Regional Climate Impact of Biofuel Policies in Central U.S.

by Chieh-Hsin Chen

To solve the problem of energy security, there are many policies to increase the production of biofuel feedstock. In the central United States, there have been studies and simulations of conversion of land use for agriculture; the models are used to assess the environmental and economic impacts from the conversions. Anderson et al. (2013) looked into two simulations performed using the same atmospheric forcing data for the period 1979−2004: one as control group with present day land use and phenology, and other with land use change from food crops to switchgrass. Kansas and Oklahoma are set for the simulation sites; the agro-economic model predicts about 15−30% conversion to switchgrass. The result shows a slight climate change on the temperature, humidity, and the soil moisture; the regional climate model simulates lower temperature and higher humidity in spring while lower humidity and a depletion of soil moisture in summer. The authors also conclude that using agro-economic and climate models interactively would reduce the possibility of unforeseen consequences from rapid changes in the agriculture production system. Continue reading