SEGS Research: Climate Change


  • Climate change is predicted to impact terrestrial and aquatic systems across spatial and temporal scales. SEGS lab researchers are actively researching such impacts on a variety of systems, including crop pest phenology, lake nutrient dynamics, agricultural best management practices, and transportation planning processes.

  • Publications

  • Increase in crop losses to insect pests in a warming climate.

    Curtis A. Deutsch, Joshua J. Tewksbury, Michelle Tigchelaar, David S. Battisti, Scott C. Merrill, Raymond B. Huey, Rosamond L. Naylor

    2018. Science.

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    Insect pests substantially reduce yields of three staple grains—rice, maize, and wheat—but models assessing the agricultural impacts of global warming rarely consider crop losses to insects. We use established relationships between temperature and the population growth and metabolic rates of insects to estimate how and where climate warming will augment losses of rice, maize, and wheat to insects. Global yield losses of these grains are projected to increase by 10 to 25% per degree of global mean surface warming. Crop losses will be most acute in areas where warming increases both population growth and metabolic rates of insects. These conditions are centered primarily in temperate regions, where most grain is produced.
  • Temperature variability is a key component in accurately forecasting the effects of climate change on pest phenology.

    Merrill, S. C. and F. B. Peairs

    2016. Pest Management Science.

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    Models describing the effects of climate change on arthropod pest ecology are needed to help mitigate and adapt to forthcoming changes. Challenges arise because climate data are at resolutions that do not readily synchronize with arthropod biology. Here we explain how multiple sources of climate and weather data can be synthesized to quantify the effects of climate change on pest phenology. Predictions of phenological events differ substantially between models that incorporate scale-appropriate temperature variability and models that do not. As an illustrative example, we predicted adult emergence of a pest of sunflower, the sunflower stem weevil Cylindrocopturus adspersus (LeConte). Predictions of the timing of phenological events differed by an average of 11 days between models with different temperature variability inputs. Moreover, as temperature variability increases, developmental rates accelerate. Our work details a phenological modeling approach intended to help develop tools to plan for and mitigate the effects of climate change. Results show that selection of scale-appropriate temperature data is of more importance than selecting a climate change emission scenario. Predictions derived without appropriate temperature variability inputs will likely result in substantial phenological event miscalculations. Additionally, results suggest that increased temperature instability will lead to accelerated pest development.
  • Corn Flea Beetle & Stewarts Wilt in Corn: Shifts in Geographic Vulnerability of U.S. Corn Crops under Different Climate Change Scenarios

    Scott C. Merrill and Rachel E. Schattman

    July 11, 2016. USDA Climate Hubs.

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  • Adapting Bridge Infrastructure to Climate Change: Institutionalizing Resilience in Intergovernmental Transportation Planning Processes in the Northeastern United States.

    Schulz, A., Zia, A., and Koliba, C.

    2015. Mitigation and Adaptation Strategies for Global Change 20: 1-24.

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    Multi-level governance networks provide both opportunities and challenges to mainstream climate change adaptation due to their routine decision-making and coordination processes. This paper explores institutionalizing resilience and adaptation to climate change in the intergovernmental transportation planning processes that address bridge infrastructure in the Northeastern United States (USA), specifically in Vermont and Maine. The research presented here relies on nine interviews with policy-makers and planners, a survey of transportation project prioritization criteria, development of a longitudinal bridge funding database, and its integration with publicly available geospatial data. It presents a novel spatial analysis methodology, a modified version of which could be adopted by transportation agencies for prioritizing scarce adaptation funds. Although transportation agencies are under- taking a variety of mitigation activities to address business-as-usual needs, climate change adaptation and resilience efforts remain underprioritized. Adaptation is a global concern, but impacts vary dramatically between regions and require localized solutions. Bridges and culverts, which are especially vulnerable to climate-induced flooding impacts, have complex maintenance and design processes and are subject to convoluted adaptation planning proce- dures. Critical gaps in resources and knowledge are barriers to improved adaptation planning. Restructuring the transportation project prioritization procedures used by planning organiza- tions to explicitly include adaptation may provide a novel strategy to institutionalize resilience in transportation. These procedures must be considered in the context of the intergovernmental networks that exist to support transportation infrastructure. Although these networks will likely vary across countries, the approaches introduced here to study and address transportation infrastructure adaptation may be applied to many settings.
  • Vermont Agricultural Resilience in a Changing Climate: A Transdisciplinary and Participatory Action Research (PAR) Process.

    Schattman, R., Méndez, E., Westjik, K., Caswell, M., Conner, D., Koliba, C., Zia, A., Hurley, S., Adair, C., Berlin, L., and Darby, H.

    2014. Benkeblia, N. (Ed.) Agroecology, ecosystems and sustainability . Advances in Agroecology Series. CRC Press/Taylor and Francis.

  • Climate Change Governance and Accountability: Dilemmas of Performance Management in Complex Governance Networks.

    Zia, A. and Koliba, C.

    2011. Journal of Comparative Policy Analysis.

    How can accountability be institutionalized across complex governance networks that are dealing with the transboundary pollution problem of mitigating greenhouse gas emissions at multiple spatial, temporal and social scales? To address this question, we propose an accountability framework that enables comparison of the democratic, market and administrative anchorage of actor accountability within and across governance networks. A comparative analysis of performance measures in a sample of climate governance networks is undertaken. This comparative analysis identifies four critical performance management dilemmas in the areas of strategy, uncertain science, integration of multiple scales, and monitoring and verification of performance measures.