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Climate Research

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CR 14:185-194 (2000)  -  doi:10.3354/cr014185

Climate change and agriculture in the Mid-Atlantic Region

David G. Abler*, James S. Shortle

Department of Agricultural Economics and Rural Sociology, The Pennsylvania State University, University Park, Pennsylvania 16802, USA

ABSTRACT: Agriculture in the Mid-Atlantic Region, like agriculture worldwide, has an intrinsic relationship with climate. This article considers how climate change might affect future Mid-Atlantic agriculture. Our assessment differs from prior work in 2 important ways. First, prior assessments have for the most part examined the impacts of future climate change on present-day agriculture, neglecting the fact that agriculture is likely to change dramatically in the coming century independent of climate change. Second, previous assessments have focused almost exclusively on the impacts of climate change on agricultural production. Societal interest in agriculture, however, is much broader than production because agriculture is a source of both rural amenities and negative environmental impacts. Our assessment suggests that Mid-Atlantic crop and livestock production will probably not change significantly in either direction. There might be changes in the environmental impacts of agricultural production and land use, but we currently lack evidence on the magnitudes and even directions of these changes. Given that agriculture currently has significant negative impacts on water quality in many areas, including the Chesapeake Bay, this should be a high priority for research. In addition, research is needed to understand climate impacts on agriculture¹s contributions to wildlife habitat, rural landscape amenities and carbon sequestration.

KEY WORDS: Climate change · Agriculture · Mid-Atlantic · Environment · Adaptation

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