Climate Change in the Midwest: Impacts, Risks, Vulnerability, and Adaptation

By S. C. Pryor | Go to book overview

3.
Vulnerability and Adaptability of Agricultural
Systems in the Southeast United States to
Climate Variability and Climate Change

K. T. INGRAM, J. W. JONES, J. J. O’BRIEN,
M. C. RONCOLI, C. FRAISSE, N. E. BREUER,
W. L. BARTELS, D. F. ZIERDEN, AND D. LETSON


introduction

Climate change is a global phenomenon, but its impacts are not uniform across the globe. Thus, the impacts of climate change, as well as vulnerabilities and appropriate adaptation measures, must be addressed on a local or regional scale. Agricultural systems have great adaptive capacity but are highly sensitive to climate change. Prior research has suggested that climate change is more likely to adversely affect agriculture in the southern parts of the United States than in the north (Adams et al. 1999). Here, we focus on vulnerability and adaptation in the context of climate change over the southeast United States (SE), thus providing a counterpoint to the Midwestern focus of this book and articulating some successful strategies that might be adopted within the Midwest.

In contrast to the Midwest, where agriculture is dominated by relatively few commodities (see chapter 2), agriculture in the SE states of Alabama, Georgia, Florida, and North and South Carolina is far more diverse. These five states have 41 million acres in agriculture with total sales in 2007 exceeding $31 billion (NASS 2007). Poultry and eggs represent the sector with highest income in all states except Florida, for which fruits and tree nuts have the highest economic impact. For all of the states, cattle and nursery commodities are among the top earners. Other important crops include cotton, peanuts, pecans, swine, tobacco, diverse fruits and vegetables, corn, soybeans, and sugarcane. In addition, the region has significant aquaculture and extensive managed forests, though the National Agricultural Statistics Reports do not include forests.

Application of climate information to the management of risk in agriculture is a complex undertaking. Herein we present a case study of activities of the Southeast Climate Consortium (SECC) that focus on quantifying and mitigating risk posed by climate change. Most examples are drawn from the agricultural sector, but the SECC is now applying these methods to other sectors. Thus, in this chapter we

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