Research and Extension Programming Regarding Climate Change Impacts on Northeast Agriculture
CALS Impact Statement
Through a peer-reviewed research journal and news media, recent research indicating earlier spring bloom of lilacs, apples and grapes in the Northeast (corresponding to well-documented warming in the region) reached a large audience. In addition, a symposium focused on climate change and Northeast agriculture for Extension educators began preparing them for discussing climate change issues with farmers in the region.
Recent analyses focused on the Northeastern U.S. have documented a +1.8 F warming in the past 100 years (compared with the global average of +1.1 F). Winters (December - February) are warming more than the annual average temperatures (+2.8 F over the past 100 years and +4.4 F during the past 30 years). An assessment of impacts on plants, insects, and pathogens in the region is needed, as well as an education outreach program to the general public. Climate change presents potential agricultural opportunities (e.g., extended growing season) as well as risks (e.g., increased weed or pest pressure) that will affect food security, rural economies and the environment. There is a critical need to provide agricultural educators with the knowledge and tools they need to assist farmers and local policy-makers in making informed choices within the context of a changing climate.
We evaluated changes in spring bloom date from 1965 to 2001 utilizing a unique data set derived from genetically identical lilac plants (Syringa chinensis, clone "Red Rothomagensis') monitored at 72 locations within the Northeastern U.S.. In addition, we examined bloom date records for apples and grapes collected at several sites in New York during the same time period. Collectively, the results indicate an advance in spring bloom of about 4 to 8 days during the latter half of the 20th century for these woody perennials. The results have been accepted for publication in the peer-reviewed International Journal of Biometeorology, and also conveyed to the general public through various news media. Also in 2004, we organized a half-day symposium on climate change that included topics on the evidence of climate change in the region, weed and crop responses, farmer adaptation strategies, and new opportunities for farmers in the energy marketplace. A Proceedings was made available, and the presentations were put on a Cornell Cooperative Extension website.
The research showing evidence of earlier spring phenology in the Northeastern U.S. received national media attention, reaching millions of citizens through dozens of newspapers who published an Associate Press report, and also coverage on radio (National Public Radio), television (CNN, NBC Nightly News), and websites (e.g., the CNN website). The climate change symposium for extension educators was a success, with over 80 attending, and some already integrating some of the information published in the Proceedings into grower newsletters and other outlets.
funding source description
Other USDA (e.g., Water Quality, Special Grants, NRI)
Federal Formula Funds - Extension (e.g., Smith Lever, RREA)