By Timothy S. Thomas
Most scientists studying the impact of climate change on agriculture use climate models that project out to 2050 or beyond – some even going to 2100. Even those focusing more short-term rarely study anything earlier than 2030 – the models just have too little change in that time period for them to produce anything of interest. These climate studies can be of significant help to USAID missions when working with host governments in developing longer-range investment plans in the agricultural and environmental sectors, and can also be of help in assessing climate risk in activities that are meant to have impact for multiple decades.
Yet many climate risk assessments for USAID activities need to assess climate impacts for just a few years into the future, for example, just until the early 2020s. For those assessments, typical climate models and studies are not helpful. In such cases, missions would be better served by looking at climate trends from gridded weather data available from a number of sources.