15 November 2018

Analyzing the impacts of climate change on US agriculture

Options Winter 2018/19: The results of a recent IIASA study highlighted the importance of accounting for global climate change when conducting regional assessments.

 © Deshacam | Dreamstime

© Deshacam | Dreamstime

Among all the ramifications of climate change, perhaps none is more significant than the impact it has on agriculture. In the United States, agriculture, food, and related industries contribute almost a trillion dollars to the economy each year.  

Numerous studies have evaluated the adverse impacts of climate change on agriculture, but most of them only explored its impact on a single country or region without accounting for impacts on the rest of the world. Consequently, many studies produce biased results. 

A new study, however, explicitly quantifies the importance of accounting for global climate change when conducting regional assessments. The results show that indirect impacts of climate change from other regions of the world can be more important than the direct domestic impacts for markets connected by international trade.  

“In regions that are deeply integrated in global markets, the most important effects of climate change on the agricultural sector may come through international trade from outside the region rather than directly from within,” explains Petr Havlik, an IIASA researcher and coauthor of the new study. “As our study shows, regional assessments of climate change impacts that ignore international trade and climate change in the rest of the world may get even the sign of the domestic impacts wrong.”  

Text by Jeremy Summers

Further information

Baker JS, Havlik P, Beach R, Leclere D, Schmid E, Valin H, Cole J, Creason J, et al. (2018). Evaluating the effects of climate change on US agricultural systems: sensitivity to regional impact and trade expansion scenarios. Environmental Research Letters 13 (6): e064019

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Last edited: 06 November 2018


Petr Havlik

ERD Center Head and Acting Program Director

Ecosystems Services and Management

T +43(0) 2236 807 511

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