The 2019-20 Modeling the Future Challenge theme is Agriculture, Water, and Climate Change. Changing temperatures, droughts, floods, and other severe weather events will cause major upheavals to many industries across the country, but perhaps none more so than the agricultural industry. According to the US Department of Agriculture (USDA), the agricultural industry accounts for approximately 40% of our nation’s water use (but significantly more in some western states). Many groundwater and surface reservoirs across the US are becoming increasingly depleted due to over extraction of water and not enough precipitation to replenish them. Some farms across the western US have already had to cut the number of crops they are producing due to a lack of water availability.
Your team is tasked with analyzing historic data and making your own models to project how changes to climate and water access could affect the agricultural industry in a region of the country you select. Then you will make recommendations on how the industry and government can respond to help mitigate and manage the potential risks.
How will climate change and water access affect the agricultural industry in the coming decades? What insurance or public policy changes could help mitigate or respond to the projected risks to the industry?
A successful agricultural industry is one of the fundamental keys upon which societies thrive. Providing healthy, nutritious food for our continuously growing population is critical to our prosperity as a nation and global society. However, a successful agricultural industry is far from a given. Environmental stressors and a growing population put ever increasing pressures on our farms to produce the crops and livestock required at affordable prices. Exacerbating the problem is the fact that climate change is expected to significantly alter important environmental factors that could have large effects on agricultural sectors across the country.
As global temperatures continue to rise, our climate will continue to change in many ways, and the agriculture industry will be forced to adapt to these changing conditions. New risks to agricultural production can come in many forms, but none may be as severe as the coming threats from climate change and water availability.
Additional detail and specific data-sets for your project will be available upon the launch of the Qualifying Phase of the Challenge.