Impacts of Climate Change on Future Land-use and Water Policy: Using the Model Organism Arabidopsis thaliana to Build a GIS Vulnerability Analysis of US Agricultural Lands
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As climate change continues to influence precipitation and temperature patterns modeling how crop systems may respond to these changes becomes increasingly necessary to ensure future food security and direct policy decisions. In a multi-part project, I aimed to evaluate geographic variation in performance across water availability, assess Brassica crop risk to precipitation variation and examine a case study of water law. First, common garden experiments were used to examine how the model organism <i>Arabidopsis thaliana<i> morphologically responds to water availability. The common garden experiments included evaluation of performance in extreme water conditions, i.e. droughts and floods, as well as precipitation dispersal patterns. Next, these results were then employed in a GIS based modeling rink assessment for Brassica crop responses to water availability. Two vulnerability models were built combining data from findings in the empirical common garden experiments, and publicly available NOAA climate data, FEMA disaster declarations data and USDA crop data. The first model evaluated the increasing severity of climate change across the continental United States over the past three decades. The second model identified state and regional level Brassica crop vulnerability. The combined results of the models were mapped using Geographic Information Systems (GIS) to identify regions where climate change policy should be focused, such as California. Finally in a case study of California, an examination of precedent setting land-use and water law court cases, past climate change policy and how policymakers demonstrated their ability to manage climate change impacts in California. This case study indicates that something informative here a framework for other state’s climate change policy makers by highlighting what has and hasn’t worked. Vulnerability studies are an ongoing process with this study presenting a holistic approach on how to predict the vulnerability of the Brassica crop system to climate change.