FSE Publications

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Journal Article

Long-Run Uncertainties for U.S. Agriculture

Rosamond L. Naylor,
Kansas City Federal Bank Economic Review , 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 Paper

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 Article

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

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 Article

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
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Journal Article

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 Article

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

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 Article

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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Journal Article

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

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 Paper

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 Article

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

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

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Journal Article

Crop type mapping without field-level labels: Random forest transfer and unsupervised clustering techniques

Sherrie Wang, George Azzari, David Lobell
Remote Sensing of Environment , 2019

Crop type mapping at the field level is necessary for a variety of applications in agricultural monitoring and food security.

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Journal Article

Oil palm expansion and deforestation in Southwest Cameroon associated with proliferation of informal mills

Elsa Ordway, Rosamond L. Naylor, Raymond Nkongho, Eric Lambin
Nature , 2019

Oil palm expansion resulted in 2 million hectares (Mha) of forest loss globally in 2000–2010. Despite accounting for 24% (4.5 Mha) of the world’s total oil palm cultivated area, expansion dynamics in sub-Saharan Africa have been overlooked. We show that in Southwest Cameroon, a top producing region of Africa, 67% of oil palm expansion from 2000–2015 occurred at the expense of forest. Contrary to the publicized narrative of industrial-scale expansion, most oil palm expansion and associated deforestation is occurring outside large agro-industrial concessions.

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Journal Article

Decentralization and the environment: Assessing smallholder oil palm development in Indonesia

Rosamond L. Naylor, Matt Higgins, Ryan Edwards, Walter P. Falcon
Ambio , 2019

Indonesia’s oil palm expansion during the last two decades has resulted in widespread environmental and health damages through land clearing by fire and peat conversion, but it has also contributed to rural poverty alleviation. In this paper, we examine the role that decentralization has played in the process of Indonesia’s oil palm development, particularly among independent smallholder producers.

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Journal Article

Model vs. experiment to predict crop losses—Response

Curtis A. Deutsch, Joshua J. Tewksbury, Michelle Tigchelaar, David S. Battisti, Scott C. Merrill, Raymond B. Huey, Rosamond L. Naylor
Science , 2018

Our Report draws attention to a complex but understudied issue: How will climate warming alter losses of major food crops to insect pests? Because empirical evidence on plant-insect-climate interactions is scarce and geographically localized, we developed a physiologically based model that incorporates strong and well-established effects of temperature on metabolic rates and on population growth rates.

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Journal Article

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

George Azzari, Patricio Grassini, Juan Ignaci, Rattalino Edreira, Shawn Conley, Spyridon Mourtzinis, David Lobell
Remote Sensing of Environment , 2018

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

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Working Paper

Sustainable and Equitable Increases in Fruit and Vegetable Productivity and Consumption are Needed to Achieve Global Nutrition Security

Rosamond L. Naylor, et al.
Aspen Global Change Institute , 2018

Increased intake of fruits and vegetables (F&V) is recommended for most populations across the globe. However, the current state of global and regional food systems is such that F&V availability, the production required to sustain them, and consumer food choices are all severely deficient to meet this need.

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Journal Article

A move beyond sustainability certification: The evolution of the chocolate industry's sustainable sourcing practices

Tannis Thorlakson
Business Strategy and Development , 2018

Companies' sustainable sourcing practices play an increasing role in addressing the social and environmental challenges in agricultural supply chains. Yet the approaches companies take to regulate their supply chains continue to evolve. I use the chocolate industry as a critical case to explore how and why companies have changed their approaches to sustainable cocoa sourcing over the last 20 years.

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Journal Article

Increase in crop losses to insect pests in a warming climate

Curtis A. Deutsch, Joshua J. Tewksbury, Michelle Tigchelaar, David S. Battisti, Scott C. Merrill, Raymond B. Huey, Rosamond L. Naylor
Science , 2018

Crop responses to climate warming suggest that yields will decrease as growing-season temperatures increase. Deutsch et al. show that this effect may be exacerbated by insect pests (see the Perspective by Riegler). Insects already consume 5 to 20% of major grain crops. The authors' models show that for the three most important grain crops—wheat, rice, and maize—yield lost to insects will increase by 10 to 25% per degree Celsius of warming, hitting hardest in the temperate zone.

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Journal Article

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 Article

The paradox of irrigation efficiency

Quentin Grafton, J. Williams, C. J. Perry, F. Molle, C. Ringler, P. Steduto, B. Udall, S. A. Wheeler, Y. Wang, D. Garrick, R. G. Allen
Science , 2018

Reconciling higher freshwater demands with finite freshwater resources remains one of the great policy dilemmas.

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Journal Article

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 Article

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 Article

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 Article

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 Article

Hierarchical Modeling of Seed Variety Yields and Decision Making for Future Planting Plans

Huaiyang Zhong, Xiaocheng Li, David Lobell, Stefano Ermon, Margaret Brandeau
Environment Systems and Decisions , 2018

Eradicating hunger and malnutrition is a key development goal of the twenty first century. This paper addresses the problem of optimally identifying seed varieties to reliably increase crop yield within a risk-sensitive decision making framework. Specifically, a novel hierarchical machine learning mechanism for predicting crop yield (the yield of different seed varieties of the same crop) is introduced.

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