Global relationships between cropland intensification and summer temperature extremes over the last 50 years

Nathaniel D. Mueller, Andrew Rhines, Ethan E. Butler, Deepak K. Ray, Stefan Siebert, N. Michele Holbrook, Peter Huybers

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

11 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Conversion of native ecosystems to cropland and the use of irrigation are considered dominant pathways through which agricultural land-use change alters regional climate. Recent research proposes that increases in cropland productivity, or intensification, also influences climate through increasing evapotranspiration. Increases in evapotranspiration are expected to have the greatest temperature influence on extremely hot summer days with high vapor pressure deficits. Here, the generalizability and importance of such relationships are assessed by examining historical land-use and climate trends in seven regions across the globe, each containing a major temperate or subtropical cropping area. Trends in summer high-temperature extremes are sequentially compared against trends in cropland area, area equipped for irrigation, precipitation, and summer cropping intensity. Trends in temperature extremes are estimated using quantile regression of weather station observations, and land-use data are from agricultural inventories and remote sensing. Intensification is the best predictor of trends in extreme temperatures among the factors that are considered and is generally associated with trends that are 0.2°- 0.4°C decade-1 cooler than in adjacent regions. Neither cropland area nor precipitation trends are systematically associated with extreme temperature trends across regions, although high temperatures are suppressed over those portions of central North America and East Asia experiencing growth in irrigation. Both the temperature trends associated with intensification and increased irrigation can be understood as a consequence of increased latent cooling. These results underscore that the weather experienced by crops is not entirely external but also depends on agricultural practices.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)7505-7528
Number of pages24
JournalJournal of Climate
Volume30
Issue number18
DOIs
StatePublished - Sep 1 2017

Fingerprint

summer
temperature
irrigation
evapotranspiration
cropping practice
land use
trend
climate
weather station
agricultural practice
vapor pressure
regional climate
land use change
agricultural land
cooling
remote sensing
weather
productivity
crop
ecosystem

Keywords

  • Agriculture
  • Atmosphere-land interaction
  • Extreme events
  • Trends

Cite this

Global relationships between cropland intensification and summer temperature extremes over the last 50 years. / Mueller, Nathaniel D.; Rhines, Andrew; Butler, Ethan E.; Ray, Deepak K.; Siebert, Stefan; Holbrook, N. Michele; Huybers, Peter.

In: Journal of Climate, Vol. 30, No. 18, 01.09.2017, p. 7505-7528.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Mueller, Nathaniel D. ; Rhines, Andrew ; Butler, Ethan E. ; Ray, Deepak K. ; Siebert, Stefan ; Holbrook, N. Michele ; Huybers, Peter. / Global relationships between cropland intensification and summer temperature extremes over the last 50 years. In: Journal of Climate. 2017 ; Vol. 30, No. 18. pp. 7505-7528.
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