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ARS Home » Plains Area » Fort Collins, Colorado » Center for Agricultural Resources Research » Soil Management and Sugarbeet Research » Research » Publications at this Location » Publication #326577

Title: Synthesis and modeling of greenhouse gas emissions and carbon storage in agricultural and forest systems to guide mitigation and adaptation

item Del Grosso, Stephen - Steve
item Ahuja, Lajpat
item PARTON, WILLIAM - Colorado State University

Submitted to: American Society of Agronomy Special Publication
Publication Type: Book / Chapter
Publication Acceptance Date: 9/8/2015
Publication Date: 2/8/2016
Citation: Del Grosso, S.J., Ahuja, L., Parton, W.J. 2016. Synthesis and Modeling of Greenhouse Gas Emissions and Carbon Storage in Agricultural and Forest Systems to Guide Mitigation and Adaptation. American Society of Agronomy, Crop Science Society of America, Soil Science Society of America, Madison, WI. 6:1-318. doi: 10.2134/advagricsystmodel6.

Interpretive Summary: This ground-breaking look at modeling greenhouse gas emissions considers crop, livestock, and forestry productions systems. These are important sources and sinks of greenhouses gases, but estimates of the magnitude of gas fluxes are more uncertain than those for other economic sectors such as transportation and electricity generation. Recent improvements in process-level understanding, modeling software, and observational data used for model testing have increased the accuracy of model predictions, but substantial uncertainty remains, particularly regarding the potential for different management practices to mitigate emissions. The chapters in this volume demonstrate that both simple methods and complex models have strengths and limitations depending on stakeholder interest, scale of application, and other factors. Future improvement can be facilitated by organizing model input and testing data into web-accessible databases and by making model algorithms more available and transparent.

Technical Abstract: In the early 21st century, climate change has emerged as one of the great societal challenges. Taking effective actions to address this concern is complicated by many technological hurdles and socio-economic challenges. Agriculture is a critical player in this arena, because it disproportionately influences climate change as a fraction of its contribution to the global economy. Agriculture also disproportionately suffers from climate change through the effects of weather extremes that can result in crop and animal losses. But the agricultural sector also offers some of the most promising solutions to climate change through improved production practices and efficiencies that can reduce greenhouse gas emissions, as well as through opportunities around carbon sequestration in soils. This book addresses an important aspect of the scientific needs around this issue: the quantification of agricultural greenhouse gas emissions through the use of numerical simulation models. Why are computer models critical to this effort? First, it is practically impossible to measure greenhouse gas emissions from agricultural practices on a continuing basis, which would be required if we want to document climate benefits from changes in agriculture. Second, we need to project outcomes from different management scenarios into the future to predict potential long-term benefits. Accurate simulation models have the potential to allow us to meet these needs at low cost. This book discusses the recent advances that have been made in this area, as well as scientific issues around the effective use of such models. This helps advance our ability to address the climate change challenges of the present and the future.