By Georgine Yorgey
Reprinted from: WSU CSANR Perspectives on Sustainability
High value tree fruit may get priority when it comes to water in drought years. Photo: L. Seaton
As this hot, dry summer winds down across Washington State, many areas are continuing to struggle with the impacts of drought. (Those who would like a recap of August weather and drought conditions can see the WSU Drought Report here.)
Unfortunately, while the weather has become more fall-like, with welcome rain in some areas, all climate indicators point towards increased chance of warmer and somewhat drier than normal conditions through mid-2016 – as shown in the three month forecast from the Climate Prediction Center (see the maps below). Continue reading →
By David Schmidt
Reprinted from: Animal Ag
I was at a Climate Convening yesterday in a small city in Southern Minnesota (Owatonna). I was invited to facilitate a small group discussion on agriculture and climate change. I was talking with one of the conference organizers before the meeting about agriculture and climate change and she came up with the line that agriculture is victim, contributor, and solver when it comes to climate change. I think it describes the situation well.
Victim: Victim is easy to see. There is no doubt about the connection between agriculture and climate. Continue reading →
By: Liz Allen
In order to be relevant to agricultural decision-makers, scenarios must account for technological innovations and changing farming practices. Here, a group of researchers and growers review direct-seed test plots at a Direct Seed field day in St. John, WA, hosted by the Palouse Rock Lake Conservation District, Cook Agronomy Farm, and the Pacific Northwest Direct Seed Association. Photo by Kay Meyer. Reproduced from the REACCH 2015 Annual Report.
Throughout this blog series I’ve discussed various aspects of scenario planning, from the general philosophy (part 1) to adapting global scenarios to study the impacts of climate change and development on water resources in the Pacific Northwest (Part 4). In this 5th and final installment, we’ll turn to scenarios created specifically to study changes affecting agriculture. I’ll begin by covering the international context in which these agricultural scenarios are being developed and then explore how the Regional Approaches to Climate Change (REACCH) project, a collaborative effort between UI, WSU and OSU, is refining agricultural scenarios for use in studying the possible futures of cereal production systems in the inland Pacific Northwest.
Continue reading →
By: John Stevenson
Owyhee Dam historic photo. Credit: commons.wikimedia.org
Unless you have been living under a defunct tractor with feral cats for the last 10 months, you know it’s not a good news year for anything related to water. Despite this, a few weeks ago I traveled to Malheur County in eastern Oregon looking for ‘success stories’ growing up through the cracks while gathering footage for a film that CIRC and Oregon Sea Grant are producing to document this year’s drought. On the one hand, there is no shortage of examples of how the prolonged drought – three years and running – has impacted eastern Oregon. The Owyhee Reservoir carries over 700,000 acre feet of active storage for irrigating crops, usually amounting to more than a two year supply for production in the Treasure Valley along the Snake River that divides Oregon and Idaho. In 2013, the reservoir failed to fill and supplies were exhausted, then it happened again in 2014, and is becoming something of the norm this year, with just five percent of active storage remaining at the beginning of August. Take any of these years and the impact of the drought is on par with other bad years, 1977 and 1992 come to mind, but consider the failure to fill four years in a row, and the drought’s impact on the Treasure Valley is unprecedented in a history that goes all the way back to 1932. Continue reading →
By Liz Allen
Reprinted from: WSU CSANR Perspectives on Sustainability
As a PhD student with CSANR interested in improving communication about climate and agriculture between the academic and decision-making spheres, I’ve had a lot of conversations about climate models with agricultural producers, industry representatives, policy makers and regulatory officials (as well as with modelers themselves!). In the course of those conversations it has become clear that accessible explanations of how climate models are developed and how the results from climate change projections ought to be interpreted are lacking.
A team of us affiliated with WSU’s Center for Sustaining Agriculture and Natural Resources and the BioEarth research project set out to create a guide to climate modeling intended for agricultural and natural resource decision makers in the Pacific Northwest and beyond. Using examples from the 2011 Columbia River Basin Long-Term Water Supply and Demand Forecast, we describe:
- What process-based models are
- How global climate change projections are downscaled and applied in regional climate impacts analyses
- The importance of understanding scale
- How uncertainty is handled and communicated in model outputs
- Applications of results from process-based models
This concise overview guide is the product of collaboration between modelers who specialize in agricultural, hydrological and economic systems and science communicators. We hope this will be a valuable reference resource to a wide range of people interested in understanding and using climate models. So go grab yourself a cup of coffee, give it a read and let us know what you think and what questions you have.