Saturday, October 12, 2013

Study evaluates how climate change affects North American rangelands

Texas A&M AgriLife Today: A group of eight U.S. scientists, including Texas A&M University’s Dr. David Briske and Dr. Bruce McCarl, recently published two assessments that identify trends and projections for rangeland effects of climate change and evaluate adaptation strategies.

...Changes in mean climatic trend and increased variability will affect the ability of rangelands to provide ecosystem services and support human livelihoods, but in varied and geographically specific ways, Briske said.

Climate models project that the U.S. Southwest and Southern Plains will become warmer and drier. The Northwest will become warmer and drier during summer and experience less snowpack in winter. The northern United States and southern Canada are projected to become warmer and wetter. “Such developments will affect rangeland enterprises  and productivity,” said McCarl, a Texas A&M AgriLife Research economist.

The interacting effects of atmospheric warming, increased carbon dioxide concentrations, and modified precipitation patterns will modify fire regimes, soil carbon content, and forage quantity and quality, according to the scientists. This will, in turn, affect livestock production, plant community composition, and the distribution of plant, animals, and diseases.

Human actions to minimize negative impacts and to capture potential opportunities need to be geographically specific to effectively contend with these varied consequences, according to the authors. The study authors also indicate that specific actions to increase carbon sequestration are not an economically viable mitigation strategy because carbon uptake is limited by low and variable precipitation....

Aftermath of the 2012 Long Draw Fire in Oregon, photo by the Bureau of Land Management

No comments: