Climate Impacts & Adaptation

Washington’s agricultural landscape is characterized by a broad diversity of crop and livestock production systems — each of which have emerged within and adapted to well-defined agri-climatic niches in different parts of the state. Small changes in climatic trends or patterns (e.g. temperature, precipitation, extreme events, etc.) could increase climate-related production risks, necessitate shifts in production systems or management practices, and change pest pressures.

The availability and capture of solar radiation, water, and nutrients are basic factors for plant growth and survival. Temperature plays an important role in general biological activity, defining the length of the growing season, plant phenological development, the incidence of heat or freezing stresses, and other factors that affect crop productivity and quality. Plant growth and development are reduced or halted at low temperatures, cells are damaged by freezing temperatures, and high temperatures can be devastating during flowering and initial stages of yield formation. The interaction of these factors will determine the impact on crop productivity, management, and economics of agriculture under climate change.  All crops and associated pests respond to climatic shifts.  While we can currently project some crop and pest responses to climate change, the complexity of interactions between climate-driven variables makes accurate prediction difficult. We are seeking to better understand the complicated response of crops and pests under conditions of elevated CO2 and temperature to adequately assess the influence of climate change on crop production and farm management variables.

CSANR and partners have undertaken several projects in the past decade to shape our understanding of the impact of climate change on agricultural production in the region to inform regional investments in agricultural adaptation to climate change. These projects include an initial “triage” assessment of agricultural vulnerability (Washington Climate Change Impact Assessment Project), a broadened evaluation of crop vulnerability to climate change and irrigation (Columbia River Supply and Demand Forecast) and ongoing projects assessing wheat production (REACCH), expanded regional forecasting (BioEarth) and specific water-shed level considerations (WISDM).

Featured Climate Impacts & Adaptation Publications

Additional Climate Impacts & Adaptation Publications

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