Using climate scenarios to evaluate future impacts on the groundwater resources and agricultural economy of the Texas High Plains

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Courtesy of IWA Publishing

This study evaluated the impacts of future climate scenarios on the groundwater resources and agricultural economy of the Texas High Plains, using Hale county as a case study. Climate change impacts were incorporated into regional economic models using weather projections to develop crop response functions from crop models. These projections are based on quantitative projections of precipitation, potential evapotranspiration, and temperature trends driven by simulations from the latest IPCC AR4 climate models (Community Climate System Model (CCSM), Geophysical Fluid Dynamics Laboratory (GFDL), UK Met Office Hadley Model (HadCM3), and Parallel Climate Model (PCM)) under two specific emissions scenarios, A1B (mid-range) and A1FI (higher). Results indicated that for both the emission scenarios, saturated thickness, water use per cropland acre, and irrigated acreage declined under climatic predictions by all four models. At the end of the 90 year horizon, the A1B scenario resulted in a decline in average net income per acre as predicted by the CCSM and HadCM3 models, while the GFDL and PCM models predicted an increase in average net income per acre. Under the A1FI scenario, the CCSM, GFDL, and PCM model projections led to increased average net income per acre, while climate projections under the HadCM3 model indicated a decline in average net income per acre at the end of the 90 year horizon.

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