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Integrating NASA models and missions into Central American agricultural decision support

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Wednesday, 26 January 2011
Integrating NASA models and missions into Central American agricultural decision support
Washington State Convention Center
Jonathan M. Winter, NASA/GISS, New York, NY; and A. C. Ruane, R. M. Horton, and C. Rosenzweig

Agriculture is a vital component of the Central American economy. Poor crop yields and harvest reliability can produce food insecurity, malnutrition, and conflict. Remotely-sensed data, general circulation models, and agricultural models have the potential to greatly enhance the ability of organizations, such as the Comité Regional de Recursos Hidráulicos del Istmo Centroamericano (CRRH) and the Sistema Regional de Visualización y Monitoreo (SERVIR), to promote efficiency and protect against risk. CRRH and SERVIR support a variety of stakeholders from Belize to Panama, including farmers and policymakers. This presentation will describe collaborative research activities at NASA, CRRH, and SERVIR that provide climate services for agriculture in this developing region.

A suite of climate scenarios is produced and used to force the Decision Support System for Agrotechnology Transfer (DSSAT) over Central America. DSSAT is a biophysical agricultural model that merges crop, soil, and weather databases with management and application programs to allow the simulation of multi-year outcomes of crop management strategies. Because Central America is a topographically complex region, climate scenarios are constructed using general circulation model output dynamically downscaled by the Weather Research and Forecasting (WRF) model and Regional Climate Model version 4 (RegCM4). Control simulations are comprehensively assessed against a variety of observational datasets, including high-resolution satellite-based precipitation products. Climate variability is evaluated at temporal scales ranging from daily to interannual. Long-term simulations are conducted to examine mean climate shifts and the impact of those shifts on agricultural productivity in the region. Special attention is paid to extreme events and quantifying the role that the El Niño-Southern Oscillation plays in modulating the weather of Central America.

Projected impacts of climate variability and change on Central American agriculture will be analyzed in collaboration with CRRH and SERVIR to develop decision support tools. Climate scenarios, agricultural simulations, and related products will also be distributed to local agencies to build capacity and enable extended analyses and application to other sectors.