A sustainable food supply is critical, but climate change is having a dramatic effect on agriculture in most parts of the world. In this paper I develop a statistical framework for modeling climate changes, and I produce a characterization that separates changes in annual average temperatures from changing variability within each year, to facilitate the analysis of the effects of these different factors. The data I use are records from weather stations on the Canadian Prairies since the 1870s. Many of the serious impacts on agriculture are due to within-year variation, and it is important to separate these from annual shifts. To the farmer, a gradual increase in the annual average temperature of one degree per century has a fairly small effect, particularly given that most of the increase, as is shown by this approach for Canada, has occurred in the winter. However there has been a substantial simultaneous decrease in within-year variability, the impacts of which have much more immediate effect. When combined with changes in precipitation, these effects have an enormous impact on all aspects of agriculture.
|Keywords:||Climate, Change, Canada, Agriculture, History|
Chair and Professor, Economics, and Tourism and Environment, Brock University, St.Catharines, Ontario, Canada
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