lemlem T. Habtemariam, Postdoc scientist: Economic evaluation of adaptation strategies in agriculture, agricultural insurance and climate resilience, econometric methods.
  • Dr. Jascha Lehmann, Postdoc scientist: Subseasonal-to-seasonal weather and crop yield forecasting based on machine-learning techniques and causal discovery algorithms.
  • Dr. Sebastian Ostberg, Postdoc scientist: Gobal yield forcasting, Climate impacts upon the biosphere beyond 2°C global warming; joint climate and land use change effects.
  • Dr. Bernhard Schauberger, Postdoc scientist: Yield estimation and forecasting from remote sensing and weather data; focus on both West Africa and global level.
  • Dr. Roopam Shukla, Postdoc scientist: Remote sensing based vulnerability assessment and adaptation planning in smallholder farming systems; focus on India and Sub-Saharan Africa
  • Dr. Amsalu Woldie Yalew, Postdoc scientist: Modeling the interlinkages between environment and economic development; focus on Africa, Least Developed Countries (LDCs), developing regions and the world.
  • Ponraj Arumugam, PhD student: Assessing crop production using process based modelling and remote sensing over India to support adaptation in agricultural systems.
  • , PhD student: Yield assessments based on statistical approaches and machine learning to support adaptation; focus on Peru and Tanzania.
  • Gina Maskell, PhD student: Mixed spatial and social science methods in assessing climate impacts and adaptation strategies in smallholder agricultural systems.
  • Lisa Murken, PhD student: Land tenure systems and resource governance dynamics, climate change adaptation and agricultural resilience.
  • Stefanie Wesch, PhD student: Climate-Conflict-Migration-Nexus in the MENA region and the Sahel.

For more detailed information on this working group, such as how to participate in projects, please contact: Christoph Gornott (gornott[at]