CR 40:199-210 (2009)  -  doi:10.3354/cr00807

Decadal climate variability in the Argentine Pampas: regional impacts of plausible climate scenarios on agricultural systems

Guillermo Podestá1,*, Federico Bert2, Balaji Rajagopalan3, Somkiat Apipattanavis3, Carlos Laciana4, Elke Weber5, William Easterling6, Richard Katz7, David Letson1, Angel Menendez2

1Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science, University of Miami, 4600 Rickenbacker Causeway, Miami, Florida 33149, USA
2Universidad de Buenos Aires, Av. San Martín 4453, Buenos Aires, Argentina
3Department of Civil, Environmental, and Architectural Engineering, University of Colorado, Campus Box 428, ECOT 541, Boulder, Colorado 80309, USA
4Department of Psychology and Business School, Columbia University, Uris Hall 716, 3022 Broadway, New York, New York 10027-6902, USA
5College of Earth and Mineral Sciences, The Pennsylvania State University, 116 Deike Building, University Park, Pennsylvania 16802, USA
6Institute for the Study of Society and Environment, National Center for Atmospheric Research, PO Box 3000, Boulder, Colorado 80307, USA

ABSTRACT: The Pampas of Argentina have shown some of the most consistently increasing trends in precipitation during the 20th century. The rainfall increase has partly contributed to a significant expansion of agricultural area, particularly in climatically marginal regions of the Pampas. However, it is unclear if current agricultural production systems, which evolved partly in response to enhanced climate conditions, may remain viable if (as entirely possible) climate reverts to a drier epoch. We assess the potential impacts of a plausible decreasing trend in precipitation on the economic sustainability of 2 contrasting agricultural systems in the Pampas: Pergamino, in the most productive subregion of the Pampas, and Pilar, in the northern, semi-arid margin of the region. Also, we explore the scope for adaptation to changing climate. In the case where there is no adaptation, if precipitation decreases, as is plausible, impacts may be quite different between locations: whereas in Pergamino crop economic returns would not change noticeably, the more marginal Pilar would experience a marked decrease in profits and an increase in production risks. However, potential negative impacts might be mitigated, in part, if farmers adapt their agronomic management using current available technology or know-how.

KEY WORDS: Climate impacts · Climate scenarios · Adaptation · Decision-making · Cumulative prospect theory · Crop models · Argentina · Land allocation · Genetic algorithms

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Cite this article as: Podestá G, Bert F, Rajagopalan B, Apipattanavis S and others (2009) Decadal climate variability in the Argentine Pampas: regional impacts of plausible climate scenarios on agricultural systems. Clim Res 40:199-210

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