Hatfield, J. L., J. Antle, K. A. Garrett, R. C. Izaurralde, T. Mader, E. Marshall, M. Nearing, G. P. Robertson, and L. Ziska. 2020. Indicators of climate change in agricultural systems. Climatic Change 163:1719-1732.
Climate change affects all segments of the agricultural enterprise, and there is mounting evidence that the continuing warming trend with shifting seasonality and intensity in precipitation will increase the vulnerability of agricultural systems. Agricultural is a complex system within the USA encompassing a large number of crops and livestock systems, and development of indicators to provide a signal of the impact of climate change on these different systems would be beneficial to the development of strategies for effective adaptation practices. A series of indicators were assembled to determine their potential for assessing agricultural response to climate change in the near term and long term and those with immediate capability of being implemented and those requiring more development. The available literature reveals indicators on livestock related to heat stress, soil erosion related to changes in precipitation, soil carbon changes in response to increasing carbon dioxide and soil management practices, economic response to climate change in agricultural production, and crop progress and productivity. Crop progress and productivity changes are readily observed data with a historical record for some crops extending back to the mid-1800s. This length of historical record coupled with the county-level observations from each state where a crop is grown and emerging pest populations provides a detailed set of observations to assess the impact of a changing climate on agriculture. Continued refinement of tools to assess climate impacts on agriculture will provide guidance on strategies to adapt to climate change.
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