Dr. Steve Amosson, AgriLife Extension economist in Amarillo, and Dr. Seong Park, AgriLife Research economist in Vernon, are joining other economists to model the socio-economic effects of climate change on the Ogallala Aquifer.
The project, Economics and Groundwater-Use Implications of Bioenergy Feedstocks Production in the Ogallala Aquifer Program Region, is funded by the Ogallala Aquifer federal research program of the U.S. Department of Agriculture-Agricultural Research Service.
"The High Plains' crops, livestock and meat processing sectors, as well as oil and gas production, literally run on water from the Ogallala Aquifer," Amosson said. "However, this region is facing an uncertain future, after significant pumping for the past 50 years has caused water tables to fall generally across the aquifer."
With water demand so strong and the aquifer serving as the primary source of that water, it is important to know how climate change and biofuels development in the future could affect availability, Amosson said.
"Projections of a warmer and drier future for this region threaten to raise cropping water needs and thus, the rate of aquifer depletion, while also lowering the natural recharge," he said. "The current biofuels policy and associated high commodity prices contribute additional pressures on those water resources."
The information generated from the study will present a comprehensive characterization of the economic and groundwater implications regarding allocation of limited agricultural land and water between crops and biofuel feedstock production, Amosson said. Then they can determine potential implications for farm income and regional activity.
Park said if more farmers begin producing a cellulosic feedstock or a drought-tolerant one, those changes would affect the Ogallala Aquifer water use.
"We want to look at the effects, look at the changes of land use, and see what the regional impact will be both economically and socially," he said. "In addition to the job creation aspect, we want to look at the environmental or carbon footprint as related to water use. We want to see what water consumption versus greenhouse gas production is."
"What if carbon emission rates change, how does that affect things?" Park said. "This is a key point for our stakeholders."
It will be important for producers to know how to adjust water use, cropping and land-use practices, and water-management practices to adapt to climate change and increasing agricultural demands to provide sustainability of the Ogallala Aquifer, he said.
Through the study, Park said, they hope to be able to outline the implications of climate change for the region and biofuel feedstock production possibilities.
They will look particularly at cellulosic production using perennial grasses such as switchgrass on marginal land with fewer inputs of water and fertilizers.
"We think this study will make a contribution to science addressing the issues of groundwater sensitivity to climate change that are explicitly called out as needing further work in the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change special report on water," Park said.
The two-year project began in January with the assimilation of information already gathered by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change and local scientists, he said.
The plan is to develop over the next two years a dynamic multi-county land allocation model that integrates agriculture, hydrology, climate and geography, he said. This has already been completed for Dallam County, which is serving as the test county.
The economists will use land distribution of crops from 2009 as a baseline in each county, Park said. With that, they will calculate groundwater consumption and project the optimal land allocation or crop mix at the county level over the 2010-2050 period using IPCC climate change scenarios and projected regional mandates for crop ethanol production.
Another component of the study will include greenhouse gas emissions and carbon sequestration, based on the Forest and Agricultural Sector Optimization Model-Greenhouse Gas Version developed by a team led by Dr. Bruce McCarl, Nobel laureate and Texas A&M University Distinguished and Regents professor of agricultural economics.
"Once it is developed, this linked hydrological land-use regionalized groundwater model can be used to address a variety of future issues regarding land-use and water-use planning," Park said.
Dr. Seong Park | EurekAlert!
A sudden drop in outdoor temperature increases the risk of respiratory infections
11.01.2017 | University of Gothenburg
Urbanization to convert 300,000 km2 of prime croplands
27.12.2016 | Mercator Research Institute on Global Commons and Climate Change (MCC) gGmbH
Yersiniae cause severe intestinal infections. Studies using Yersinia pseudotuberculosis as a model organism aim to elucidate the infection mechanisms of these...
Researchers from the University of Hamburg in Germany, in collaboration with colleagues from the University of Aarhus in Denmark, have synthesized a new superconducting material by growing a few layers of an antiferromagnetic transition-metal chalcogenide on a bismuth-based topological insulator, both being non-superconducting materials.
While superconductivity and magnetism are generally believed to be mutually exclusive, surprisingly, in this new material, superconducting correlations...
Laser-driving of semimetals allows creating novel quasiparticle states within condensed matter systems and switching between different states on ultrafast time scales
Studying properties of fundamental particles in condensed matter systems is a promising approach to quantum field theory. Quasiparticles offer the opportunity...
Among the general public, solar thermal energy is currently associated with dark blue, rectangular collectors on building roofs. Technologies are needed for aesthetically high quality architecture which offer the architect more room for manoeuvre when it comes to low- and plus-energy buildings. With the “ArKol” project, researchers at Fraunhofer ISE together with partners are currently developing two façade collectors for solar thermal energy generation, which permit a high degree of design flexibility: a strip collector for opaque façade sections and a solar thermal blind for transparent sections. The current state of the two developments will be presented at the BAU 2017 trade fair.
As part of the “ArKol – development of architecturally highly integrated façade collectors with heat pipes” project, Fraunhofer ISE together with its partners...
At TU Wien, an alternative for resource intensive formwork for the construction of concrete domes was developed. It is now used in a test dome for the Austrian Federal Railways Infrastructure (ÖBB Infrastruktur).
Concrete shells are efficient structures, but not very resource efficient. The formwork for the construction of concrete domes alone requires a high amount of...
10.01.2017 | Event News
09.01.2017 | Event News
05.01.2017 | Event News
18.01.2017 | Life Sciences
18.01.2017 | Health and Medicine
17.01.2017 | Earth Sciences