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Journal Articles

Verification of extreme event attribution: Using out-of-sample observations to assess changes in probabilities of unprecedented events

Noah Diffenbaugh
Science Advances, 2020 March 18, 2020

Independent verification of anthropogenic influence on specific extreme climate events remains elusive. This study presents a framework for such verification. This framework reveals that previously published results based on a 1961–2005 attribution period frequently underestimate the influence of global warming on the probability of unprecedented extremes during the 2006–2017 period. This underestimation is particularly pronounced for hot and wet events, with greater uncertainty for dry events.

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Working Papers

Does Information About Climate Risk Affect Property Values?

Marshall Burke
The National Bureau of Economic Research, 2020 February 29, 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

On the role of anthropogenic climate change in the emerging food crisis in southern Africa in the 2019–2020 growing season

David Lobell
Global Change Biology, 2020 February 19, 2020

Researchers including David Lobell analyze how human-caused climate change has impacted a water deficit in Southern Africa and might contribute to a rising food security crisis in the region.

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Commentary

Viewpoint: Principles and priorities for one CGIAR

David Lobell
Food Policy, 2020 January 16, 2020
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Journal Articles

Weakly Supervised Deep Learning for Segmentation of Remote Sensing Imagery

Sherrie Wang, George Azzari, David Lobell
Remote Sensing MDPI, 2020 January 7, 2020

Accurate automated segmentation of remote sensing data could benefit applications from land cover mapping and agricultural monitoring to urban development surveyal and disaster damage assessment. While convolutional neural networks (CNNs) achieve state-of-the-art accuracy when segmenting natural images with huge labeled datasets, their successful translation to remote sensing tasks has been limited by low quantities of ground truth labels, especially fully segmented ones, in the remote sensing domain.

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Journal Articles

The downstream air pollution impacts of the transition from coal to natural gas in the United States

Jennifer Burney
Nature Sustainability, 2020 January 6, 2020

The recent shift in the United States from coal to natural gas as a primary feedstock for the production of electric power has reduced the intensity of sectoral carbon dioxide emissions, but—due to gaps in monitoring—its downstream pollution-related effects have been less well understood. Here, I analyse old units that have been taken offline and new units that have come online to empirically link technology switches to observed aerosol and ozone changes and subsequent impacts on human health, crop yields and regional climate.

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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 December 27, 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 December 20, 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

Satellites reveal a small positive yield effect from conservation tillage across the US Corn Belt

Jillian Deines, David Lobell, Sherrie Wang
Environmental Research Letters, 2019 December 6, 2019

Machine learning and satellite data of crops shows that farms that till the soil less can increase yields of corn and soybeans and improve the health of the soil. Farmers have resisted a switch to reduced tilling because it was believed to reduce yields. Instead, it may increase yields while lowering production costs and reducing soil erosion.

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Journal Articles

Causes of Indonesia’s forest fires

Rosamond L. Naylor, Ryan Edwards, Matt Higgins, Walter P. Falcon
World Development Journal, 2019 November 25, 2019

The economic costs of Indonesia’s 2015 forest fires are estimated to exceed US $16 billion, with more than 100,000 premature deaths. On several days the fires emitted more carbon dioxide than the entire United States economy. Here, we combine detailed geospatial data on fire and local climatic conditions with rich administrative data to assess the underlying causes of Indonesia’s forest fires at district and village scales. We find that El Niño events explain most of the year-on-year variation in fire.

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Conference Memos

The Future of Food from the Sea

Rosamond L. Naylor
High Level Panel for a Sustainable Ocean Economy, 2019 November 19, 2019

As the global population and people’s incomes rise, the demand for ocean-derived food will continue to grow. At the same time, hunger and malnutrition continues to be a challenge in many countries, particularly in rural or developing areas. Looking to the ocean as a source of protein produced using low-carbon methodologies will be critical for food security, nutrition and economic stability, especially in coastal countries where hunger and malnutrition are a challenge.

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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 October 26, 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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Journal Articles

The impact of agricultural interventions can be doubled by using satellite data

Meha Jain, Balwinder-Singh, Preeti Rao, Amit K. Srivastava, Shishpal Poonia, Jennifer Blesh, George Azzari, Andrew J. McDonald, David Lobell
Nature Sustainability, 2019 October 7, 2019

Feeding a growing population while reducing negative environmental impacts is one of the greatest challenges of the coming decades. We show that microsatellite data can be used to detect the impact of sustainable intensification interventions at large scales and to target the fields that would benefit the most, thereby doubling yield gains.

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Journal Articles

The role of irrigation in changing wheat yields and heat sensitivity in India

Esha Zaveri, David Lobell
Nature Communications, 2019 September 12, 2019

Irrigation has been pivotal in wheat’s rise as a major crop in India and is likely to be increasingly important as an adaptation response to climate change. Here we use historical data across 40 years to quantify the contribution of irrigation to wheat yield increases and the extent to which irrigation reduces sensitivity to heat.

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Working Papers

Why Villages Succeed or Fail in Preventing Fires in West Kalimantan

Gracia Hadiwidjaja
2019 September 2, 2019
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Journal Articles

Long-Run Uncertainties for U.S. Agriculture

Rosamond L. Naylor,
Kansas City Federal Bank Economic Review, 2019 July 1, 2019

Changes in global food and fuel demand, the effects of climate change, and regional depletion of groundwater resources for irrigation create uncertainty for U.S. farmers.

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Working Papers

Climatic Constraints on Aggregate Economic Output

Marshall Burke, Vincent Tanutama
National Bureau of Economic Research, 2019 May 22, 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

Integrating satellite and climate data to predict wheat yield in Australia using machine learning approaches

Yaping Cai, Kaiyu Guan, David Lobell, Andries B.Potgieter, Shaowen Wanga, Jian Peng, Tianfang Xu, Senthold Assen, Yongguang Zhang, Liangzhi You, Bin Peng
Agricultural and Forest Meteorology , 2019 May 15, 2019

Wheat is the most important staple crop grown in Australia, and Australia is one of the top wheat exporting countries globally. Timely and reliable wheat yield prediction in Australia is important for regional and global food security. Prior studies use either climate data, or satellite data, or a combination of these two to build empirical models to predict crop yield. However, though the performance of yield prediction using empirical methods is improved by combining the use of climate and satellite data, the contributions from different data sources are still not clear.

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Journal Articles

Sustainable development of the palm oil sector in the Congo Basin

Elsa Ordway, Denis J. Sonwa, Patrice Levang, Fideline Mboringong, Ludovic Miaro III, Rosamond L. Naylor, Raymond N. Nkongho
Center for International Forestry Research Center for International Forestry Research, 2019 May 10, 2019
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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 May 1, 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

Water Use Efficiency as a Constraint and Target for Improving the Resilience and Productivity of C3 and C4 Crops

Andrew D.B. Leakey, John N. Ferguson, Charles P. Pignon, Alex Wu, Zhenong Jin, Graeme L. Hammer, David Lobell
Annual Review of Plant Biology , 2019 April 30, 2019

The ratio of plant carbon gain to water use, known as water use efficiency (WUE), has long been recognized as a key constraint on crop production and an important target for crop improvement. WUE is a physiologically and genetically complex trait that can be defined at a range of scales. Many component traits directly influence WUE, including photosynthesis, stomatal and mesophyll conductances, and canopy structure. Interactions of carbon and water relations with diverse aspects of the environment and crop development also modulate WUE.

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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 April 23, 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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Journal Articles

Strengthened scientific support for the Endangerment Finding for atmospheric greenhouse gases

Philip B. Duffy, Christopher B. Field, Noah Diffenbaugh, Scott C. Doney, Zoe Dutton, Sherri Goodman, Lisa Heinzerling, Solomon Hsiang, David Lobell, Loretta J. Mickley, Samuel Myers, Susan M. Natali, Camille Parmesan, Susan Tierney, A. Park Williams
Science, 2019 March 7, 2019

We assess scientific evidence that has emerged since the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s 2009 Endangerment Finding for six well-mixed greenhouse gases and find that this new evidence lends increased support to the conclusion that these gases pose a danger to public health and welfare.

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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 February 20, 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

Satellite mapping of tillage practices in the North Central US region from 2005 to 2016

George Azzari, Patricio Grassini, Juan Edreira, Shawn Conley, Spyridon Mourtzinis, David Lobell
Remote Sensing of Environment, 2019 February 1, 2019

Low-intensity tillage has become more popular among farmers in the United States and many other regions.

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