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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Research Project: SUSTAINABLE CROPPING SYSTEMS FOR IRRIGATED SPECIALTY CROPS AND BIOFUELS

Location: Vegetable and Forage Crops Production Research

Title: Assessment of climate change impact on Eastern Washington agriculture

Authors
item Stockle, C -
item Nelson, R -
item Higgins, S -
item Brunner, J -
item Grove, G -
item Boydston, Rick
item Whiting, M -
item Kruger, C -

Submitted to: Climatic Change
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: March 23, 2010
Publication Date: April 1, 2010
Repository URL: http://www.springerlink.com/content/q844862577u49121/fulltext.pdf
Citation: Stockle, C.O., Nelson, R.L., Higgins, S., Brunner, J., Grove, G., Boydston, R.A., Whiting, M., Kruger, C. 2010. Assessment of climate change impact on Eastern Washington agriculture. Climatic Change. Available: http://www.springerlink.com/content/q844862577u49121/fulltext.pdf.

Interpretive Summary: Climate change has the potential to alter agricultural cropping systems through changes in atmospheric CO2 and its effects on crops and their associated pests. An assessment of the potential impact of climate change on eastern Washington State agriculture was conducted. Projections in climate change were estimated from four models on several major economic crops grown in Washington State (apples, potatoes, and wheat). A cropping system simulation model (CropSyst) was utilized using historical and future climate sequences. Crops were assumed to receive adequate water (irrigated crops), nutrients, and control of weeds, pests and diseases. Results project that the impact of climate change on eastern Washington agriculture will be generally mild in the next two decades, but increasingly detrimental by the end of the century. Elevated CO2 is expected to lesson the negative effect on crop yield and actually result in yield gains for some crops. Coupled with crop management that adapts to the climate change, their may be incresaed yield benefits for all crops. The study assumed irrigation water would be unlimited, but other studies suggest that it may decrease in many locations due to climate change.

Technical Abstract: An assessment of the potential impact of climate change and the concurrent increase of atmospheric CO2 concentration on eastern Washington State agriculture was conducted. Climate projections from four selected general circulation models (GCM) were chosen, and the assessment included the crops with larger economic value for the state (apples, potatoes, and wheat). To evaluate crop performance, a cropping system simulation model (CropSyst) was utilized using historical and future climate sequences. Crops were assumed to receive adequate water (irrigated crops), nutrients, and control of weeds, pests and diseases. Results project that the impact of climate change on eastern Washington agriculture will be generally mild in the short term (i.e., next two decades), but increasingly detrimental with time (potential yield losses reaching 25% for some crops by the end of the century). However, CO2 elevation is expected to provide significant mitigation, and in fact result in yield gains for some crops. The combination of increased CO2 and adaptive management may result in yield benefits for all crops. One limitation of the study is that water supply was assumed sufficient for irrigated crops, but other studies suggest that it may decrease in many locations due to climate change.

Last Modified: 4/16/2014