Apr 20th, 1:00 PM - 4:00 PM


Climate Variability and Water Infrastructure: Historical Experience in the Western United States

Faculty Sponsor

Dr. Scott Lowe and Dr. Zeynep Hansen


Greater historical perspective will enlighten current debate about future human responses to higher temperatures and increased precipitation variation. Agriculture is particularly vulnerable. In the literature on climate change and agriculture the empirical results are often mixed, with estimates of nonlinearities in key commodity yields beyond threshold temperatures; findings of higher profitability for US agriculture; and reports of high adjustment costs. These studies generally rely upon contemporary data. Yet, the expansion of agriculture across North America in the 19th and 20th centuries encountered greater climatic variation than is predicted from current climate change models. Accordingly, analysis of how those conditions were addressed and the impact on crop mixes and production can provide valuable information for addressing current climate variability. This study adds to the literature on adaption to climate shocks.