87th AMS Annual Meeting

Thursday, 18 January 2007: 8:30 AM
Using Weather Variability to Assess Socioeconomic Impacts of Climate:
214C (Henry B. Gonzalez Convention Center)
Roberta Balstad, Columbia University, Bethesda, MD
This paper examines how weather variability can be used to identify and understand the dynamics of socioeconomic changes due to climate variability on the North American Great Plains. It is predicated on a number of assumptions: (a) that if climate impacts are to be understood, they must be studied over long time periods; (b) that agricultural activities are particularly susceptible to climate changes and thus can serve as a stimulus for broader climate impacts on societies; and (c) that climate impacts are mediated by available technologies, markets, and public policies. The initial settlement of the Great Plains by European-origin farmers in the last half of the nineteenth century provides an opportunity to test these assumptions in an area that experienced extremes of weather variability. The larger project, of which this paper is a part, involves an intensive examination of the influence of weather variability on specific settlements on the Great Plains between the mid-nineteenth and the mid-twentieth centuries. The focus of the paper is to examine the impacts of shifts in weather patterns on the economic viability of the region and on patterns of population migration into and out of the region. It will also examine the validity of using weather variability as a stand-in for climate change. The study is being done under the auspices of the NSF-funded Center for Research on Environmental Decisions (CRED) at Columbia University. The purpose of the Center is to study decision making under climate uncertainty through laboratory, field, and theoretical research.

Supplementary URL: