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Simulating future climate change impacts on seed cotton yield in the Texas High Plains using the CSM-CROPGRO-Cotton model

Adhikari, Pradip, Ale, Srinivasulu, Bordovsky, James P., Thorp, Kelly R., Modala, Naga R., Rajan, Nithya, Barnes, Edward M.
Agricultural water management 2016 v.164 pp. 317-330
aquifers, carbon dioxide, climate, climate change, climate models, cotton, crop yield, cropping systems, decision support systems, drought, groundwater, growing season, irrigation management, water use efficiency, Texas
The Texas High Plains (THP) region contributes to about 25% of the US cotton production. Dwindling groundwater resources in the underlying Ogallala aquifer, future climate variability and frequent occurrences of droughts are major concerns for cotton production in this region. Assessing the impacts of climate change on cotton production enables development and evaluation of irrigation strategies for efficient utilization of groundwater resources in this region. In this study, the CROPGRO-Cotton module within the Cropping System Model (CSM) that is distributed with the Decision Support System for Agrotechnology Transfer (DSSAT) was evaluated for the THP region using measured data from cotton water use efficiency experiments at Halfway over a period of four years (2010–2013). Simulated seed cotton yield matched closely with observed yield during model calibration (average percent error of 0.1) and validation (average percent error of 6.5). The evaluated model was able to accurately simulate seed cotton yield under various irrigation strategies over the four growing seasons. The evaluated CROPGRO-Cotton model was later used to simulate the seed cotton yield under historic (1971–2000) and future (2041–2070) climate scenarios projected by three climate models. On an average, when compared to historic seed cotton yield, simulated future seed cotton yield across the THP decreased within a range of 4–17% when carbon dioxide (CO2) concentration was assumed to be constant at the current level (380ppm) under three climatic model scenarios. In contrast, when the CO2 concentration was assumed to increase from 493ppm (in year 2041) to 635ppm (in year 2070) according to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) A2 emission scenario, the simulated future average seed cotton yield in the THP region increased within a range of 14–29% as compared to historic average yield. When the irrigation amount was reduced by 40% (from 100% to 60%), the average (2041–2070) seed cotton yield decreased by 37% and 39% under the constant and increasing CO2 concentration scenarios, respectively. These results imply that cotton is sensitive to atmospheric CO2 concentrations, and cotton production in the THP could potentially withstand the effects of future climate variability under moderate increases in CO2 levels if irrigation water availability remains at current levels.