Impacts of a Changing Climate on Animal Agriculture


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Weather and climate have both short-term and long-term impacts on livestock development and management. This talk will focus on longer-term trends in climate and drought over time across the United States and the impacts of changes in these factors on animal agriculture. We will start by examining the trends in temperature and precipitation that have occurred over different regions of the US over the past century and how they have varied from one area to another. Then we will look at how future climate is predicted and problems in making useful predictions. We will follow that by looking at some of the most reliable predictions of future climate and discuss the potential impacts on livestock health, forage and feed supply, and farm management practices and the importance of resilience in farm practices. We will conclude by identifying both the challenges and the opportunities for future livestock producers in a changing climate.

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Impacts of a Changing Climate on Animal Agriculture

  1. 1. 1A n i m a l A g r i c u l t u r e & C l i m a t e C h a n g eDeveloping National Extension Capacity to Address Issues Related to Animal Agriculture and Climate ChangeLivestock And PoultryEnvironmental Learning CenterThis project was supported by Agricultural and Food Research Initiative Competitive GrantNo. 2011-67003-30206 from the USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture.Impacts of a Changing Climate onAnimal AgriculturePam Knox, University of GeorgiaAgricultural
  2. 2. Outline1. Trends in temperature and precipitation across the US2. Predicting future climate: possibilities and problems3. Most reliable predictions of future climate4. Impacts of future climate on livestock and farmmanagement5. Challenges and opportunities for livestock farmers in thefuture
  3. 3. What is Climate?
  4. 4. Review of Present Climate Trends:
  5. 5. Regional Temperature Trends
  6. 6. Review of Present Climate Trends:US Temperature
  7. 7. Review of Present Climate Trends:Global Temperature
  8. 8. Review of Present Climate Trends:
  9. 9. Review of Present Climate Trends:PrecipitationWACONYGATX
  10. 10. Seasonal Precipitation Trends
  11. 11. Review of Present Climate Trends:Global Precipitation
  12. 12. How to Predict Future Climate• Continuation of present trends• Oscillations• General circulation model (GCM) usesenergy balance to calculate future climate
  13. 13. How to Predict ClimateYou can predict climate by predicting trends, but that dependson things continuing the same way they have in the past. Notalways a good assumption!Instead, climatologists use climate models to simulate thefuture climate based on physics and predictions of future CO2and other emissions.
  14. 14. Climate 101: Energy BalanceEnergy in – Energy out =Change in temperatureEnergy in > Energy out Increasing temperatureEnergy in > Energy out Decreasing temperature
  15. 15. Climate 101: Energy Balance
  16. 16. Climate Models
  17. 17. Increasing Model Complexity
  18. 18. Global Climate ModelsA model has to have a way to account for all theprocess in the atmosphere-ocean system To use acomputer, the information has to be divided intoindividual boxes or grids which are all connected.
  19. 19. Problems with Models• Coarse resolution leaves outmountains, Great Lakes, alterslocal conditions like coastlines• Simplification processes makerainfall less believable sincemost of it happens in sub-gridscale processes likethunderstorms• They are not very good atpredicting current climate,making them less believable• No El Niño, hurricanes
  20. 20. Weather vs. Climate ModelsWeather models are designedto predict detailed hourlyweather information for up to 7days across a continent.Emphasis: short term,individual storm evolutionClimate models are designed topredict multi-year climateconditions across the entire globe.Emphasis: long-term, seasonal tomulti-year average climateconditions
  21. 21. Changes in Atmospheric Composition
  22. 22. Models can separate out CO2 EffectsModels can be used to separate out the effects of individual factors to see whateffect each factor has on the temperature trend.
  23. 23. Scenario ModelingModelers use scenarios ofvarious projections of changingCO2, changing energy efficiency,etc. to produce a series of graphsgiving a range of expectedoutcomes.Observations don’t always agree withpredictions. So which is right?
  24. 24. Predicted Trends in TemperatureAcross the United States, temperatures are predicted to increaseover the next 100 years, but the amount of warming predicteddepends on the particular model used.
  25. 25.
  26. 26. Predicted Trends in Precipitation across the US is harder for the models to predict, andsome models show increased precipitation while others showdrying or no trend. Some datasets indicate that rainfall has becomemore intense with longer dry spells in between.
  27. 27.
  28. 28. Projected Change in Precipitation overnext 100 Years
  29. 29. Impacts of Changing Climateon Livestock and Poultry• Warmer temperatures would increase growing degree days forforage and crops but also weeds and insect pests and diseases.• Warmer temperatures, both daytime and nighttime, wouldincrease heat stress on livestock and increase the need for and thecosts of cooling.• Warmer temperatures will decrease heating costs in winter.
  30. 30. Impacts of Changing Climateon Livestock and Poultry• Warmer temperatures will increase evaporation from farm ponds,lakes and reservoirs, which could affect water availability andaffect the ability to irrigate.• Power generation from coal-burning and nuclear plants as well ashydropower from dams all depend on availability of water andpower prices could be negatively affected by warmertemperatures.
  31. 31. Impacts of Changing Climateon Livestock and Poultry• Uncertainty of rainfall predictions makes it hard to determinewhat to expect in the future, especially since there is already alot of natural variability in rainfall patterns by location andseason.• Higher intensity rainfall will increase erosion and runoff fromfarm fields and could increase localized flash flooding instorms.
  32. 32. Impacts of Changing Climateon Livestock and Poultry• Longer dry spells, coupled with warmer temperatures,will increase the likelihood of drought and will reduceaverage stream flows.• Seasonal changes in precipitation could affectpollination and harvesting of cereal crops.
  33. 33. What does the Future Hold?Challenges• Warmer temperaturesincrease diseases and pests• More stress on livestock• More potential for drought• More extremes• Market uncertainty• Economic costs of becomingresilient (for example,irrigation or power sources)• Changing tastes anddemographicsOpportunities• Population growth meanspotential for market growth• Parts of the US will seeincreased growing seasonand more rainfall• Other parts of the world willalso undergo climate change,leading to expanded markets• Smart management canimprove budget while alsotaking advantage of marketincentives
  34. 34. For More InformationOr contact me at:Pam
  35. 35. Livestock And PoultryEnvironmental Learning CenterFor a full list of references citedin this presentation, please visit:www.animalagclimatechange.orgThis project was supported by Agricultural and Food Research Initiative Competitive GrantNo. 2011-67003-30206 from the USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture.Developing National Extension Capacity to Address Issues Related to Animal Agriculture and Climate ChangeA n i m a l A g r i c u l t u r e & C l i m a t e C h a n g eDeveloping National Extension Capacity to Address Issues Related to Animal Agriculture and Climate Change