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Modeling Climate Impacts of Growing Perennial Biomass Crops on U.S. Marginal Land

Event Type
Water Resources Engineering Science
1017 Civil and Environmental Engineering Building (Hydrosystems)
wifi event
Mar 24, 2023   12:00 - 12:50 pm  
Dr. Yufeng He
Jennifer J Bishop
Originating Calendar
Water Resources Engineering and Science Seminars

Regional Climate Benefits of Growing Perennial Biomass Crops on Marginal Lands

Perennial grasses can reduce soil erosion, restore carbon stocks, and provide feedstocks for biofuels and bioproducts. Here, we show an additional benefit, amelioration of regional climate warming, and drying. Growing Miscanthus × giganteus, an example of perennial biomass crops, on US marginal land cools the Midwest Heartland summer by up to 1 degree C as predicted by a new coupled climate-crop modeling system. This cooling is mainly caused by the increased duration and size of the Miscanthus × giganteus leaf canopy when compared with the existing vegetations on marginal land, resulting in larger solar reflection, more evapotranspiration, and decreased sensible heat transfer. Summer rainfall is increased through mesoscale circulation responses by 23–29 mm (14%–15%) and water vapor pressure deficit reduced by 5%–13%, lowering potential transpiration for all Midwest crops. Similar but weaker effects are simulated in the Southern Heartland. This positive feedback through the climate–crop interaction and teleconnection leads to 4%–8% more biomass production and potentially 12% higher corn and soybean yields, with greater yield stability. Growing perennials on marginal land could be a feasible solution to climate change mitigation and adaptation by strengthening food security and providing sustainable alternatives to fossil-based products. Our ongoing work further considers allocations of multiple biomass crops to maximize yield potential and climate impact in the U.S. region.

Dr. Yufeng He is a postdoctoral research associate in Matthews Research Group at Carl R. Woese Institute for Genomic Biology, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. His research focuses on modeling work of the interactions among climate, land-surface process, and crop growth using regional climate model CWRF and mechanistic crop model BioCro. Yufeng earned his bachelor’s degree in applied mathematics and his master’s degree in meteorology from East China Normal University. He later went on to earn his Ph.D. in environmental science (focusing on micro-meteorology) from Bangor University in the U.K. and then completed a postdoctoral study in climate-land-crop model coupling from the University of Maryland at College Park.

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