The Agricultural Model Intercomparison and Improvement Project (AgMIP) is a major international collaborative effort to improve the state of agricultural simulation and to understand climate impacts on the agricultural sector at global and regional scales.
Agricultural risks are growing. Decision-makers need probabilistic risk analysis to identify and prioritize effective adaptation and mitigation strategies.
Consistency is key. AgMIP is establishing research standards so future studies no longer use different assumptions across regions and models.
Ongoing solutions. AgMIP is developing a rigorous process to evaluate agricultural models, which results in continuous model improvement.
In this video Alex Ruane, AgMIP Science Coordinator, explains how model intercomparison and improvement can impact food security.
Improve agricultural models based on their intercomparison and evaluation using high-quality global and regional data and best scientific practices, and document improvements for use in
Incorporate state-of-the-art climate, crop/livestock, and agricultural economic model improvements with stakeholder input into coordinated multi-model regional and global assessments of climate impacts and adaptation and of other key aspects of food systems.
Utilize multiple models, scenarios, locations, crops/livestock, and participants to explore uncertainty and the effects of data and methodological choices.
Collaborate with regional experts in agronomy, animal sciences, economics, and climate to build a strong basis for model applications, addressing key climate-related questions, adaptation priorities, and sustainable intensification.
Improve scientific and adaptive capacity in modeling for major agricultural regions in the developing and developed world, with a focus on vulnerable regions.
Develop modeling frameworks to facilitate data-sharing and to identify and evaluate promising adaptation technologies and policies and to prioritize strategies.
Agriculture and Climate Change
The worldwide agricultural sector faces the significant challenge of increasing production to provide food security for a population projected to rise to 9 billion by mid-century while protecting the environment and the functioning of ecosystems. This challenge is compounded by the need to adapt to climate change by taking advantage of potential benefits and by minimizing the potentially negative impacts to agricultural production and economies. The Agricultural Model Intercomparison and Improvement Project (AgMIP) seeks to improve substantially the characterization of world food security under climate change and to enhance adaptation capacity in both developing and developed countries.
Climate changes affecting the agricultural sector present a substantial challenge for food security, nutrition, and livelihoods. Crops and livestock are sensitive to numerous climate variables – with benefits from higher carbon dioxide concentrations but potentially detrimental changes in rainfall patterns as well as higher nighttime temperatures, heat waves, and the loss of coastal agricultural land to sea level rise. Climate change is also expected to alter the frequency and magnitude of extreme events such as droughts and floods, which can destroy crop plantations and kill livestock. Shifts in the seasonality and frequency of expected weather patterns may also require adjustments in planting calendars. Other stresses, exacerbated by climate change include weeds, diseases, and insect pests that may find the new climate more suitable. Given that agriculture is a managed system, climatic thresholds related to various crops—e.g. the damaging thresholds of specific variables like nighttime temperatures, solar radiation, and rainfall—are known in many cases, although the impacts of additional variables and specific impacts on local farming systems need further research (Rosenzweig and Hillel, 2015).
Modeling Climate Change Impacts
Projections of these future climate changes allow for the planning and uptake of many existing options and technologies that build resilience in the agriculture sector. These include shifts in sowing and harvest windows, adjustments in plant density, changes in water application that improve water efficiency, best management practices that improve soils and reduce erosion, and planting of cultivars and species with greater tolerance to extremes like droughts and floods. These practices may be necessary to adapt to climate change even as progress is made toward closing yield gaps through agricultural development. (Antle, 2015; Valdivia, 2015)
Analyses of the agricultural impacts of climate variability and change require a transdisciplinary effort to consistently link state-of-the-art climate scenarios to crop and economic models. Crop model outputs are aggregated as inputs to regional and global economic models to determine regional vulnerabilities, changes in comparative advantage, price effects, and potential adaptation strategies in the agricultural sector. Climate, crop model, economics, and information technology protocols are presented to guide coordinated AgMIP research activities around the world, along with cross-cutting themes that address aggregation, uncertainty, and the development of Representative Agricultural Pathways (RAPs) to enable testing of climate change adaptations in the context of other global trends. The organization of research activities by geographic region and specific crops is described, along with project milestones.
AgMIP aims to utilize intercomparisons of these various types of methods to improve crop and economic models and ensemble projections and to produce enhanced assessments by the crop and economic modeling communities researching climate change agricultural impacts and adaptation.