Thursday, November 5, 2009: 8:15 AM
Convention Center, Room 410, Fourth Floor
Climate changes in response to natural phenomena across a range of time-scales. Evidence suggests that climate is now also changing as a result of human activities, such as emission of greenhouse gases and land use changes. Climate variability and climate change create risks to all sectors of society and effective preparation for potential effects includes the engagement of agricultural and natural resource managers, public works officials, local managers, businesses, residents and property owners. The challenge is to provide these diverse stakeholders with trusted, useful, science based information so that they in turn can make informed decisions. Agricultural producers want to reduce their carbon footprints and to sequester more carbon in soils and wood products. They are also concerned about adaptation strategies, potential increase in the frequency of extreme events such as drought and hurricanes, and increased pressure of pests and diseases. Identifying vulnerabilities, and local adaptation and mitigation strategies are necessary first steps in helping producers prepare for climate variability and change. However, identifying needs, strategies, and information is not sufficient. The mission of Extension is to ensure implementation of these strategies. Extension is ideally suited to determining local information needs, identifying strategies and barriers to adoption of the strategies. This paper discusses the experience of the Southeast Climate Consortium with a focus on the agricultural industry. Over the past 5 years, the SECC has been developing applications of climate information to help agricultural producers manage risks associated with seasonal climate variability. More recently we started evaluating the needs of stakeholders to mitigate and adapt to longer-term climate change. One of the successful applications is AgroClimate.org, a web-based decision support systems designed to help producers analyze and respond to climate risks affecting a variety of commodities, including crops, fruits, forestry and livestock production in the Southeast U.S.