Representative Agricultural Pathways

To enable a simulation framework with consistent climate, economics, and field-level assumptions across a range of scales, a cross-cutting activity is building on previous and current agricultural scenario development to create a set of Representative Agricultural Pathways (RAPs). These provide a linked set of necessary variables for field-level crop models and regional and global economic models in AgMIP assessments (Figure). These scenarios help to constrain uncertainty in each region to allow stakeholders and policymakers to assess risk, and also contribute to monitoring, evaluation, and decision-making.

To ensure that climate and agricultural scenarios are not contradictory, the basis for the RAPs is the set of SRES emissions scenarios and RCPs used in the IPCC AR4 and AR5, respectively (SRES, 2000; Taylor et al., 2009). The RAP’s description of national, regional, and global policy also links to the socio-economic scenarios developed for IPCC AR4 and AR5 (Moss et al., 2010). Potential RAPs scenario variables for economic models include population growth, income growth, technology changes, as well as trade, investment, energy, and agricultural policy.

AgMIP RAPs also act to capture plausible farm-level improvements, as climate change impacts assessments that assume static farm management are generally pessimistic in their lack of development and adaptation (Burton et al., 2001). To better model crops at the farm scale, the economic, technological, and scientific development of each agricultural region will be used to specify plausible regional land use, irrigation, fertilizer and chemical applications, regional shifts in crop species, and improved genetic characteristics of cultivars that may be developed or more widely distributed in the coming decades. These more detailed analyses of adaptation will also improve the capacity to understand potential spatial relocation of crops in response to climate change, using both regional and global economic models.

Several RAPs will be created and will specify evolving conditions for farm-level management options and country/regional-level economic policies over the 21st century. AgMIP RAPs will facilitate an important assessment of the scale-dependent and intertwining roles of climate change, economic development, and adaptation on the agricultural sector. It is also our hope that AgMIP RAPs will act to standardize agricultural model simulations of future conditions for research projects in the coming years, allowing independent researchers to directly compare their results and building the transdisciplinary community of agricultural modeling.


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Moss, R.H., Edmonds, J.A., Hibbard, K.A., Manning, M.R., Rose, S.K., van Vuuren, D.P., Carter, T.R.,
Emori, S., Kainuma, M., Kram, T., Meehl, G.A., Mitchell, J.F.B., Nakicenovic, N., Riahi, K., Smith, S.J., Stouffer, R.J., Thomson, A.M., Weyant, J.P., Wilbanks, T., 2010. The next generation of scenarios for climate change research and assessment. Nature. 463, 747-756.

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SRES, 2000. Special Report on Emissions Scenarios, A Special Report of Working Group III of the
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Taylor, K.E., Stouffer, R.J., and Meehl, G.A., 2009. A summary of the CMIP5 Experiment Design.