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Risks and Rewards: Global Warming and Prairie Agriculture

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Title: Risks and Rewards: Global Warming and Prairie Agriculture


1
Risks and Rewards Global Warming and Prairie
Agriculture
  • E. Wheaton
  • Invited presentation to the 2008 Saskatchewan
    Assessment Appraisers Associations
  • Annual Professional Development Workshop
  • June 18-20, 2008
  • Saskatoon, SK

2
MENU
  • wImportant information sources
  • wIntroduce our new global and local climates
  • wFuture possible climates
  • wImpacts on agriculture
  • wMain strategic responses are
  • -mitigation
  • -adaptation

3
Main Messages
  • w Rapid climate changes are evident and more are
    expected
  • w Winter advantages are disappearing
  • w Weather extremes are more likely and climate
    changes could be abrupt
  • w Many implications for agriculture
  • w Adaptation is happening, but more is needed to
    take advantage of opportunities and avoid/reduce
    negative impacts

4
Many Questions for Agriculture
  • How is land suitability changing?
  • What are the implications for crop selection,
    growth and yield?
  • What are possible effects on livestock?
  • What are the export and trade impacts?
  • What is the role of irrigation and other
    adaptations?
  • How do we best prepare for more climate change?

5
Canada in a Changing Climate
  • Regionally-focused analysis
  • (North, Atlantic, Quebec, Ontario, Prairies,
    British Columbia, International)
  • 145 Authors, 110 reviewers, over 3000 references
  • National Advisory Committee
  • Documents impacts, adaptations and
    vulnerabilities
  • Key products
  • 500 page bilingual science report
  • Synthesis Report and Highlights

6
Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC)
  • Established in 1988 by the
  • World Meteorological
  • Organization
  • and the
  • United Nations
  • Environment Programme
  • One of the most authoritative bodies regarding
    climate change
  • Co-winner of the
  • 2007 Nobel Peace Prize

7
Effect of climate change factors on the Earths
heat budget
8
Current atmospheric concentrations of greenhouse
gases far exceed pre-industrial values
(IPCC 2007)
9
Compare natural and human effects on past
temperatures
10
  • Warming of the climate system is very clear
    and very likely related to human activities (IPCC
    2007)
  • Increasing global air and ocean temperatures
  • Rising global average sea level
  • Reductions of snow and ice

(IPCC 2007)
11
Extreme Events
  • The frequency of heavy precipitation events has
    increased over most areas
  • From 1900 to 2005, precipitation increased
    significantly in eastern parts of North and South
    America, northern Europe and northern and central
    Asia but declined in the Sahel, the
    Mediterranean, southern Africa and parts of
    southern Asia
  • Globally, the area affected by drought has likely
    increased since the 1970s
  • Changes in other extremes such as dust storms,
    hail storms, and tornados are likely, but more
    difficult to estimate
  • Patterns of warming and other regional-scale
    features, including changes in wind patterns,
    precipitation, and some aspects of extremes and
    sea ice are estimated with greater confidence


INTERGOVERNMENTAL PANEL ON CLIMATE CHANGE (IPCC)
12
What is the new Canadian climate like?
Temperature increases 1953-2005
(Vincent et al. 2007)
13
Precipitation Trends (1950-98)
Winter
Spring
Summer
Autumn
Zhang et al. (2000)
14
Precipitation Trends 1901-2006 ( Changes/
Century US Climate Change Science Program 2007)
15
The Snow-cover Season is Shrinking Canadian
Prairies(Anomalies from 1961 to 1990 mean)
After Wheaton 2005 (Data Brown 2003)
16
The number of blizzards has fallen sharply in the
Prairies since 1953
(Lawson 2003)
17
Temperature changes mean changes for crops,
heating, and cooling buildings
HDD
GDD
CDD
1950-1988 (dd/10y) Coloured dots signify positive
trends and black signifies negative trends.
Crosses significant trends Bonsal et. al. 2001
18
Earlier Springs and Later Autumns (1950-98 in
days)
Bonsal et al. 2001
19
Plant phenology is changing Spring blooming
dates for aspen poplar have shifted 26 days
earlier in the past several decades on the
Prairies(Beaubien and Freeland 2000) What does
this mean for agricultural activities?
20
High temperatures are still variable ( gt 35C,
Saskatoon, SK)
21
Low temperatures are becoming rare (lt -40C,
Saskatoon, SK)
22
Frost-Free Season is Getting Longer Saskatoon
Beaulieu 2008
23
Recent Extremes include Droughts Floods and
More are Expected
Flooded agricultural land east of Vanguard July
2000 (Hunter et al. 2003 Photo SWA)
24
Very dry areas have doubled since the 1970s
(Dai et al. 2004)
25
Drought Spatial Patterns
  • 2001 and 2002 drought years appear to be the most
    extensive of this set of major droughts
  • Preferred area for droughts in Canada is the
    southern prairie provinces
  • Northward extension of these recent droughts
    appears unusual
  • 2001-2002 was a major multi-year drought, unlike
    most others
  • Causes may be changing

(Wheaton et al, 2005)
26
Precipitation Compared to Historical Distribution
September 1, 2007 to June 17, 2008
Record Dry Extremely Low (0-10) Very Low (10-20)
(PFRA Drought Monitor 2008)
27
(No Transcript)
28
Drought Impacts can be Numerous and Severe
(Wheaton et al. 2005)
29
Economic Impacts of the 2001-2002 Drought
  • Total Canadian agricultural production loss was
    3.6 billion
  • Gross Domestic Product fell 5.8 billion
  • Employment losses gt 41,000
  • Worst year was 2002
  • Alberta and Saskatchewan were hit hardest

(Wheaton et al. 2005, 2008)
30
Impacts of the 2001-2002 Drought
  • wPreviously reliable and good quality water
    supplies were severely affected, and some failed
  • wRecords were set such as lowest water levels in
    the Georgian Bay Area
  • wThe number of prairie sloughs was the lowest on
    record in May 2002
  • (Wheaton et al. 2005,2008)

31
Grasslands Suffer during Droughts
Grass Growth on Pastures for 6 June 2002
32
Spatial patterns of crop production in 2001
drought
33
Significant warming is expected for all
continents but Antarctica
34
We are committed to some Global Warming
Projections of Global Surface Temperature
Increases
35
Summer Mean Temperature Change 2080s
36
Winter Mean Temperature Change 2080s
37
Winter advantages
  • Reduced insect and disease problems
  • Better winter ice roads
  • Water storage as snow
  • Shorter fire season
  • Less crime?
  • Fewer freezing rain hazards
  • ETC

38
Agricultural EffectsModerate warming benefits
crop and pasture yields in mid to high
latitudesFurther warming is bad news for all
regionsIPCC 2007
39
Major Impacts of Climate Change on Crop,
Livestock and Forestry Production, 2050
(IPCC 2007)
40
Global impacts projected for changes in climate,
sea level and atmospheric CO2
IPCC 2007
41
Effects of Climate Change on US Agriculture
  • Part of one of the most extensive examination of
    climate impacts on US ecosystems (USDA)
  • Grain and oilseed crops will mature more rapidly,
    but higher temperatures increase the risk of crop
    failures
  • Higher temperatures will cause problems for
    livestock, e.g. lower productivity
  • Invasion by exotic grass species into arid lands
    (increased fire risk)
  • Need information to help resource managers make
    better decisions to address the risks of climate
    change
  • (Hatfield et al. 2008)

42
Agriculture Adapting to climate
  • Limited water availability and potential
    interruption of supply for irrigation
  • Some current crops may become less viable or
    profitable
  • Damage to transportation infrastructure or
    disruptions
  • More cooling is required for transport and
    buildings
  • Exposure of farm workers to increased heat and
    health problems
  • (Sussman and Freed 2008 US PEW Center)

43
Prairie Agriculture in a Changing Climate
  • Agriculture is both important to the Canadian
    economy and very sensitive to weather and climate
  • Climate change has the potential for many
    positive and negative effects
  • Weather and climate provide both
  • risks and opportunities
  • Risks include droughts, floods,
  • heat stress, insects and diseases,
  • storms, frosts, variability, etc
  • (Sauchyn and Kulshreshtha 2008)

44
Patterns of Production
  • Opportunities increasing temperatures and
    growing season lengths allow earlier seeding
    dates, enhance crop growth and increase potential
    yield
  • Risks rising temperatures increase the crops'
    water demand and can add stress
  • Higher temperatures may lead to increasing crop
    yields in areas with sufficient water supply, to
    decreasing yields in areas with hot and dry
    conditions, and to a northward shift of
    agriculture, where possible

(Sauchyn and Kulshreshtha 2008)
45
Changing patterns of grassland production
  • Northward shift of the Canadian vegetation zones
    (boreal forest, aspen parkland, mixed prairie)
  • Most of the grassland region shifts to mixed
    prairie (found in Montana, Wyoming, and the
    Dakotas)
  • Southwestern edge of
  • grassland region shifts to
  • shortgrass prairie
  • (found in Colorado and farther south)

(Thorpe 2007)
46
Some Possible Water Futures
  • Increased drying due to increased temperatures,
    and ice free season, etc.
  • Decreased water supplies
  • Increased societal demands on water resources and
    conflicts
  • Increases in water scarcity represent the most
    serious climate risk (Sauchyn and Kulshreshtha
    2008)

47
Droughts are likely to become worse
48
  • Increases in insect and disease disturbances
    occur with warming
  • Grasshoppers are problem pests during droughts
    and cause much damage
  • (Johnson)

49
  • Insects are
  • moving northward, bringing more disease and
  • new diseases
  • (Curry et al. 2007)
  • e.g. West Nile,
  • Lyme Disease,
  • St. Louis Encephalitis,
  • Lyme Disease,

50
Next Steps?
Next? wLink Agriculture and Climate
Peoplew wPrepare for greater climatic risks and
opportunitiesw wKnowledge-of climate risksw
wLeadershipw
  • How well are we prepared for the effects of
    current and
  • future climate variability?
  • How vulnerable are we and how can we estimate
    vulnerability and reduce it?
  • Better understanding of past future climate
    variability, impacts and adaptations

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