Climatic Change

, Volume 60, Issue 1–2, pp 149–173 | Cite as

Improving the Realism of Modeling Agronomic Adaptation to Climate Change: Simulating Technological Substitution

  • William E. Easterling
  • Netra Chhetri
  • Xianzeng Niu


The purpose of the paper is to propose and test a new approach to simulating farmers' agronomic adaptation to climate change based on the pattern of adoption of technological innovation/substitution over time widely described as a S-shaped (or logistic) curve, i.e., slow growth at the beginning followed by accelerating and then decelerating growth, ultimately leading to saturation. The approach we developed is tested using the Erosion Productivity Impact Calculator crop model applied to corn production systems in the southeastern U.S. using a high-resolution climate change scenario. Corn is the most extensively grown crop in the southeastern U.S. The RegCM limited area model nested within the CSIRO general circulation model generated the scenario. We compare corn yield outcomes using this new form of adaptation (logistic) with climatically optimized (clairvoyant) adaptation. The results show logistic adaptation to be less effective than clairvoyant adaptation in ameliorating climate change impacts on yields, although the differences between the two sets of yields are statistically significant in one case only. These results are limited by the reliance on a single scenario of climate change. We conclude that the logistic technique should be tested widely across climate change scenarios, crop species, and geographic areas before a full evaluation of its effect on outcomes is possible.


Corn Climate Change Impact Climate Change Scenario Crop Model Corn Production 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. Brown, R. A. and Rosenberg, N. J.: 1999, 'Climate Change Impacts on the Potential Productivity of Corn and Winter Wheat in their Primary United States Growing Regions', Clim. Change 41, 73–107.Google Scholar
  2. CAST: 1992, Preparing U.S. Agriculture for Global Climate Change, Council for Agricultural Science and Technology, Ames, Iowa.Google Scholar
  3. Debecher, A. and Modis, T.: 1994, 'Determination of the Uncertainties in S-Curve Logistic Fits', Technological Forecasting and Social Change 46, 153–173.Google Scholar
  4. Easterling, W. E.: 1996, 'Adapting North American Agriculture to Climate Change in Review', Agric. For. Meteorol. 80, 1–53.Google Scholar
  5. Easterling, W. E., Crosson, P. R., Rosenberg, N. J., McKenney, M., Katz, L. A., and Lemon, K.: 1993, 'Agricultural Impacts of and Responses to Climate Change in theMissouri-Iowa-Nebraska-Kansas (MINK) Region', Clim. Change 24, 23–61.Google Scholar
  6. Easterling, W. E., Mearns, L. O., Hays, C. J., and Marx, D.: 2001, 'Comparison of Agricultural Impacts of Climate Change Calculated from High and Low Resolution Climate Change Scenarios: Part II. Accounting for Adaptation and CO2 Direct Effects', Clim. Change 51, 173–197Google Scholar
  7. Fisher, J. C. and Pry, R. H.: 1971, 'A Simple Substitution Model of Technological Change', Technological Forecasting and Social Change 3, 75–88.Google Scholar
  8. Frederick, K. D and Schwarz. G.: 1999, 'Socioeconomic Impacts of Climate Change on U.S. Water Supplies', Journal of the American Water Resources Association 35, 1563–1583.Google Scholar
  9. Geroski, P. A.: 2000, 'Models of Technology Diffusion', Research Policy 29, 603–625.Google Scholar
  10. Gitay, H., Brown, S., Easterling, W. and Jallow, B. (with Antle, J., Apps, M., Beamish, R., Chapin, T., Cramer, W., Frangi, J., Laine, J., Lin Erda, L., Magnuson, J., Noble, I., Price, J., Prowse, T., Sirotenko, O., Root, T., Schulze, E., Sohngen, B., and Soussana, J.): 2001, 'Ecosystems and their Goods and Services', in McCarthy et al. (eds.), Climate Change 2001-Impacts, Adaptations and Mitigation of Climate Change: Scientific-Technical Analyses, Contribution of Working Group II to the Third Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, United Nations Environment Programme-World Meteorological Organization, Cambridge University Press, pp. 235–342.Google Scholar
  11. Grübler, A.: 1998, Technology and Global Change, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, pp. 50–75.Google Scholar
  12. Harnett, D. L.: 1982, Statistical Methods, 3rd edn., Addison-Wesley Publishing Company, Inc.Google Scholar
  13. Kaiser, H. M., Riha, S. J., Wilks, D. S., Rossier, D. G., and Sampath, R.: 1993, 'A Farm Level Analysis of Economic and Agronomic Impacts of Gradual Warming', Amer. J. Agric. Econ. 75, 387-398.Google Scholar
  14. Kiniry, J. R, Jones, C. A., O'Toole, J. C., Blanchet, R., Cabeiguenne, M., and Spanel, D. A.: 1989, 'Radiation Use Efficiency in Biomass Accumulation Prior to Grain Filling in Five Grain-Crop Species', Field Crops Reasearch 20, 51–64.Google Scholar
  15. Mansfield, E.: 1968, Industrial Research and Technological Innovation, W. W. Norton, New York.Google Scholar
  16. Mearns, L. O., Giorgi, F., McDaniel, L., and Shields, C.: 2003, 'Climate Scenarios for the Southeastern U.S. Based on GCM and Regional Model Simulations', Clim. Change 60, 7–35.Google Scholar
  17. Mearns, L. O., Easterling, W., Hays, C., and Marx, D.: 2001, 'Comparison of Agricultural Impacts of Climate Change Calculated from High and Low Resolution Climate Change Scenarios: Part I. The Uncertainty Due to Spatial Scale', Clim. Change 51, 131–172.Google Scholar
  18. Parry, M. L., Carter, T. R., and Konijn, N. T. (eds.): 1988, The Impact of Climatic Variations on Agriculture, Kluwer, Dordrecht.Google Scholar
  19. Reilly, J. M.: 1995, 'Climate Changes and Global Agriculture: Recent Findings and Issues', Amer. J. Agric. Econ. 77, 727–733.Google Scholar
  20. Rosenberg, N. J.: 1982, 'The Increasing CO2 Concentration in the Atmosphere and its Implication on Agricultural Productivity: Part II. Effects through CO2-Induced Climatic Change', Clim. Change 4, 239–254.Google Scholar
  21. Rosenzweig, C. and Parry, M.: 1994, 'Potential Impact of Climate Change on World Food Supply', Nature 367, 133–138.Google Scholar
  22. Ruttan, V. W.: 1996, 'What Happened to Technology Adoption-Diffusion Research?', Sociologia Ruralis 36, 51–73.Google Scholar
  23. Schneider, S. H., Easterling, W. E., and Mearns. L. O.: 2000, 'Adaptation: Sensitivity to Natural Variability, Agent Assumptions, and Dynamic Climate Changes', Clim. Change 45 (1), 203–221.Google Scholar
  24. Smit, B., McNabb, D., and Smithers, J.: 1996, 'Agricultural Adaptation to Climate Variation', Clim. Change 33, 7–29.Google Scholar
  25. Stockle, C. O., Williams, J. R., Rosenberg, N. J., and Jones, C. A.: 1992, 'A Method for Estimating Direct and Climatic Effects of Rising Atmospheric Carbon Dioxide on Growth Yield of Crops: Part I-Modification of the EPIC Model for Climate Change Analysis', Agricultural Systems 38, 225-228.Google Scholar
  26. Williams, J. R., Jones, C. A., and Dyke, P. T.: 1984, 'A Modeling Approach to Determining the Relationship between Erosion and Soil Productivity', Trans. Am. Soc. Agric. Eng. 27, 129–144.Google Scholar
  27. Williams, J. R., Jones, C. A., Kiniry, J. R., and Spaniel, D. A.: 1989, 'The EPIC Crop Growth Model', Trans. Am. Soc. Agric. Eng. 32, 497–511.Google Scholar
  28. Yohe, G. W. and Schlesinger, M. E.: 1998, 'Sea Level Change: The Expected Economic Cost of Protection or Abandonment in the United States', Clim. Change 38, 447–472.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic Publishers 2003

Authors and Affiliations

  • William E. Easterling
    • 1
  • Netra Chhetri
    • 1
  • Xianzeng Niu
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of GeographyThe Pennsylvania State UniversityUniversity ParkU.S.A.
  2. 2.Department of Crop and Soils ScienceThe Pennsylvania State UniversityUniversity ParkU.S.A

Personalised recommendations