The economic value of climate stability from forests: The case of the Brazilian agricultural frontier

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Principal Investigator: 
Sally Thompson, University of California, Berkeley
Tim Griffin, Tufts University
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The conversion of vast swaths of Northern Brazil’s forests to agriculture has promoted economic growth, but massively altered the region’s climate and water cycling, disrupting the very climate on which the agriculture and other resource economies rely. If land conversion patterns continue, an extreme, but feasible consequence is widespread regional aridification and loss of the Amazon forest biome. Decisions that drive this development could be altered by consideration of economic losses from FEWS economy-hydroclimate feedbacks –feedbacks we seek to capture within an integrated climate-FEWS economy modeling framework under development by our pursuit team. Pursuit activities will involve synthesis of satellite and in situ social and environmental data, metric selection via simulation, and statistical modeling. The result will be a set of statistical distributions linking changes in land use to changes in climate metrics, and thus to changes in agriculture, hydroelectricity, and bioenergy production. This will enable integrated climate-resource economy modeling at the very spatial scales where local and states governments and agribusinesses make decisions. We believe such a framework can help to raise awareness and help to spark governance and or collective action for a more resilient regional development path. The approach will also have applications for other major rain fed agricultural regions where further land conversion is planned and the bulk of rainfall is convective.

Jaya Khanna, Rutgers University
Jake Campolo, Northeastern University
Avery Cohn, Tufts University
David Dralle, UC Berkeley
Graham Jefferies, Tufts University
Mike Coe, Woods Hole
Jonathan Lamontagne, Tufts University
Gabrielle Pires, Federal University of Vicosa
Angela Rigden, Harvard University
Claudia Tebaldi, National Center for Atmospheric Research
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