Challenging a trickle-down view of climate change on agriculture and groundwater
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Global climate change is largely viewed as affecting ecohydrology of the Earth’s surface, but various studies are showing deeper effects on groundwater. Agricultural systems may be studied at the land surface and into the root zone with deeper effects of water and chemical movement to groundwater. Traditionally, this has been literally a top-down approach, where climate and weather patterns drive plant and soil-water responses that trickle down to groundwater. In this view, feedbacks of groundwater to the surface are mainly given by pumping and irrigation, which are managed to meet the evaporative (evaporation plus transpiration) demands of cropping systems. Full coupling of climate with agriculture and groundwater remains a challenge due to complex biophysical, engineering infrastructure and policy interactions and constraints. For example, crop water management under limited water scenarios should include the possibly compensating effects of rising temperature and atmospheric CO2 on plant transpiration, along with regional water policies that may consider historical groundwater recharge to be a “return flow” requirement. Such factors impact the potential for water marketing and related agricultural decision making. This talk will provide an overview and examples of the issues faced by different stakeholders and researchers investigating the interconnections of climate change, food security and environmental sustainability of agricultural lands. International collaboration and frameworks for cooperation will also be highlighted.