We examined the impacts on U.S. agriculture of transient climate change as simulated by 2 global general circulation models focusing on the decades of the 2030s and 2090s. We examined historical shifts in the location of crops and trends in the variability of U.S. average crop yields, finding that non-climatic forces have likely dominated the north and westward movement of crops and the trends in yield variability. For the simulated future climates we considered impacts on crops, grazing and pasture, livestock, pesticide use, irrigation water supply and demand, and the sensitivity to international trade assumptions, finding that the aggregate of these effects were positive for the U.S. consumer but negative, due to declining crop prices, for producers. We examined the effects of potential changes in El Niño/Southern Oscillation (ENSO) and impacts on yield variability of changes in mean climate conditions. Increased losses occurred with ENSO intensity and frequency increases that could not be completely offset even if the events could be perfectly forecasted. Effects on yield variability of changes in mean temperatures were mixed. We also considered case study interactions of climate, agriculture, and the environment focusing on climate effects on nutrient loading to the Chesapeake Bay and groundwater depletion of the Edward's Aquifer that provides water for municipalities and agriculture to the San Antonio, Texas area. While only case studies, these results suggest environmental targets such as pumping limits and changes in farm practices to limit nutrient run-off would need to be tightened if current environmental goals were to be achieved under the climate scenarios we examined.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Global and Planetary Change
- Atmospheric Science