Climatic Change

, Volume 55, Issue 3, pp 339–359 | Cite as

Climate Change, Agriculture, and Water Quality in the Chesapeake Bay Region

  • David Abler
  • James Shortle
  • Jeffrey Carmichael
  • Richard Horan


Research on climate change and agriculture has largely focused on production, food prices, and producer incomes. However, societal interest in agriculture is much broader than these issues. The objective of this paper is to analyze the potential impacts of climate change on an important negative externality from agriculture, water quality. We construct a simulation model of maize production in twelve watersheds within the U.S. Chesapeake Bay Region that has economic and watershed components linking climate to productivity, production decisions by maize farmers, and nitrogen loadings delivered to the Chesapeake Bay. Maize is an important crop to study because of its importance to the region's agriculture and because it is a major source of nutrient pollution. The model is run under alternative scenarios regarding the future climate, future baseline (without any climate change), whether farmers respond to climate change, whether there are carbon dioxide (CO2) enrichment effects on maize production, and whether agricultural prices facing the region change due to climate change impacts on global agricultural commodity markets. The simulation results differ from one scenario to another on the magnitude and direction of change in nitrogen deliveries to the Chesapeake Bay. The results are highly sensitive to the choice of future baseline scenario and to whether there are CO2 enrichment effects. The results are also highly sensitive to assumptions about the impact of climate change on commodity prices facing farmers in the Chesapeake Bay region. The results indicate that economic responses by farmers to climate change definitely matter. Assuming that farmers do not respond to changes in temperature, precipitation, and atmosphericCO2 levels could lead to mistaken conclusions about the magnitude and direction of environmental impacts.


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. Abler, D. G.: 2001, 'Elasticities of Substitution and Factor Supply in Canadian, Mexican, and United States Agriculture', in OECD (ed.), Market Effects of Crop Support Measures, Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, Paris, pp. 57-88.Google Scholar
  2. Abler, D. G., Rodríguez, A. G., and Shortle, J. S.: 1999, 'Parameter Uncertainty in CGE Modeling of the Environmental Impacts of Economic Policies', Environ. Resour. Econ. 14, 75-94.Google Scholar
  3. Abler, D. G. and Shortle, J. S.: 1995, 'Technology as an Agricultural Pollution Control Policy', Amer. J. Agric. Econ. 77, 20-32.Google Scholar
  4. Abler, D. G. and Shortle, J. S.: 1996, 'Environmental Aspects of Agricultural Technology', in Alston, J. and Pardey, D. (eds.), Global Agricultural Science Policy for the Twenty-First Century, Conference Secretariat on Global Agricultural Science Policy for the Twenty-First Century, Melbourne, pp. 203-225.Google Scholar
  5. Abler, D. G. and Shortle, J. S.: 1997, 'Modeling Environmental and Trade Policy Linkages: The Case of EU and U.S. Agriculture', in Martin, W. and McDonald, L. (eds.), Environmental Policy Modeling, Kluwer, New York, pp. 43-75.Google Scholar
  6. Abler, D. G. and Shortle, J. S.: 2000, 'Climate Change and Agriculture in the Mid-Atlantic Region', Clim. Res. 14, 185-194.Google Scholar
  7. Carmichael, J. and Evans, B.: 2000, A Reduced Form Model of Non-Point Pollution Loading for Regional Scale Analysis, Working Paper, Penn State University, University Park, Pennsylvania, U.S.A.Google Scholar
  8. Chang, H., Evans, B. M., and Easterling, D. R.: 1999, The Effects of Climate Variability and Change on Nutrient Loading in Selected Watersheds of the Susquehanna River Basin, Working Paper, Penn State University, University Park, Pennsylvania, U.S.A.Google Scholar
  9. Chesapeake Bay Program: 1999, The State of the Chesapeake Bay, EPA 903-R99-013 and CBP/TRS 222/108, Scholar
  10. Chesapeake Bay Program: 2001, CBP Watershed Model Scenario Output Database, Phase 4.3, Scholar
  11. Chiew, F. H. S., Whetton, P. H., McMahon, T. A., and Pittock, A. B.: 1995, 'Simulation of the Impacts of Climate Change on Runoff and Soil Moisture in Australian Catchments', J. Hydrol. 167, 121-147.Google Scholar
  12. Follett, R. F.: 1995, 'NLEAP Model Simulation of Climate and Management Effects on N Leaching for Corn Grown on Sandy Soil', J. Contam. Hydrol. 20, 241-252.Google Scholar
  13. Haith, D. A., Mandel, R., and Wu, R. S.: 1992, GWLF-Generalized Water Loading Function: Version 2.0 User's Manual, Department of Agricultural and Biological Engineering, Cornell University, Ithaca, New York, U.S.A.Google Scholar
  14. Izaurralde, R. C., Brown, R. A., and Rosenberg, N. J.: 1999, U.S. Regional Agricultural Production in 2030 and 2095: Response to CO 2 Fertilization and Hadley Climate Model (HadCM2) Projections of Greenhouse-Forced Climatic Change, Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, Richland, Washington, U.S.A., Scholar
  15. Kislev, Y. and Peterson, W.: 1982: 'Prices, Technology, and Farm Size', J. Polit. Econ. 90, 578-595.Google Scholar
  16. McCarl, B. A.: 1999, 'Results from the National and NCAR Agricultural Climate Change Effects Assessments', Scholar
  17. Nizeyimana, E., Evans, B. M., Anderson, M. C., Peterson, G. W., DeWalle, D. R., Sharpe, W. E., Hamlett, J. M., and Swistock, B. R.: 1997, Quantification of NPS Pollution Loads within Pennsylvania Watersheds, Environmental Resources Research Institute Report ER9708, Penn State University, University Park, Pennsylvania, U.S.A.Google Scholar
  18. Phillips, D. L., White, D., and Johnson, B.: 1993: 'Implications of Climate Change Scenarios for Soil Erosion Potential in the U.S.A.', Land Degrad. Rehabilit. 4, 61-72.Google Scholar
  19. Polsky, C., Allard, J., Currit, N., Crane, R., and Yarnal, B.: 2000: 'The Mid-Atlantic Region and Its Climate: Past, Present, and Future', Clim. Res. 14, 161-173.Google Scholar
  20. Rosenzweig, C. and Hillel, D.: 1998: Climate Change and the Global Harvest: Potential Impacts of the Greenhouse Effect on Agriculture, Oxford University Press, New York.Google Scholar
  21. Schimmelpfennig, D., Lewandrowski, J., Reilly, J., Tsigas, M., and Parry, I.: 1996, Agricultural Adaptation to Climate Change: Issues of Longrun Sustainability, U.S. Department of Agriculture, Economic Research Service, Agricultural Economic Report No. 740, Scholar
  22. Shortle, J. S. and Abler, D. G.: 1997, 'Nonpoint Pollution', in Folmer, H. and Tietenberg, T. (eds.), The International Yearbook of Environmental and Resource Economics 1997/1998, Edward Elgar, London, pp. 114-155.Google Scholar
  23. Shortle, J., Abler, D., and Fisher, A.: 1999: 'Developing Socioeconomic Scenarios: Mid-Atlantic Case', Acclimations 7, 7-8, Scholar
  24. Teigen, L. D. and Thomas, M., Jr.: 1995, Weather and Yield, 1950-94: Relationships, Distributions, and Data, U.S. Department of Agriculture, Economic Research Service, Staff Paper No. 9572, Washington, D.C.Google Scholar
  25. U.S. Department of Agriculture: 1999, 1997 Census of Agriculture, census/.Google Scholar
  26. U.S. Department of Agriculture: 2000, Costs and Returns Reading Room, Scholar
  27. U.S. Geological Survey: 2000, SPARROW-Surface Water Quality Modeling, Scholar
  28. U.S. National Assessment Synthesis Team: 2000, Climate Change Impacts on the United States: The Potential Consequences of Climate Variability and Change, Cambridge University Press, New York, Scholar

Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic Publishers 2002

Authors and Affiliations

  • David Abler
    • 1
  • James Shortle
    • 1
  • Jeffrey Carmichael
    • 2
  • Richard Horan
    • 3
  1. 1.Penn State UniversityUniversity ParkU.S.A.
  2. 2.Sustainable Development Research InstituteVancouverCanada
  3. 3.Michigan State UniversityEast LansingU.S.A

Personalised recommendations