Climate impacts on agricultural land use in the USA: the role of socio-economic scenarios

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Abstract

We examine the impacts of climate on net returns from crop and livestock production and the resulting impact on land-use change across the contiguous USA. We first estimate an econometric model to project effects of weather fluctuations on crop and livestock net returns and then use a semi-reduced form land-use share model to study agricultural land-use changes under future climate and socio-economic scenarios. Estimation results show that crop net returns are more sensitive to thermal and less sensitive to moisture variability than livestock net returns; other agricultural land uses substitute cropland use when 30-year averaged degree-days or precipitation are not beneficial for crop production. Under future climate and socio-economic scenarios, we project that crop and livestock net returns are both increasing, but with crop net returns increasing at a higher rate; cropland increases with declines of marginal and pastureland by the end of the twenty-first century. Projections also show that impacts of future climate on agricultural land uses are substantially different and a larger variation of land-use change is evident when socio-economic scenarios are incorporated into the climate impact analysis.

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Mu, J. E., Sleeter, B. M., Abatzoglou, J. T., & Antle, J. M. (2017). Climate impacts on agricultural land use in the USA: the role of socio-economic scenarios. Climatic Change, 144(2), 329–345. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10584-017-2033-x

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