Agriculture and forestry under climate pressure

 

This challenge aims to produce a systemic understanding of the impacts of climate change on food and fibre production systems, and the consequences for water resources and LUM, in order to identify solutions for increased resilience to climate change. The first focus of this challenge will be to develop in RL2.1 a novel approach for systematically testing the responses of food and fibre production systems to climate change, separating trends and extreme events such as droughts and heatwaves. This will be based on the analysis of recent changes documented by observations and of future scenarios using regional climate models to study how changes in the patterns, frequency and severity of extreme events affect food, water and bioenergy production in ecosystem and hydrological models. The second focus of this challenge will be to understand and quantify the strong interdependencies between climatic variability and adaptation and mitigation trajectories in the LUM sector, given the fact that the effectiveness of any mitigation strategy explored in RL 1 depends heavily on the response of the GHG balance of ecosystems to climate change. We will start from SSP contrasted storylines, which describe high vs. low adaptation and mitigation challenges. The implications of these storylines will be translated in terms of representative agricultural and forestry pathways accounting for both incremental and transformative changes in the adaptation of LUM to climate change. New production systems that could become transformational in the future being crucial for this RL, we will analyse the large body of existing observations and experiments (field trials, ecosystem manipulative experiments) and develop new models of managed lands that can match the demand for products in both quantity and quality, while reducing environmental impacts and providing adaptation to climate change. The results from this research will feed the integrated transition scenarios of RL3.

 

Research line 2.1: Effect of recent climate change (trends and extremes) on crop and livestock production

This research line will focus on observed relationships between recent agricultural production changes and climate, with a focus on extreme events, and on the effects of future changes in extreme climate events. In the first step, we will re-analyze the impact on yield of recent extreme events, including their lagged effects (e.g. the 2003 and 2010 droughts and heatwaves in Western Europe and Russia, the extreme 2006 drought in Southern China) in collaboration with IIASA, U. Beijing, Chinese Academy for Agricultural Sciences for China and U. Pretoria. To do so, we will use yield statistics, models and remote sensing data, including new high-resolution products that capture the high spatial heterogeneity of the response of managed ecosystems. Then, the effects of future changes in climate (and CO2) will be analysed from the output of regional climate models (WCRP-CORDEX ) to account for the impacts of future changes in the occurrence and severity of extremes. In the second step, we will look at causes of the recent yield stagnation in Europe, China and US in relation to climate trends and other factors. This work will involve statistical models (Lobell et al. 2011), meta-analysis of field trials and manipulative experiments results, as well as of regional and global agricultural statistics (yield, food and land prices), and the CLAND-CMP platform of models of crop and livestock production systems.

 

Research line 2.2: Optimizing food production systems under climate and environmental pressure

This research line will deal with options for adapting food production systems to climate change, based on SSP scenarios and on the results of RL2.1. The first step will be to review the contributions of crop and livestock management practices to climate-change adaptation, providing qualitative and quantitative inputs to agricultural models, at regional and global scales. The practices explored will include changes in tillage and cropping systems, resistant crop varieties, cultivar mixtures, integrated crop-livestock systems and agroforestry, landscape scale planning and agro-ecological approaches. In the second step, we will consider in addition to agricultural practices focused on maintaining yield under climate change, other constraints such as the demands of diversified diets, reduced water use, reduced use of pesticides and antibiotics, and biodiversity conservation. Multiple-criteria analyses of agro-ecosystem services will be developed to determine novel ecologically-based production systems leading to alternative agricultural pathways for the SSP storylines considering both adaptation and mitigation functions of LUM, meeting the second frontier science priority. In the last phase, we will address the interplay between the organisation of upstream (seeds, fertilizers) and downstream food production (food and non-food products) for novel ecologically-based production systems, taking into account options to reduce food waste and maintain healthy diets (Rockström et al. 2007), meeting the third frontier science priority. The teams will perform this analysis first at the scale of France, starting from the results of the national study of agricultural ecosystem services (EFESE) and extend it to other regions, with external collaborations.

 

Research line 2.3: Optimizing forest management under climate pressure

This research line is about options for forest management that could reinforce the capacity to adapt to climate change while sustaining bioenergy and wood demand. This RL will led by IDEEV and LSCE in collaboration other forest research experts in France (INRA Bordeaux, forest research centre of Nancy, Labex ARBRE ) as well as with the European Forest Institute (EFI) and IIASA in Europe and private and public forest managers. In a first step, this RL will be focused on European forests that are intensively managed for biomass production and other ecosystem services (e.g. water resources), and then extended to other countries with different forest management strategies. Models of forest carbon-water-nitrogen cycling, growth dynamics and wood production will be used to explore how the impacts of climate change impacts can be reduced by shifts in forestry practices (e.g. thinning to reduce drought stress, changed forest rotations), new tree genotypes and species with an improved resistance to heat and drought stress, and strategies to maintain soil carbon stocks. The results from this RL will help to define long-term forestry pathways in terms of biological, economical and social viability for the SSP storylines. Models will be evaluated and improved against observations, including with ICOS flux towers, forest inventories and monitoring networks (e.g. European ICP , French RENECOFOR ) and new remote sensing data (e.g. fluorescence, PRI-index).