Comparison of agricultural impacts of climate change calculated from high and low resolution climate change scenarios: Part II. Accounting for adaptation and CO2 direct effects

W. E. Easterling, L. O. Mearns, C. J. Hays, D. Marx

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Abstract

We assert that the simulation of fine-scale crop growth processes and agronomic adaptive management using coarse-scale climate change scenarios lower confidence in regional estimates of agronomic adaptive potential. Specifically, we ask: 1) are simulated yield responses to low-resolution climate change, after adaptation (without and with increased atmospheric CO2), significantly different from simulated yield responses to high-resolution climate change, after adaptation (without and with increased atmospheric CO2)? and 2) does the scale of the soils information, in addition to the scale of the climate change information, affect yields after adaptation? Equilibrium (1 × CO2 versus 2 × CO2) climate changes are simulated at two different spatial resolutions in the Great Plains using the CSIRO general circulation model (low resolution) and the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) RegCM2 regional climate model (high resolution). The EPIC crop model is used to simulate the effects of these climate changes; adaptations in EPIC include earlier planting and switch to longer-season cultivars. Adapted yields (without and with additional carbon dioxide) are compared at the different spatial resolutions. Our findings with respect to question I suggest adaptation is more effective in most cases when simulated with a higher resolution climate change than its more generalized low resolution equivalent. We are not persuaded that the use of high resolution climate change information provides insights into the direct effects of higher atmospheric CO2 levels on crops beyond what can be obtained with low resolution information. However, this last finding may be partly an artifact of the agriculturally benign CSIRO and RegCM2 climate changes. With respect to question 2, we found that high resolution details of soil characteristics are particularly important to include in adaptation simulations in regions typified by soils with poor water holding capacity.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)173-197
Number of pages25
JournalClimatic Change
Volume51
Issue number2
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Nov 15 2001

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All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Global and Planetary Change
  • Atmospheric Science

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