finding 22.2 : key-message-22-2

Agriculture is an integral component of the economy, the history, and the culture of the Northern Great Plains. Recently, agriculture has benefited from longer growing seasons and other recent climatic changes (very high confidence). Some additional production and conservation benefits are expected in the next two to three decades as land managers employ innovative adaptation strategies (very likely, high confidence), but rising temperatures and changes in extreme weather events are very likely to have negative impacts on parts of the region (very likely, very high confidence). Adaptation to extremes and to longer-term, persistent climate changes will likely require transformative changes in agricultural management, including regional shifts of agricultural practices and enterprises (very likely, high confidence).

This finding is from chapter 22 of Impacts, Risks, and Adaptation in the United States: The Fourth National Climate Assessment, Volume II.

Process for developing key messages:

The chapter lead (CL) and coordinating lead author (CLA) developed a list of potential contributing authors by soliciting suggestions from the past National Climate Assessment (NCA) author team, colleagues and collaborators throughout the region, and contributors to other regional reports. Our initial list of potential authors also included CL nominees submitted to the U.S. Global Change Research Program (USGCRP). The CL and CLA discussed the Northern Great Plains, which was part of the larger Great Plains region for the Third National Climate Assessment (NCA3), with each of these nominees and, as part of that discussion, solicited suggestions for other nominees. This long list of potential contributing authors was pared down by omitting individuals who could not contribute in a timely fashion, and the list was finalized after reconciliation against key themes within the region identified by past NCA authors, the CL and CLA, and contributing author nominees. The team of contributing authors was selected to represent the region geographically and thematically, but participants from some states who had agreed to contribute were eventually unable to do so. Others were unable to contribute from the start. The author team is mostly composed of authors who did not contribute to NCA3.

The CL and CLA, in consultation with past NCA authors and contributing author nominees, identified an initial list of focal areas of regional importance. The author team then solicited input from colleagues and regional experts (identified based on their deep ties to scientific and practitioner communities across the region) on their thoughts on focal areas. This list informed the agenda of a region-wide meeting held on February 22, 2017, with core locations in Fort Collins, Colorado, and Rapid City, South Dakota. The main purpose of this meeting was to seek feedback on the proposed list of focal areas. With this feedback, the author team was able to refine our focal areas to the five themes comprising the Key Messages of the Northern Great Plains regional chapter. Of these, recreation/tourism is a focus area that is new from NCA3.

Description of evidence base:

Several lines of research have shown that agricultural productivity is likely to increase in rangelands across the region with increasing atmospheric carbon dioxide (CO2) and warming,26b61192-351a-494d-84f8-411c3e4ccd48,aa6f4075-c70e-43f8-969e-b5625ad25449,1f0a4f32-3fc5-46c2-b4b4-81d27c213999 with no yield changes likely for small grain crops (for example, wheat) and yield reductions likely for row crops (for example, corn) in dryland croplands.553cbfc3-db1c-48de-a032-e5fe80a40e2d The competitive ability of weeds (primarily perennial forbs such as Linaria dalmatica and annual grasses such as Bromus tectorum) is likely to increase as well, with corresponding impacts to forage production,88242b58-0351-4baa-a2aa-e7dd8453bc98,3b8d04b3-3cc8-4bdb-a061-b163a37e8d4c as phenology is altered655d6652-08ae-4f55-960d-f06297e9eb9e,5bb98e9a-bb4f-4653-9ad2-8a34477a67dd and the growing season lengthens.278d41e7-cade-4892-8023-01ddcdd686be,5ce42823-d14b-46ab-96a3-9da6e2dc14ae Forage quality is expected to decline,26b61192-351a-494d-84f8-411c3e4ccd48,6efc0306-68e3-4c55-a328-1959e058fdd9,baf0f7c0-b7a9-402e-9270-018ce9496e88 and crop yields are likely to decrease if extreme temperature events (high daytime highs or nighttime lows) occur during critical pollination and grain fill periods.b1cbd298-7ce4-4106-a802-f8de95517c97

Numerous lines of research have addressed adaptation strategies for various parts of the agricultural sectorb1cbd298-7ce4-4106-a802-f8de95517c97,18bc8646-9568-4169-a526-daed1216a4f0,d18ab62e-a72a-44ad-a2a9-42cd2ede9f4b,ccd69866-4f69-42b6-9b16-0d20a2cccead,601aaa49-5886-48c3-bda5-8ef01b689716,d0b6d345-8a94-4b3a-a191-0f09505948a1

New information and remaining uncertainties:

While there is high confidence in future increases in temperature, uncertainties exist as to the changes in extreme events, including the spatiotemporal aspects of high-intensity rainfall events, snowstorms, and hailstorms. Perhaps most important are the uncertainties in the degree of precipitation variability from year to year8c567c0c-cc42-4372-94ea-7abf677704c6 that influence decision-making calendars for agricultural producers.

Assessment of confidence based on evidence:

There is very high confidence that longer growing seasons have already benefited agriculture in parts of the Northern Great Plains. There is very high confidence that increases in temperatures and atmospheric CO2 will likely increase production potential for the agricultural sector in the short term (the next 10–20 years) and that current adaptations already being implemented by a subset of producers in this region provide opportunities for assessment, further development, and adoption by the larger population of agricultural managers. There is very high confidence that rising temperatures and changes in extreme weather events are very likely to have negative impacts on parts of the region. Over the longer-term (through the end of the 21st century), predicted climate changes may require transformative changes in agricultural management, including regional shifts of agricultural practices and enterprises (very likely, high confidence).18bc8646-9568-4169-a526-daed1216a4f0,53b26b71-645b-460d-aecd-77e661106817

This finding was derived from scenario rcp_4_5
This finding was derived from scenario rcp_8_5

References :

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