Climate change impacts on agricultural and natural ecosystems

Program or topic

Climate change impacts on agricultural and natural ecosystems

Department(s) or unit(s)

  • Department of Horticulture
  • Department of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences

Contact information

David Wolfe
Professor, Horticulture

Program goals

To examine plant responses to increasing atmospheric carbon dioxide and climate change, and the impact this may have on natural and managed ecosystems, and regional and global food supplies.

Brief description

For the last 20 years, David Wolfe and other Cornell researchers have been gathering evidence of climate change, its impact on plants and ecosystems, and developing adaptation strategies. The Cornell group has been directly involved in both regional and national assessment efforts, and Wolfe’s research documenting earlier spring flowering in the northeast was cited in the most recent (2007) United Nations intergovernmental panel on climate change (IPCC) report. Other aspects of Wolfe’s research include: the effects of reduced snow cover in the northeast on winter soil temperatures affecting nitrogen cycling and retention; effects of rising carbon dioxide and heat stress on growth of weeds and crops; projected shifts in insect pest ranges in response to climate change; and soil management to increase carbon sequestration and reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Collectively, this interdisciplinary work provides information for land managers and policy-makers on how climate change affects agricultural and natural ecosystems, and identifies management practices to adapt to a changing climate and help mitigate greenhouse gas emissions.

For more information


Key publications:

  • Creating a Role for Agriculture and Forestry in Emerging Carbon Markets, white paper (PDF)
  • The Role of Agriculture and Forestry in Emerging Carbon Markets, presentation (PDF)
  • Wolfe, DW, L Ziska, C Petzoldt, A Seaman, L Chase, K Hayhoe. 2008. Projected change in climate thresholds in the Northeastern U.S.: Implications for crops, pests, livestock, and farmers. Mitigation and Adaptation Strategies for Global Change. 13: 555-575.
  • Hayhoe, K, C Wake, T Huntington, L Luo, M Schwartz, J Sheffield, E Wood, B Anderson, J Bradbury, A Degaetano, T Troy, D Wolfe. 2007. Past and future changes in climate and hydrological indicators in the U.S. Northeast. Climate Dynamics 28(4): 381-407.
  • Hatfield, JL, KJ Boote, BA Kimball, DW Wolfe, DR Ort, RC Izaurralde, AM Thomson, JA Morgan, HW Polley, PA Fay, TL Mader, GL Hahn. 2008. Agriculture. IN: The Effects of Climate Change on Agriculture, Land Resources, Water Resources, and Biodiversity. A Report by the U.S. Climate Change Science Program. Washington D.C. Chapter 2.
  • Bento A., D Wolfe. 2009. Creating a role for agriculture and forestry in emerging carbon markets. Cornell Policy Brief (presented to House and Senate in November, 2009). 6. pp..

Category: Agricultural, Agriculture/Farming, Earth & Atmospheric Sciences, Ecosystems, Horticulture, Phenology, Terrestrial

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