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ARS Home » Plains Area » El Reno, Oklahoma » Grazinglands Research Laboratory » Agroclimate and Natural Resources Research » Research » Publications at this Location » Publication #334018

Research Project: ADAPTING SOIL AND WATER CONSERVATION TO MEET THE CHALLENGES OF A CHANGING CLIMATE

Location: Agroclimate and Natural Resources Research

Title: Vulnerability of southern plains agriculture to climate change

Author
item Steiner, Jean
item Brown, David
item Briske, David - Texas A&m University
item Rottler, Caitlin

Submitted to: Climatic Change
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 3/31/2017
Publication Date: 4/13/2017
Citation: Steiner, J.L., Brown, D.P., Briske, D.D., Rottler, C.M. 2017. Vulnerability of southern plains agriculture to climate change. Climatic Change. doi:10.1007/s10584-017-1965-5.

Interpretive Summary: Climate is a key driver for all ecological and economic systems; therefore, climate change introduces additional uncertainty and vulnerability into these systems. Agriculture represents a major land use that is critical to the survival of human societies and it is highly vulnerable to climate. Climate change poses significant risks to agriculture across global, national, regional, and farm scales. However, it is essential to elucidate vulnerabilities in a way that can help identify adaptation and mitigation strategies at the regional to local scales where management decisions are made. The objective of this paper is to describe the climate and agricultural systems of the Southern Plains of the US as a means to assess agricultural vulnerability in terms of exposure, sensitivity, and adaptive capacity. Highly variable weather has always been a benchmark of life and agriculture in this region. Agriculture and forestry are exposed to serious climate challenges, particularly increasing temperature with the associated increase in evaporative demand, more intense precipitation events, longer drought periods, and changes in seasonality of precipitation, frost, and other climate stressors. In the face of ongoing and future climate changes, ongoing efforts are essential o develop new technologies and strategies to cope and to build the adaptive capacity of producers in this region. The USDA Climate Hubs were developed to channel the considerable resources of USDA, the land grant university systems, and other federal, state, and local partners to foster regional and national communication, coordination, and on-going research and extension programs to build more resilient agricultural systems and rural communities. This assessment identifies key vulnerabilities of rainfed and irrigated cropping, high-value specialty crops, extensive and intensive livestock production, and forestry. Adaptation is focusing on practices to build soil health, developing flexible drought management plans with clear triggers and decision points, monitoring and response plans for increased pest pressures, policies and financial instruments for risk management, improved weather and climate forecasts and decision support tools, and training of producers and land owners. These adaptation strategies are essential to sustain agricultural and forestry production systems within the region. Additionally, this analysis based on identifying exposure, sensitivity, and impacts of diverse agricultural enterprises to climate change can serve as a framework to assess vulnerability in similar agro-ecoregions of the world.

Technical Abstract: Climate is a key driver for all ecological and economic systems; therefore, climate change introduces additional uncertainty and vulnerability into these systems. Agriculture represents a major land use that is critical to the survival of human societies and it is highly vulnerable to climate. Climate change poses significant risks to agriculture across global, national, regional, and farm scales. However, it is essential to elucidate vulnerabilities in a way that can help identify adaptation and mitigation strategies at the regional to local scales where management decisions are made. The objective of this paper is to describe the climate and agricultural systems of the Southern Plains of the US as a means to assess agricultural vulnerability in terms of exposure, sensitivity, and adaptive capacity. Highly variable weather has always been a benchmark of life and agriculture in this region. Agriculture and forestry are exposed to serious climate challenges, particularly increasing temperature with the associated increase in evaporative demand, more intense precipitation events, longer drought periods, and changes in seasonality of precipitation, frost, and other climate stressors. In the face of ongoing and future climate changes, ongoing efforts are essential o develop new technologies and strategies to cope and to build the adaptive capacity of producers in this region. The USDA Climate Hubs were developed to channel the considerable resources of USDA, the land grant university systems, and other federal, state, and local partners to foster regional and national communication, coordination, and on-going research and extension programs to build more resilient agricultural systems and rural communities. This assessment identifies key vulnerabilities of rainfed and irrigated cropping, high-value specialty crops, extensive and intensive livestock production, and forestry. Adaptation is focusing on practices to build soil health, developing flexible drought management plans with clear triggers and decision points, monitoring and response plans for increased pest pressures, policies and financial instruments for risk management, improved weather and climate forecasts and decision support tools, and training of producers and land owners. These adaptation strategies are essential to sustain agricultural and forestry production systems within the region. Additionally, this analysis based on identifying exposure, sensitivity, and impacts of diverse agricultural enterprises to climate change can serve as a framework to assess vulnerability in similar agro-ecoregions of the world.