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Marshall Burke
Journal Articles

Historical warming has increased U.S. crop insurance losses

Marshall Burke
Environmental Research Letters , 2021
Quantification of the sector-specific financial impacts of historical global warming represents a critical gap in climate change impacts assessment. The multiple decades of county-level data available from the U.S. crop insurance program – which collectively represent aggregate damages to the agricultural sector largely borne by U.S. taxpayers – present a unique opportunity to close this gap. Using econometric analysis in combination with observed and simulated changes in county-level temperature, we show that global warming has already contributed substantially to rising crop insurance losses in the U.S. For example, we estimate that county-level temperature trends have contributed $US2017 23.9 billion – or 17% – of the national-level crop insurance losses over the 1991-2017 period. Further, we estimate that observed warming contributed approximately one third of total losses in the most costly single year (2012). In addition, analyses of a large suite of global climate model simulations yield very high confidence that anthropogenic climate forcing has increased U.S. crop insurance losses. These sector-specific estimates provide important quantitative information about the financial costs of the global warming that has already occurred (including the costs of individual extreme events), as well as the economic value of mitigation and/or adaptation options.
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Journal Articles

Using satellite imagery to understand and promote sustainable development

Marshall Burke, David Lobell
Science , 2021
Recent years have witnessed rapid growth in satellite-based approaches to quantifying aspects of land use, especially those monitoring the outcomes of sustainable development programs. Burke et al. reviewed this recent progress with a particular focus on machine-learning approaches and artificial intelligence methods. Drawing on examples mostly from Africa, they conclude that satellite-based methods enhance rather than replace ground-based data collection, and progress depends on a combined approach.
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Journal Articles

Contribution of historical precipitation change to US flood damages

Marshall Burke, Noah Diffenbaugh
PNAS , 2021

Precipitation extremes have increased in many regions of the United States, suggesting that climate change may be exacerbating the cost of flooding. However, the impact of historical precipitation change on the cost of US flood damages remains poorly quantified. Applying empirical analysis to historical precipitation and flood damages, we estimate that approximately one-third (36%) of the cost of flood damages over 1988 to 2017 is a result of historical precipitation changes.

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Journal Articles

The changing risk and burden of wildfire in the United States

Marshall Burke, Anne Driscoll, Sam Heft-Neal, Jiani Xue
PNAS , 2021

Recent dramatic and deadly increases in global wildfire activity have increased attention on the causes of wildfires, their consequences, and how risk from wildfire might be mitigated. Here we bring together data on the changing risk and societal burden of wildfire in the United States. We estimate that nearly 50 million homes are currently in the wildland–urban interface in the United States, a number increasing by 1 million houses every 3 y.

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Working Papers

The Changing Risk and Burden of Wildfire in the US

Marshall Burke, Anne Driscoll, Jennifer Burney, Sam Heft-Neal, Jenny Xue, Michael Wara
The National Bureau of Economic Research , 2020

Recent dramatic and deadly increases in global wildfire activity have increased attention on the causes of wildfires, their consequences, and how risk from fire might be mitigated. Here we bring together data on the changing risk and societal burden of wildfire in the US. We estimate that nearly 50 million homes are currently in the wildland-urban interface in the US, a number increasing by 1 million houses every 3 years.

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Journal Articles

Dust pollution from the Sahara and African infant mortality

Marshall Burke, Sam Heft-Neal
Nature Sustainability , 2020

Estimation of pollution impacts on health is critical for guiding policy to improve health outcomes. Estimation is challenging, however, because economic activity can worsen pollution but also independently improve health outcomes, confounding pollution–health estimates. We leverage variation in exposure to local particulate matter of diameter <2.5 μm (PM2.5) across Sub-Saharan Africa driven by distant dust export from the Sahara, a source uncorrelated with local economic activity.

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Working Papers

Productivity Dispersion and Persistence Among the World's Most Numerous Firms

Marshall Burke, Casey C. Maue, Kyle J. Emerick
National Bureau of Economic Research , 2020

Marshall Burke and fellow researchers study productivity in smallholder farms to understand variation across the adbundant but understudied firms. They use a novel framework, satellite data, and machine learning to understand such variation, and they find that output measurement error contributes significantly to this discrepancy in productivity.

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Working Papers

Does Information About Climate Risk Affect Property Values?

Marshall Burke
The National Bureau of Economic Research , 2020

Floods and other climate hazards pose a widespread and growing threat to housing and infrastructure around the world. By incorporating climate risk into asset prices, markets can discourage excessive development in hazardous areas. However, the extent to which markets actually price these risks remains poorly understood. Here we measure the effect of information about flood risk on residential property values in the United States.

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Journal Articles

Sight for Sorghums: Comparisons of Satellite- and Ground-Based Sorghum Yield Estimates in Mali

David Lobell, Stefania Di Tomasso, Marshall Burke
Remote Sensing MDPI , 2019

The advent of multiple satellite systems capable of resolving smallholder agricultural plots raises possibilities for significant advances in measuring and understanding agricultural productivity in smallholder systems. However, since only imperfect yield data are typically available for model training and validation, assessing the accuracy of satellite-based estimates remains a central challenge.

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Journal Articles

Flood Size Increases Nonlinearly Across the Western United States in Response to Lower Snow‐Precipitation Ratios

Marshall Burke, Noah Diffenbaugh, Frances Davenport, Julio Herrera-Estrada
American Geophysical Union Publications , 2019

Many mountainous and high‐latitude regions have experienced more precipitation as rain rather than snow due to warmer winter temperatures. Further decreases in the annual snow fraction are projected under continued global warming, with potential impacts on flood risk. Here, we quantify the size of streamflow peaks in response to both seasonal and event‐specific rain‐fraction using stream gage observations from watersheds across the western United States.

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Journal Articles

Eyes in the Sky, Boots on the Ground: Assessing Satellite- and Ground-Based Approaches to Crop Yield Measurement and Analysis

David Lobell, Marshall Burke, George Azzari, Sydney Gourlay, Zhenong Jin, Talip Kilic, Siobhan Murray
American Journal of Agricultural Economics , 2019

Understanding the determinants of agricultural productivity requires accurate measurement of crop output and yield. In smallholder production systems across low- and middle-income countries, crop yields have traditionally been assessed based on farmer-reported production and land areas in household/farm surveys, occasionally by objective crop cuts for a sub-section of a farmer’s plot, and rarely using full-plot harvests. In parallel, satellite data continue to improve in terms of spatial, temporal, and spectral resolution needed to discern performance on smallholder plots.

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Working Papers

Climatic Constraints on Aggregate Economic Output

Marshall Burke, Vincent Tanutama
National Bureau of Economic Research , 2019

Efficient responses to climate change require accurate estimates of both aggregate damages and where and to whom they occur. While specific case studies and simulations have suggested that climate change disproportionately affects the poor, large-scale direct evidence of the magnitude and origins of this disparity is lacking. Similarly, evidence on aggregate damages, which is a central input into the evaluation of mitigation policy, often relies on country-level data whose accuracy has been questioned.

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Journal Articles

Smallholder maize area and yield mapping at national scales with Google Earth Engine

Zhenong Jin, George Azzari, Calum You, Stefania Di Tomasso, Stephen Aston, Marshall Burke, David Lobell
Remote Sensing of Environment , 2019

Accurate measurements of maize yields at field or subfield scales are useful for guiding agronomic practices and investments and policies for improving food security. Data on smallholder maize systems are currently sparse, but satellite remote sensing offers promise for accelerating learning about these systems. Here we document the use of Google Earth Engine (GEE) to build “wall-to-wall” 10 m resolution maps of (i) cropland presence, (ii) maize presence, and (iii) maize yields for the main 2017 maize season in Kenya and Tanzania.

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Journal Articles

Global warming has increased global economic inequality

Noah Diffenbaugh, Marshall Burke
Proceedings of the national Academy of Sciences of the United States of America , 2019

Understanding the causes of economic inequality is critical for achieving equitable economic development. To investigate whether global warming has affected the recent evolution of inequality, we combine counterfactual historical temperature trajectories from a suite of global climate models with extensively replicated empirical evidence of the relationship between historical temperature fluctuations and economic growth. Together, these allow us to generate probabilistic country-level estimates of the influence of anthropogenic climate forcing on historical economic output.

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Working Papers

Mapping Missing Population in Rural India: A Deep Learning Approach with Satellite Imagery

Wenjie Hu, Jay Harshadbhai Patel, Zoe-Alanah Robert, Paul Novosad, Samuel Asher, Zhongyi Tang, Marshall Burke, David Lobell, Stefano Ermon
AAAI/ACM Conference , 2019

Millions of people worldwide are absent from their country’s census. Accurate, current, and granular population metrics are critical to improving government allocation of resources, to measuring disease control, to responding to natural disasters, and to studying any aspect of human life in these communities. Satellite imagery can provide sufficient information to build a population map without the cost and time of a government census.

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Journal Articles

Armed conflict and child mortality in Africa: a geospatial analysis

Zachary Wagner, Sam Heft-Neal, Zulfiqar A Bhutta,Robert E Black, Marshall Burke, Eran Bendavid
The Lancet , 2018

The extent to which armed conflicts—events such as civil wars, rebellions, and interstate conflicts—are an important driver of child mortality is unclear. While young children are rarely direct combatants in armed conflict, the violent and destructive nature of such events might harm vulnerable populations residing in conflict-affected areas. A 2017 review estimated that deaths of individuals not involved in combat outnumber deaths of those directly involved in the conflict, often more than five to one.

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Journal Articles

Estimating global agricultural effects of geoengineering using volcanic eruptions

Jonathan Proctor, Solomon Hsiang, Jennifer Burney, Marshall Burke, Wolfram Schlenker
Nature , 2018

Solar radiation management is increasingly considered to be an option for managing global temperatures

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Journal Articles

Higher temperatures increase suicide rates in the United States and Mexico

Marshall Burke, Felipe González, Patrick Baylis, Sam Heft-Neal, Ceren Baysan, Sanjay Basu, and Solomon Hsiang
Nature Climate Change , 2018

Linkages between climate and mental health are often theorized, but remain poorly quantified. In particular, it is unknown whether the rate of suicide, a leading cause of death globally, is systematically affected by climatic conditions. Using comprehensive data from multiple decades for both the United States and Mexico, we find that suicide rates rise 0.7% in US counties and 2.1% in Mexican municipalities for a 1 °C increase in monthly average temperature. This effect is similar in hotter versus cooler regions and has not diminished over time, indicating limited historical adaptation.

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Journal Articles

Anticipated burden and mitigation of carbon-dioxide-induced nutritional deficiencies and related diseases: A simulation modeling study

Christopher Weyant, Margaret L. Brandeau, Marshall Burke, David Lobell, Eran Bendavid, Sanjay Basu
PLOS Medicine , 2018

Rising atmospheric carbon dioxide concentrations are anticipated to decrease the zinc and iron concentrations of crops. The associated disease burden and optimal mitigation strategies remain unknown. We sought to understand where and to what extent increasing carbon dioxide concentrations may increase the global burden of nutritional deficiencies through changes in crop nutrient concentrations, and the effects of potential mitigation strategies.

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Journal Articles

Robust relationship between air quality and infant mortality in Africa

Sam Heft-Neal, Jennifer Burney, Eran Bendavid, Marshall Burke (198750)
Nature , 2018

Poor air quality is thought to be an important mortality risk factor globally

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Journal Articles

Large potential reduction in economic damages under UN mitigation targets

Marshall Burke, W. Matt Davis, Noah Diffenbaugh
Nature , 2018

International climate change agreements typically specify global warming thresholds as policy targets, but the relative economic benefits of achieving these temperature targets remain poorly underst

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Working Papers

Sell Low and Buy High: Arbitrage and Local Price Effects in Kenyan Markets

Marshall Burke, Lauren Falcao Bergquist, Edward Miguel
NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH , 2018

Large and regular seasonal price fluctuations in local grain markets appear to offer African farmers substantial inter-temporal arbitrage opportunities, but these opportunities remain largely unexploited: small-scale farmers are commonly observed to "sell low and buy high" rather than the reverse. In a field experiment in Kenya, we show that credit market imperfections limit farmers' abilities to move grain inter-temporally.

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Working Papers

Eyes in the sky, boots on the ground : assessing satellite- and ground-based approaches to crop yield measurement and analysis in Uganda

David Lobell, George Azzari, Marshall Burke, Gourlay,Sydney, Zhenong Jin, Kilic,Talip, Murray,Siobhan
World Bank Group , 2018

Crop yields in smallholder systems are traditionally assessed using farmer-reported information in surveys, occasionally by crop cuts for a sub-section of a farmer's plot, and rarely using full-plot harvests. Accuracy and cost vary dramatically across methods. In parallel, satellite data is improving in terms of spatial, temporal, and spectral resolution needed to discern performance on smallholder plots.

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Journal Articles

Mapping Smallholder Yield Heterogeneity at Multiple Scales in Eastern Africa

Zhenong Jin, George Azzari, Marshall Burke, Stephen Aston, David Lobell
Remote Sensing , 2017

Accurate measurements of crop production in smallholder farming systems are critical to the understanding of yield constraints and, thus, setting the appropriate agronomic investments and policies for improving food security and reducing poverty. Nevertheless, mapping the yields of smallholder farms is challenging because of factors such as small field sizes and heterogeneous landscapes.

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Journal Articles

Satellite-based assessment of yield variation and its determinants in smallholder African systems

Marshall Burke, David Lobell
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America , 2017

The emergence of satellite sensors that can routinely observe millions of individual smallholder farms raises possibilities for monitoring and understanding agricultural productivity in many regions of the world. Here we demonstrate the potential to track smallholder maize yield variation in western Kenya, using a combination of 1-m Terra Bella imagery and intensive field sampling on thousands of fields over 2 y.

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