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Earth System Dynamics An interactive open-access journal of the European Geosciences Union
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Discussion papers
https://doi.org/10.5194/esd-2019-44
© Author(s) 2019. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.
https://doi.org/10.5194/esd-2019-44
© Author(s) 2019. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Submitted as: research article 15 Aug 2019

Submitted as: research article | 15 Aug 2019

Review status
This discussion paper is a preprint. It is a manuscript under review for the journal Earth System Dynamics (ESD).

Impacts of future agricultural change on ecosystem service indicators

Sam S. Rabin1, Peter Alexander2,3, Roslyn Henry2, Peter Anthoni1, Thomas A. M. Pugh4,5, Mark Rounsevell1, and Almut Arneth1 Sam S. Rabin et al.
  • 1Institute of Meteorology and Climate Research/Atmospheric Environmental Research, Karlsruhe Institute of Technology, Germany
  • 2School of Geosciences, University of Edinburgh, UK
  • 3Global Academy of Agriculture and Food Security, The Royal (Dick) School of Veterinary Studies, University of Edinburgh, UK
  • 4School of Geography, Earth and Environmental Sciences, University of Birmingham, UK
  • 5Birmingham Institute of Forest Research, University of Birmingham, UK

Abstract. A future of increasing atmospheric carbon dioxide concentrations, changing climate, growing human populations, and shifting socioeconomic conditions means that the global agricultural system will need to adapt in order to feed the world. These changes will affect not only agricultural land, but terrestrial ecosystems in general. Here, we use the coupled land use and vegetation model LandSyMM to quantify future land use change and resulting impacts on ecosystem service indicators including carbon sequestration, runoff, and nitrogen pollution. We additionally hold certain variables, such as climate or land use, constant to assess the relative contribution of different drivers to the projected impacts. While indicators of some ecosystem services (e.g., flood and drought risk) see trends that are mostly dominated by the direct effects of climate change, others (e.g., carbon sequestration) depend critically on land use and management. Scenarios in which climate change mitigation is more difficult (Shared Socioeconomic Pathways 3 and 5) have the strongest impacts on ecosystem service indicators, such as a loss of 13–19 % of land in biodiversity hotspots and a 28 % increase in nitrogen pollution. Evaluating a suite of ecosystem service indicators across scenarios enables the identification of tradeoffs and co-benefits associated with different climate change mitigation and adaptation strategies and socioeconomic developments.

Sam S. Rabin et al.
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Model code and software

Harmonizing LandSyMM with historical data S. S. Rabin https://doi.org/10.5281/zenodo.3336129

Sam S. Rabin et al.
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Short summary
We modeled how agricultural performance and demand will shift as a result of climate change and population growth, and how the resulting adaptations will affect aspects of the Earth system upon which humanity depends. We found that the impacts of land use and management can have stronger impacts than climate change on some such ecosystem services. The overall impacts are strongest in future scenarios with more severe climate change, high population growth, and/or resource-intensive lifestyles.
We modeled how agricultural performance and demand will shift as a result of climate change and...
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