Project Team, Advisory Board, and Overview

Project Team & Roles

Project Leader

  • Robyn Wilson – School of Environment and Natural Resources/School of Communication (by courtesy)
    • Farmer behavioral modeling (Objective 3)

Principal Investigators & Senior Personnel

  • Yongyang Cai – Department of Agricultural, Environmental, and Development Economics (AEDE)/Sustainability Institute
    • Integrated model developer and economist (Objective 4)
  • Jason Cervenec – Byrd Center/State Climate Office of Ohio
    • Farmer and stakeholder engagement (Objective 7)
  • Elena Irwin – Department of Agricultural, Environmental, and Development Economics (AEDE)/Sustainability Institute
    • Multi-sector regional economic and land use modeling (Objective 4)
    • Scenarios and optimal policy analysis (Objective 6)
  • Gregory Labarge – OSU Extension
  • Bryan Mark – Byrd Center/Department of Geography/State Climate Office of Ohio
    • Developing scaled climate projections that integrate with other model components and inform future scenarios (Objectives 2 and 3)
    • Archiving project data, disseminating outcomes, and developing education and outreach materials (Objective 7)
  • Alan Randall – Department of Agricultural, Environmental, and Development Economics (AEDE)
    • Design of regional model and interpretation of results (Objective 4)
    • Develop risk-averse and robust policy designs (Objective 6)
  • Aaron Wilson – Byrd Center/OSU Extension/State Climate Office of Ohio
  • Kaiguang Zhao – School of Environment and Natural Resources
    •  Model change in ecosystem services (Objective 5)

Postdocs & Students

  • Maggie Beetstra – School of Environment and Natural Resources
  • Mary Doidge – School of Environment and Natural Resources
  • Emily Sambuco – Byrd Center/Department of Geography


  • Kristi Lekies – School of Environment and Natural Resources

Advisory Board

  • Matt Adams – Ag Credit
  • Nate Andre – Farmer
  • Larry Antosch – Ohio Farm Bureau
  • Mark Apelt – Becks Hybrid
  • Kevin Elder – Farmer
  • Steve Emery – Nutrien Ag Solutions
  • Jeff Goetz – The Andersons
  • Gail Hesse – Great Lakes Water Program
  • Kirk Merritt – Ohio Soybean Council
  • Tadd Nicholson – Ohio Corn and Wheat Growers Association
  • Dennis Todey – Midwest Climate Hub
  • Carl Zulauf – OSU Emeritus Ag Policy

Project Overview

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.

Obj 1: Engage stakeholders

  • Goals: Use participatory processes to improve the usefulness of our models and legitimacy of the policy analysis
  • Approach: Work with key stakeholder groups to guide our selections for scenario and policy analysis
  • Outcome: More accurate and familiar modeling framework and set of policy recommendations that are more likely to be applied

Obj 2: Develop future climate projections

  • Goal: To understand the impact of climate variability on ag systems across the ECBR
  • Approach: Assess and analyze high-resolution climate data, specifically projections of future precipitation and temperature variability for this region, and critically evaluate the particular stresses that might impact ag systems
  • Outcome: A clearly defined set of scenarios of future climate variability scaled to the ECBR

Obj 3: Identify farmer adaptations

  • Goal: To model farmer land use/management adaptations to climate variability and broader human system changes
  • Approach: Specify the relevant set of farmer adaptations under future scenarios using a combo of qualitative, historical and experimental data.
  • Outcome: A model of the likely adaptations of diverse farmers to climate uncertainty under varying market, policy and technological conditions

Obj 4: Develop regional economic model

  • Goal: To develop a model that accounts for price feedbacks in simulating land use and management adaptations
  • Approach: Develop the model without explicit uncertainty and simulate it for a baseline climate scenario, then parameterize it to account for uncertainty and heterogeneous farmer behavior
  • Outcome: A fully specified model of the regional economy that accounts for spatial heterogeneity and uncertainty, and generates predictions in the allocation of land to different uses and management for future climate scenarios.

Obj 5: Model change in ecosystem services

  • Goal: Determine the extent to which climate variability and changes in farmer land use/mgmt will impact ecosystem services
  • Approach: Quantify these impacts using spatially explicit models of farmer land use/mgmt decisions and process-based agroecosystem models
  • Outcome: An improved understanding of the realistic impacts of climate change on crop production, carbon sequestration, water quality and biophysical climate regulation.

Obj 6: Identify optimal policies

  • Goal: Find the socially optimal agriculture, energy and conservation policies and programs
  • Approach: Create a principal-agent model in which the government decides on an ensemble of policies, while farmers and firms choose their optimal decisions (land use transitions, crops, investments)
  • Outcome: A novel framework that embeds behavioral heterogeneity, land and labor markets, and projected changes in agroecological outcomes into a model that determines the optimal policy ensemble for a given future climate scenario and specified level of uncertainty

Obj 7: Engage farmers & stakeholders

  • Goal: Make climate variability and climate change adaptation strategies relevant for a diverse set of stakeholders
  • Approach: In-person and online dissemination of products related to four key outputs: climate trajectories, farmer profiles, agroecosystem impacts and optimal policies
  • Outcome: Enhanced stakeholder capacity to conduct climate science programming, engage farm clientele, and lobby for more informed policy making