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 Publications

Evaluating Compost Application for Soil Carbon Sequestration on Agricultural Land and Compost Buy-Back Programs in Washington State (PDF)

Ball, K.R., M.P. Brady, I.C. Burke, D.P. Collins, K.M. Hills, C.E. Kruger, B. Stone, E.L. Taylor, and G.G. Yorgey. Evaluating Compost Application for Soil Carbon Sequestration on Agricultural Land and Compost Buy-Back Programs in Washington State. Report to the Washington State Legislature. Center for Sustaining Agriculture & Natural Resources, Washington State University, Wenatchee, WA

Fire Refugia: Islands of Possibilities (PDF)

Saari, B. 2022. Fire Refugia: Islands of Possibilities. FireEarth Science Brief No. 14. Center for Sustaining Agriculture and Natural Resources, Washington State University.

The Effects of Fire Intensity on Trees and Productivity (PDF)

Kirkpatrick, A.W. 2021. The Effects of Fire Intensity on Trees and Productivity. FireEarth Science Brief No. 11. Center for Sustaining Agriculture and Natural Resources, Washington State University.

Fire Intensity Impacts on Net Primary Productivity (PDF)

Kirkpatrick, A.W. 2021. Fire Intensity Impacts on Net Primary Productivity. FireEarth Science Brief No. 06. Center for Sustaining Agriculture and Natural Resources, Washington State University.

Assessing Landscape Vulnerability to Wildfire (PDF)

Saari, B. and Hall, S.A. 2021. Assessing Landscape Vulnerability to Wildfire. FireEarth Science Brief No. 04. Center for Sustaining Agriculture and Natural Resources, Washington State University.

Farmer-to-Farmer & Rancher-to-Rancher Case Studies Series

Authors include: Yorgey, G., Borrelli, K., Painter, K., Davis, H., Hall, S., Hudson, T., Neibergs, S., Reeves, M., Kruger, C., McGuire A., Finkelnburg, D., Roe, D., Brooks, E., and Kantor, S. 2016-2019. PNW Extension Publications and videos. These series explore strategies that innovative regional farmers and ranchers are using that enhance resilience to climate change and […]

Climate Considerations (PDF)

Allen, Kruger, C.E., Abatzoglou, J., K. Rajagopalan and E.M. Kirby. 2017. Chapter 1 In Yorgey, G. and C. Kruger, eds. Advances in Dryland Production Systems in the Pacific Northwest. Washington State University Extension, Pullman, WA.

Agriculture Climate Network

The AgClimate Network is a web-based hub for communication between regional scientists and stakeholders about climate change and agricultural and natural resources topics. A consortium of institutions including Oregon State University, University of Idaho, and Washington State University, and the United States Department of Agriculture Northwest Climate Hub support individuals who contribute content to this […]

Agriculture – Impacts, Adaptation, and Mitigation (PDF)

Sanford D. Eigenbrode, Susan M. Capalbo, Laurie L. Houston, Jodi Johnson-Maynard, Chad Kruger, & Beau Olen. Chapter 6 in, Dalton, M.M., P.W. Mote, and A.K. Snover [Eds.]. 2013. Climate Change in the Northwest: Implications for Our Landscapes, Waters, and Communities. Washington, D.C. Island Press.

Additional Publications

WRDC Rural Connections Newsletter: Climate Change issue (PDF)

Western Rural Development Center’s Rural Connections Newsletter Climate Change issue June 2011 contains three articles written by CSANR faculty and staff members. View the entire issue here and look for these titles: Anaerobic Digestion in the Pacific Northwest; Climate Change and Family Forest Landowners in the Pacific Northwest: Attitudes & Understanding; Climate Change and Agriculture in […]

Browse all Climate Impacts & Adaptation Publications

External Links

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