C L I M AT E C H A N G E , C L I M AT E V A R I A B I L I T Y, A G R I C U LT U R E , A N D W AT E R R E S O U R C E S Climate change may have a dual effect on irrigated agriculture.

This may occur through both higher water demand by agriculture and an expansion of the area irrigated to achieve historical yields. These developments are due to both general climate change (higher temperatures and lower precipitation) and climate variability leading to an increase in extreme events, especially the frequency of droughts. Climate variability is a concern in terms of changes in the seasonality of precipitation, which is of particular importance for agriculture as it affects the timing of annual rainfall patterns or periods of snow pack melt, necessitating the restructuring of irrigation storage systems. Better understanding of climate variability and extension of risk management approaches in agriculture to expected climate variability can help build a more reliable foundation for adapting to future climate change and mitigating potential impacts on agricultural productivity and the growing of suitable crops. Rising energy prices are inevitable in the short and medium terms. Energy price increases will affect rain-fed agriculture by raising the cost of transporting agricultural goods to market and by increasing the cost of agricultural inputs, like fertilizers and pesticides. Because water conveyance and irrigation systems require large amounts of energy, irrigated agriculture faces the additional burden of rapidly increasing pumping costs as energy costs increase. California’s water infrastructure uses approximately 52,000 Gigawatthours (GWh) of energy or 20% of the state’s total electricity consumption to treat water supply; treat wastewater; and to power the pumps that move water from one place to another. Electricity used by the water purveyors in the state amounts to 20,278 GWh, approximately 8% of the statewide total electrical use. California end-users of water consume about 32,000 GWh of this total energy use to heat, cool, and pump the water they use in their homes, businesses, and for agricultural irrigation purposes. A summary of IPPC (2208) statements regarding water resources include:
• Observed warming over several decades has been linked to changes in the large-

scale hydrological cycle.
• Increased precipitation intensity and variability are projected to increase the risks

of flooding and drought in many areas (likely/very likely).
• Higher water temperatures and changes in extremes, including floods and

droughts, are projected to affect water quality and exacerbate many forms of water pollution (high confidence).

Lyle Brecht DRAFT 1.1 -- Monday, July 5, 2010

Page 1 of 2

C L I M AT E C H A N G E , C L I M AT E V A R I A B I L I T Y, A G R I C U LT U R E , A N D W AT E R R E S O U R C E S
• Globally, the negative impacts of future climate change on freshwater systems are

expected to outweigh the benefits (high confidence).
• Changes in water quantity and quality due to climate change are expected to af-

fect food availability, stability, access and utilization.
• Climate change affects the function and operation of existing water infrastructure

– including hydropower, structural flood defenses, drainage and irrigation systems – as well as water management practices (high/very high confidence).
• Current water management practices may not be robust enough to cope with the

impacts of climate change on water supply reliability, flood risk, health, agriculture, energy and aquatic ecosystems (very high confidence).
• Climate change challenges the traditional assumption that past hydrological expe-

rience provides a good guide to future conditions (very likely).
• Adaptation options designed to ensure water supply during average and drought

conditions require integrated demand-side as well as supply-side strategies.
• Mitigation measures can reduce the magnitude of impacts of global warming on

water resources, in turn reducing adaptation needs.
• Water resources management clearly impacts on many other policy areas, e.g.,

energy, health, food security and nature conservation. The hydrologic cycle recycles annually the same, finite, net, 4/1000ths of 1 percent of Earth’s total water. The water the dinosaurs drank millions of years ago is essentially the same water that falls as rain today. This water has sustained every civilization from the beginnings of history to today. But, today the global well is starting to go dry.
Adapted from: Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development [OECD] (2010), Sustainable Management of Water Resources in Agriculture; Lon W. House, “Water Supply Related Electricity Demand in California,” (December 2006), California Energy Commission Public Interest Energy Research (PIER) Program; International Panel on Climate Change [IPCC] (2008), Climate change and water, IPCC Technical Paper VI, Geneva, Switzerland.

Lyle Brecht DRAFT 1.1 -- Monday, July 5, 2010

Page 2 of 2

Master your semester with Scribd & The New York Times

Special offer for students: Only $4.99/month.

Master your semester with Scribd & The New York Times

Cancel anytime.