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The effect of rate of change, variability, and extreme events on the pace of adaptation to a changing climate


  • William Travis


  • Mary Huisenga


When is it time to adopt different technologies, management strategies, and resource use practices as underlying climate change occurs? We apply risk and decision analysis to test hypotheses about the timing and pace of adaption in response to different profiles of climate change and extremes expressed as yield and income variation for a simulated dryland wheat farm in the United States Great Plains. Climate scenarios include gradual change with typical or increased noise (standard deviation), rapid and large change, and gradual change with extreme events stepped through the simulation. We test decision strategies that might logically be utilized by farmers facing a climate trend that worsens crop enterprise outcomes. Adaptation quickens with the rate of change, especially for decision strategies based on performance thresholds, but is delayed by larger climate variability, especially for decision strategies based on recognizing growing differential between adaptive and non-adaptive performance. Extreme events evoke adaptation sooner than gradual change alone, and in some scenarios extremes evoke premature, inefficient, adaptation. Copyright Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2013

Suggested Citation

  • William Travis & Mary Huisenga, 2013. "The effect of rate of change, variability, and extreme events on the pace of adaptation to a changing climate," Climatic Change, Springer, vol. 121(2), pages 209-222, November.
  • Handle: RePEc:spr:climat:v:121:y:2013:i:2:p:209-222
    DOI: 10.1007/s10584-013-0876-3

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Jonghan Ko & Lajpat Ahuja & S. Saseendran & Timothy Green & Liwang Ma & David Nielsen & Charles Walthall, 2012. "Climate change impacts on dryland cropping systems in the Central Great Plains, USA," Climatic Change, Springer, vol. 111(2), pages 445-472, March.
    2. Taylor, Richard D. & Koo, Won W. & Swenson, Andrew L., 2011. "2011 North Dakota Agricultural Outlook: Representative Farms, 2011-2020," Agribusiness & Applied Economics Report 115629, North Dakota State University, Department of Agribusiness and Applied Economics.
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    Cited by:

    1. Mya Sherman & James Ford & Alejandro Llanos-Cuentas & María José Valdivia, 2016. "Food system vulnerability amidst the extreme 2010–2011 flooding in the Peruvian Amazon: a case study from the Ucayali region," Food Security: The Science, Sociology and Economics of Food Production and Access to Food, Springer;The International Society for Plant Pathology, vol. 8(3), pages 551-570, June.

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