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

Mu, Jianhong E., Sleeter, Benjamin M., Abatzoglou, John T., Antle, John M.
Climatic change 2017 v.144 no.2 pp. 329-345
climate, climate change, crop production, cropland, econometric models, heat sums, land use change, livestock, livestock production, pastures, socioeconomics, United States
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.