Future soil moisture and temperature extremes imply expanding suitability for rainfed agriculture in temperate drylands

Scientific Reports
By: , and 

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Abstract

The distribution of rainfed agriculture is expected to respond to climate change and human population growth. However, conditions that support rainfed agriculture are driven by interactions among climate, including climate extremes, and soil moisture availability that have not been well defined. In the temperate regions that support much of the world’s agriculture, these interactions are complicated by seasonal temperature fluctuations that can decouple climate and soil moisture. Here, we show that suitability to support rainfed agriculture can be effectively represented by the interactive effects of just two variables: suitability increases where warm conditions occur with wet soil, and suitability decreases with extreme high temperatures. 21st century projections based on ecohydrological modeling of downscaled climate forecasts imply geographic shifts and overall increases in the area suitable for rainfed agriculture in temperate regions, especially at high latitudes, and pronounced, albeit less widespread, declines in suitable areas in low latitude drylands, especially in Europe. These results quantify the integrative direct and indirect impact of rising temperatures on rainfed agriculture.

Additional publication details

Publication type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Title Future soil moisture and temperature extremes imply expanding suitability for rainfed agriculture in temperate drylands
Series title Scientific Reports
DOI 10.1038/s41598-017-13165-x
Volume 7
Year Published 2017
Language English
Publisher MacMillan Publishers
Contributing office(s) Southwest Biological Science Center, John Wesley Powell Center for Analysis and Synthesis
Description 12923; 11 p.