Temperate grasslands play globally an important role, for example, for biodiversity conservation, livestock forage production, and carbon storage. The latter two are primarily controlled by biomass production, which is assumed to decrease with lower amounts and higher variability of precipitation, while increasing air temperature might either foster or suppress biomass production. Additionally, a higher atmospheric CO2 concentration ([CO2]) is supposed to increase biomass productivity either by directly stimulating photosynthesis or indirectly by inducing water savings (CO2 fertilization effect). Consequently, future biomass productivity is controlled by the partially contrasting effects of changing climatic conditions and [CO2], which to date are only marginally understood. This results in high uncertainties of future biomass production and carbon storage estimates. Consequently, this study aims at statistically estimating mid-21st century grassland aboveground biomass (AGB) based on 18 years of data (1998–2015) from a free air carbon enrichment experiment. We found that lower precipitation totals and a higher precipitation variability reduced AGB. Under drier conditions accompanied by increasing air temperature, AGB further decreased. Here AGB under elevated [CO2] was partly even lower compared to AGB under ambient [CO2], probably because elevated [CO2] reduced evaporative cooling of plants, increasing heat stress. This indicates a higher susceptibility of AGB to increased air temperature under future atmospheric [CO2]. Since climate models for Central Europe project increasing air temperature and decreasing total summer precipitation associated with an increasing variability, our results suggest that grassland summer AGB will be reduced in the
future, contradicting the widely expected positive yield anomalies from increasing [CO2].