Climate change in the eastern Corn Belt Region (ECBR) is projected to bring higher temperatures, more variable and extreme levels of precipitation, and longer growing seasons. While these possibilities imply opportunity for increased production in the ECBR, managing change sustainably will be increasingly challenging. We propose research that will elevate the capacity of decision makers in the ECBR to adapt to a variable climate.
Our approach is to identify how changing seasonal and extreme precipitation patterns induce changes in land use and management patterns driven by heterogeneous farmer adaptations. To assess multiple goals related to agricultural production, conservation, and societal well-being, we will build an integrated set of models of the climate system, regional economy, and agroecological outcomes and use this to evaluate policies and programs by projecting their impacts on the sustainability and resilience of this regional agroecosystem under varying futures. A participatory modeling approach is used throughout the project to engage stakeholders in developing the model scenarios and identifying relevant adaptations and policies.
The expected key outcomes include: (i) innovations in coupling downscaled climate projections with models of heterogeneous farmer behavior, regional economics, and land use/management patterns; (ii) increased awareness of how climate has changed over the last century in the ECBR; (iii) increased understanding of future climate and likely agroecosystem responses in the ECBR; and (iv) improved stakeholder confidence in the ability to mitigate climate-induced risks through more informed land use and management.