Making Climate Forecasts More Useful to Farmers

Nov 09, 2009 By Don Comis
Making Climate Forecasts More Useful to Farmers
ARS meteorologist Jeanne Schneider and hydraulic engineer Jurgen Garbrecht are working with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration to translate seasonal climate forecasts into possible daily weather outcomes for farmers.

(PhysOrg.com) -- Climate forecasts are becoming more useful to farmers and ranchers, thanks to research by Agricultural Research Service (ARS) scientists and their cooperators.

Meteorologist Jeanne Schneider, hydraulic engineer Jurgen Garbrecht and hydrologist John Zhang at the ARS Great Plains Agroclimate and Natural Resources Research Unit in El Reno, Okla., are working with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) to translate seasonal climate forecasts into possible daily weather outcomes. This research supports the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s priority of helping and ranchers cope with climate change.

Currently, NOAA forecasts are seldom used in agriculture. One problem is that they cover too large an area for direct agricultural application.

Schneider found that NOAA’s predictions of periods of above-average temperatures were accurate enough to be possibly useful for agriculture over most of the lower 48 states. However, currently available forecasts for cooler-than-average temperatures are generally too unreliable for many uses anywhere in the country.

Forecasts for wetter- or drier-than-average conditions are mostly useful in only about 10 percent of the lower 48 states. In these regions, seasonal precipitation predictions may assist crop insurance programs and other agricultural enterprises that operate at regional scales.

Garbrecht, Schneider and Zhang are developing computer models for climate-related decision support. Schneider developed new methods to downscale seasonal forecasts to the farm scale and express them in one-month increments. Garbrecht modified an ARS-developed software program to generate daily weather outcomes corresponding to these monthly climate forecasts. And Zhang developed a winter wheat grazing model to assess potential impacts of the seasonal forecasts on forage, beef and grain production.

Forecast methodologies are improving rapidly, spurring major advances in NOAA forecasting.

Demonstrations of specific agricultural applications in regions that can currently benefit from forecasts should help spur wider use elsewhere as forecasts improve.

Read more about this and other climate change research in the November-December 2009 issue of Agricultural Research magazine.

Provided by USDA Agricultural Research Service

Explore further: New York state bans fracking

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Reducing Agriculture's Climate Change Footprint

Nov 04, 2009

(PhysOrg.com) -- Curbing greenhouse gas emissions from cultivated fields may require going beyond cutting back on nitrogen fertilizer and changing crop rotation cycles, according to research by Agricultural ...

Hardy New Corn Lines Released

Oct 16, 2009

(PhysOrg.com) -- Six new inbred maize lines with resistance to aflatoxin contamination have now been registered in the United States by the Agricultural Research Service (ARS). ARS plant pathologist Robert ...

Squeezing More Crop Out of Each Drop of Water

Oct 09, 2009

(PhysOrg.com) -- Studies in China and Colorado by Agricultural Research Service (ARS) scientists and cooperators have revealed some interesting tactics on how to irrigate with limited water, based on a crop’s ...

Recommended for you

UN sends team to clean up Bangladesh oil spill

6 hours ago

The United Nations said Thursday it has sent a team of international experts to Bangladesh to help clean up the world's largest mangrove forest, more than a week after it was hit by a huge oil spill.

How will climate change transform agriculture?

6 hours ago

Climate change impacts will require major but very uncertain transformations of global agriculture systems by mid-century, according to new research from the International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis.

Report: Radiation leak at nuclear dump was small

6 hours ago

A final report by independent researchers shows the radiation leak from the federal government's underground nuclear waste repository in southern New Mexico was small and localized.

Confucian thought and China's environmental dilemmas

11 hours ago

Conventional wisdom holds that China - the world's most populous country - is an inveterate polluter, that it puts economic goals above conservation in every instance. So China's recent moves toward an apparent ...

User comments : 0

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.