Page Banner

United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Research Project: INTEGRATION OF CLIMATE VARIABILITY AND FORECASTS INTO RISK-BASED MANAGEMENT TOOLS FOR AGRICULTURE PRODUCTION AND RESOURCE CONSERVATION

Location: Great Plains Agroclimate and Natural Resources Research Unit

Title: Assessing the site-specific impacts of climate change on hydrology, soil erosion and crop yields in the Loess Plateau of China

Authors
item Li, Zhi - NW A&F UNIV., CHINA
item Liu, Wenzhao - INST. SOIL & WATER, CHINA
item Zhang, Xunchang

Submitted to: Climatic Change
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: February 1, 2010
Publication Date: June 1, 2010
Citation: Li, Z., Liu, W., Zhang, X.J. 2010. Assessing the site-specific impacts of climate change on hydrology, soil erosion and crop yields in the Loess Plateau of China. Climatic Change. DOI: 10.1007/510584-010-9875-9.

Interpretive Summary: Climate changes may bring significant impacts on water resources and environments in many parts of the world. The fragile agro-ecosystems in the Loess Plateau of China due to severe soil loss are vulnerable to adverse impacts of climate change. The objective of this work is to assess the site-specific impacts of possible climate change on water resources, soil loss and crop yields in Changwu tableland region in the Loess Plateau. Possible climate changes projected for 2010 - 2039 by four global climate models under three greenhouse gas emission scenarios were used. The WEPP (Water Erosion Prediction Project) computer model was used in simulation. Compared with the present climate, global climate models projected a -2.6 to 17.4% change for precipitation, a 1.1-4.7 degree (Fahrenheit) increase for maximum temperature and 1.1-3.1 degree for minimum temperature during 2010-2039. Under conventional tillage, WEPP predicted a change of 10 to 130% for water runoff, -5 to 195% for soil loss, -17 to 25% for wheat yields, and -2 to 39% for maize yields during 2010-2039. However, compared with conventional tillage under present climate, adoption of conservation tillage during 2010-2039 would decrease soil loss by 26 to 77%. Overall results indicate that adoption of conservation tillage has great potential to reduce the adverse effects of future climate changes on water runoff and soil loss in the region. The findings have general implications for conservationists and farmers to adopt conservation practices to counter the adverse impacts of future climate changes when developing long-term management strategies.

Technical Abstract: Climate changes can have great impacts on fragile agro-ecosystems in the Loess Plateau of China, which is one of the most severely eroded regions in the world. The objective of this study is to assess the site-specific impacts of projected climate change scenarios for 2010-2039 on hydrology, soil loss and crop yields in Changwu tableland region in the Loess Plateau of China. Projections of four climate models (CCSR/NIES, CGCM2, CSIRO-Mk2 and HadCM3) under three emission scenarios (A2, B2 and GGa) were used. A simple spatiotemporal statistical method was used to downscale GCMs monthly grid outputs to station daily weather series. The WEPP (Water Erosion Prediction Project) model was employed to simulate the responses of agro-ecosystems. Compared with the present climate, GCMs projected a -2.6 to 17.4% change for precipitation, increases of 0.6-2.6 degree and 0.6-1.7 degree in Celsius for maximum and minimum temperature, respectively, during 2010-2039. Under conventional tillage, WEPP predicted a change of 10 to 130% for runoff, -5 to 195% for soil loss, -17 to 25% for wheat yields, -2 to 39% for maize yields, -14 to 18% for plant transpiration, -8 to 13% for soil evaporation, and -6 to 9% for soil water at two slopes during 2010-2039. However, compared with conventional tillage under present climate, conservation tillage would change runoff by -34 to 71%, and decrease soil loss by 26 to 77% during 2010-2039, with other output variables being affected slightly. Overall, climate change would bring significant influence for agro-ecosystems in the region. Results indicate that adoption of conservation tillage has great potential to reduce the adverse effects of future climate changes on runoff and soil loss.

Last Modified: 9/10/2014
Footer Content Back to Top of Page