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Western Region
September 13 2013
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The Livestock and Poultry Environmental Learning Center


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Welcome to the Animal Agriculture in a Changing Climate Western Region Web Letter. Scroll down for current news and relevant information regarding climate change and agriculture that you might have missed. 


Do you have or know of any regional research efforts that should be highlight and shared? Please inform Liz Whitefield at e.whitefield@wsu.edu

 AACC Online Course
Register Now for the October Offering
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This 12-hour, self paced course is specifically designed for Extension educators and technical service providers across the nation who serve livestock and poultry producers. Topics include recent weather trends, climate impacts, adaptation and risk management, basic climate science, greenhouse gas emissions and mitigation practices, the basics of carbon markets, and communication strategies for dealing with this contentious issue. Please note that there will be new course sessions opening at the start of every month. Please visit the project website below below to view the introductory video, read the course brochure and syllabus, and to register for the course.


Western Region 
Financing Water Reform in the Western US (The Solutions Journal, September 2013)
To grasp the scale of water scarcity in the West, consider that earth fissures have opened up in Arizona from excessive groundwater pumping. In Southern California, lack of water has prompted the cancellation of scores of commercial and residential construction projects. In Northern California, a fight is brewing over the Sacramento-San Joaquin Bay Delta that may rival any in the state's political history. In 2013, the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation cut the allocation of water to farmers south of the Sacramento-San Joaquin river delta to 20 percent of their contracted amounts.

California farmers feel more threatened by climate policy than they do by climate change, according to a new study from the University of California, Davis. The study, published in the journal Global Environmental Change, found that the greatest climate risk Yolo County farmers believe they face in the future is not drought, water shortages, or temperature changes, but government regulations. However, this view did not make them less likely to participate in government incentive programs that would help their climate adaptation and mitigation efforts.
Teaching Climate Change to Skeptics

The Business and Environment Initiative at Harvard Business School aims to shift the debate about climate change from a political discussion to a practical conversation about risk and reward

(Harvard Business School, September 9)


"It's striking that anyone frames this question in terms of 'belief,' saying things like, 'I don't believe in climate change,' " says John D. Black Professor and BEI faculty cochair Forest L. Reinhardt. "I don't think this ought to be treated as a religious question. I think it's better seen as a classic managerial question about decision-making under uncertainty."  

International News 

Brazil Faces a Drop in Crops (The Guardian, September 3)

Country's status as world's major producer and exporter of food could be severely threatened unless its farming methods are urgently adapted to take account of climate change.


Scientists Call for Improved Understanding of How Extremes Alter the Carbon Cycle (CARBO-Extreme Project, EU)

The forests, grasslands and soils that cover the Earth's surface have soaked up about 25 to 30 percent of human emissions of carbon dioxide in the last 50 years. But as the climate changes, how well will these ecosystems continue to do this? That's a question posed in a perspective paper published online in the journal Nature. Markus Reichstein, an Earth systems scientist at the Max Planck Institute for Biogeochemistry and lead author of the paper, says there is considerable uncertainty about how carbon storage in terrestrial ecosystems might change as the climate changes. Researchers already know that extreme events can have a big negative effect on carbon storage.  


Met Office Promises New Tools to Better Understand Global Warming (The Guardian, September 13)
Better predictions of how extreme weather events will be affected by climate change and improvements in models to help understand more local impacts are set to improve understanding of global warming in the future, according to the UK's Met Office.The conclusions are part of a public briefing document prepared by scientists at the Met Office Hadley Centre, in advance of the release of a landmark report from the UN's climate science panel due out later this month.  


Climate Change in the Media

According to the data, 73 percent of respondents believe to some degree that climate change is happening, with 25 percent definitely agreeing and another 48 percent somewhat agreeing. More than half of the respondents (54 percent) agree that human activity, including industry and transportation, is a significant cause of climate change. While respondents acknowledge climate change, results also show a lowered sense of urgency.
"Here's a couple thoughts on what a future farm will look like. Number one, undoubtedly, a future farm will be much more attuned to the biological basis of the soil. Not that we don't know a lot about that now and we don't pay attention to it. But, there are concerns because the world will need much more food between now and 2050, because of the growing global population and the growing appetite of the global population.
So the question is how are we going to do that? And the big keyword in every industry, including agriculture, is sustainability. How can we do that in a way which produces more, but at the same time preserves the ability of the soil and farmland to produce in the future." 
Downscaled Climate Projections for Local Management Needs

Downscaled Climate Projections Suitable for Resource Management (American Geophysical Union, Sept 10)
The end result is a more spatially detailed picture of what future climate change could mean at local levels. natural resource managers, urban planners, and other decision makers face questions that they have little means to answer, such as "What is the range of possible maximum summer temperatures 25 years from now in my town, a local watershed, or a nearby national park?" or "What are the predicted changes in precipitation, and how might they affect water supplies in the coming decades for agricultural production or for our town's growing population?" Statistical downscaling methods are often introduced to construct climate change information at the
higher resolutions needed for resource management. Such methods distill information from GCM simulations and merge it with regional- to local- scale meteorological records.
Know of anyone who should receive this email? Please contact:
Liz Whitefield
Washington State University
Livestock Nutrient Management Program