Speaker: Sonali McDermid, Ph.D. Assistant Professor, Dept. of Environmental Studies at New York University
Title: Representing Agriculture in Earth System Models: Climate Impacts, Uncertainties, and Priorities for Development
Abstract: Representing agriculture in Earth System Models: climate impacts, uncertainties, and priorities for development. Roughly 40% of Earth’s land surface is devoted to agriculture, which is increasingly intensively managed owing to 20th century technological advances and market demands. Agriculture and food systems contribute nearly a quarter of global greenhouse gas emissions and require copious resources, such as water, fertilizer, and land. While the climate impacts of land cover conversions have been well studied, uncertainties remain in quantifying important agricultural management•climate effects related to surface moisture and energy balances, interactions with large- scale circulation, and biogeochemical cycling. Despite these uncertainties, and externalities, agriculture is increasingly being leveraged to function as a net sink of anthropogenic carbon, and there is much emphasis on future “sustainable intensification”. There is thus is a need for improved approaches to represent agriculture in global climate and earth system models (ESMs). I will begin my talk by reviewing recent advances to incorporate agricultural land use and management in ESMs. I will then describe my specific efforts to improve agricultural representations in the NASA GISS ModelE ESM, inclusive of time-varying irrigation, crop calendars and phenology, and most recently the impacts of agriculturally-driven soil degradation, and their resulting impacts on regional land-atmosphere interactions and climate dynamics. To end, I will highlight key uncertainties and limitations to these approaches, and suggest future trajectories for community-wide modeling efforts. These include developing an improved understanding of how agriculture modifies key biogeophysical and biogeochemical climate processes, and its potential role in climate change mitigation.
Bio: Dr. Sonali McDermid is a climate scientist and Assistant Professor of Environmental Studies at NYU. Her research focuses on understanding both the impacts of climate change on food security, and the interactions between agricultural landuse and regional climate systems. To advance this work, she uses a variety of methods, including global earth system models, crop models, and observational datasets. She also serves as the Climate Co-Lead for the Agricultural Model lntercomparison and Improvement Project (www.agmip.org). which is undertaking assessments of climate change, food security, and adaptation/mitigation options across South Asia and Sub-Saharan Africa. McDermid holds a Ph.D. (2012) from the Dept. of Earth and Environmental Sciences at Columbia University in Atmospheric Science and Climatology. Prior to her appointment NYU, she was NASA Post- Doctoral Fellow at the NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies (GISS) in NYC.