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Author Topic: Climate Change Impacts - US Agriculture  (Read 4594 times)

Apocalypse4Real

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Climate Change Impacts - US Agriculture
« on: March 07, 2013, 04:50:19 AM »
One area of developing awareness is that the US agricultural contribution to the global food supply is threatened. This became more clear in the recent USDA Climate Change and Agriculture Report.

The link is: http://www.usda.gov/oce/climate_change/effects_2012/CC%20and%20Agriculture%20Report%20%2802-04-2013%29b.pdf

It is a sobering read. The Executive Summary states the following:

Climate Change and Agriculture in the United States:
Effects and Adaptation
Executive Summary


Key Messages

Increases of atmospheric carbon dioxide (CO2), rising temperatures, and altered precipitation patterns will affect agricultural productivity. Increases in temperature coupled with more variable precipitation will reduce productivity of crops, and these effects will outweigh the benefits of increasing carbon dioxide. Effects will vary among annual and perennial crops, and regions of the United States; however, all production systems will be affected to some degree by climate change. Agricultural systems depend upon reliable water sources, and the pattern and potential magnitude of precipitation changes is not well understood, thus adding considerable uncertainty to assessment efforts.

Livestock production systems are vulnerable to temperature stresses. An animal’s ability to adjust its metabolic rate to cope with temperature extremes can lead to reduced productivity and in extreme cases death. Prolonged exposure to extreme temperatures will also further increase production costs and productivity losses associated with all animal products, e.g., meat, eggs, and milk.

Projections for crops and livestock production systems reveal that climate change effects over the next 25 years will be mixed. The continued degree of change in the climate by midcentury and beyond is expected to have overall detrimental effects on most crops and livestock.
Climate change will exacerbate current biotic stresses on agricultural plants and animals. Changing pressures associated with weeds, diseases, and insect pests, together with potential changes in timing and coincidence of pollinator lifecycles, will affect growth and yields. The potential magnitude of these effects is not yet well understood.

For example, while some pest insects will thrive under increasing air temperatures, warming temperatures may force others out of their current geographical ranges. Several weeds have shown a greater response to carbon dioxide relative to crops; understanding these physiological and genetic responses may help guide future enhancements to weed management.

Agriculture is dependent on a wide range of ecosystem processes that support productivity including maintenance of soil quality and regulation of water quality and quantity. Multiple stressors, including climate change, increasingly compromise the ability of ecosystems to provide these services. Key near-term climate change effects on agricultural soil and water resources include the potential for increased soil erosion through extreme precipitation events, as well as regional and seasonal changes in the availability of water resources for both rain-fed and irrigated agriculture.

The predicted higher incidence of extreme weather events will have an increasing influence on agricultural productivity. Extremes matter because agricultural productivity is driven largely by environmental conditions during critical threshold periods of crop and livestock development. Improved assessment of climate change effects on agricultural productivity requires greater integration of extreme events into crop and economic models.

The vulnerability of agriculture to climatic change is strongly dependent on the responses taken by humans to moderate the effects of climate change. Adaptive actions within agricultural sectors are driven by perceptions of risk, direct productivity effects of climate change, and by complex changes in domestic and international markets, policies, and other institutions as they respond to those effects within the United States and worldwide.

Opportunities for adaptation are shaped by the operating context within which decision‑making occurs, access to effective adaptation options, and the capacity of individuals and institutions to take adaptive action as climate conditions change. Effective adaptive action across the multiple dimensions of the U.S. agricultural system offers potential to capitalize on emerging opportunities
and minimize the costs associated with climate change. A climate-ready U.S. agriculture will depend on the development of geographically specific, agriculturally relevant, climate projections for the near and medium term; effective adaptation planning and assessment strategies; and soil, crop and livestock management practices that enhance agricultural production
system resilience to climatic variability and extremes.

Anticipated adaptation to climate change in production agriculture includes adjustments to production system inputs, tillage, crop species, crop rotations, and harvest strategies. New research and development in new crop varieties that are more resistant to drought, disease, and heat stress will increase the resilience of agronomic systems to climate change and will enable exploitation of opportunities that may arise.

Over the last 150 years, U.S. agriculture has exhibited a remarkable capacity to adapt to a wide
diversity of growing conditions amid dynamic social and economic changes. These adaptations
were made during a period of relative climatic stability and abundant technical, financial and natural resources. Future agricultural adaptation will be undertaken in a decision environment characterized by high complexity and uncertainty driven by the sensitivity of agricultural system response to climatic variability, the complexity of interactions between the agricultural systems, non-climate stressors and the global climate system, and the increasing pace and intensity of climatic change.

New approaches to managing the uncertainty associated with climate change, such as integrated assessment of climate change effects and adaptation options, the use of adaptive management and robust decision-support strategies, the integration of climate knowledge into decisionmaking by producers, technical advisors, and agricultural research and development planning efforts, and the development of resilient agricultural production systems will help to sustain agricultural production during the 21st century.

ritter

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Re: Climate Change Impacts - US Agriculture
« Reply #1 on: March 07, 2013, 07:31:57 PM »
That is a sobering account, but what I've been expecting. A good read for those that think it's as simple as shifting the growing belts north or south. It's nice to see .gov is beginning to study this more closely.

Dromicosuchus

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Re: Climate Change Impacts - US Agriculture
« Reply #2 on: March 08, 2013, 01:41:00 AM »
Personally, I find myself worrying that, given the dramatic shifts that are now occurring, the US midwest may very shortly transition back to the state it's been in for much of the Holocene--i.e., scrub desert with small sand seas scattered here and there.  Given the extremely rapid changes in the Arctic, and the probability that they'll have dramatic effects on the climate of the northern hemisphere in general, I'm planning to try to get into a Master's program in Canada, move on to a PhD there, and hopefully eventually get citizenship.  I no longer trust the stability the United States' food production capabilities.

Pmt111500

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Re: Climate Change Impacts - US Agriculture
« Reply #3 on: March 31, 2013, 06:26:29 AM »
Medieval Warm Period (MWP) in the western USA was occasionally very dry, article on US droughts:
http://climatechangepsychology.blogspot.fi/2013/03/the-characteristics-and-likely-causes.html

10-20 year droughts were pretty regular during MWP. As the earth is currently a bit warmer than then, Chinese have sailed the arctic passages (like Zheng He) and because the vikings have gone back to Greenland, I see no reason why these kinds of droughts wouldn't repeat.

gfwellman

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Re: Climate Change Impacts - US Agriculture
« Reply #4 on: March 31, 2013, 08:14:06 AM »
I'm assuming you're joking re Zheng He.  That voyage is fiction.  His real voyages http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Zheng_He are a pretty interesting story though.

frankendoodle

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Re: Climate Change Impacts - US Agriculture
« Reply #5 on: April 03, 2013, 05:11:59 PM »
http://www.livescience.com/28365-cold-spring-explained.html

Wow, an article linking weather phenomena in North America to changes in arctic sea ice loss.

Dromicosuchus

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Re: Climate Change Impacts - US Agriculture
« Reply #6 on: April 20, 2013, 06:34:34 AM »
The following two papers might be relevant.  They, along with other work along a similar line, are behind the sentiments I expressed in an earlier post.  Great Plains agriculture is just too fragile a thing for me to feel at all safe relying on it.

http://www.argonaut.arizona.edu/articles/holliday1989b.pdf

http://eas.unl.edu/~dloope/pdf/QSRSchmeisser09.pdf

wili

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Re: Climate Change Impacts - US Agriculture
« Reply #7 on: June 13, 2013, 09:55:25 PM »
Thanks for those links, fd and ds.

That last article has a take-away line at the end:

Quote
Given our understanding of megadroughts over the Great Plains as well as recent climate predictions for increased warmth and drought over this area, future reactivation of the dunes seems likely.

Wouldn't that meant that the Nebraska sand hills and similar formations along the high plains will destabilize and start blowing across the landscape, turning the middle of the US into a Sahara.

ETA: The latest Drought Monitor shows a Long-Term, highest-level (Exceptional) drought persisting right over the central Sand Hills area.

http://droughtmonitor.unl.edu/archive.html

A poster at the Malthusia site from the shorter-term exceptional drought area in NM said that all the grass is dead in his area, and most of the bushes and trees are either dead or dying.

I can't imagine that things are better in the officially Long Term Exceptional Drought area over the Sand Hills.

If anyone lives in that area, perhaps they could report in, but I am guessing that these giant sand dunes are right now in the process of destabilizing. The next step will be for winds to start blowing them around the plains, killing everything they land on.
« Last Edit: June 14, 2013, 11:55:55 AM by wili »
"A force de chercher de bonnes raisons, on en trouve; on les dit; et après on y tient, non pas tant parce qu'elles sont bonnes que pour ne pas se démentir." Choderlos de Laclos "You struggle to come up with some valid reasons, then cling to them, not because they're good, but just to not back down."