Climate and Agroecology

In this course we will examine the linkages between agroecosystems and the climate system. We begin by looking at projections for climate change impacts on crop production, with a focus on crop simulation models, their applications and limitations. We then look at expectations for the influence of elevated carbon dioxide on yield, and controversies involved. We then turn to a discussion of the role that agriculture can play in climate change mitigation, given the large greenhouse gas emissions associated with farming systems. This takes us to an in-depth discussion of soil carbon management, and trade-offs between emissions from various reductions strategies.  Finally, we will investigate the various strategies being put forth regarding climate change adaption, including the role of genetically modified crops, biodiversity, and system resilience, with major implications for future food production.

Learning Outcomes:
  • Strong grasp of the quantitative tools used in the study of ecosystem ecology, as applied to natural systems and to agroecosystems
  • Appreciation for uncertainties, assumptions, and limitations of our knowledge of carbon and nutrient cycles and interactions with climate
  • Understanding of the use of process models in predicting system responses to climate change
  • Ability to read and understand the primary peer-reviewed literature in the fields of agroecosystem ecology and climate science and to analyze the policy implications of the science