The Effects of Spatial Scale of Climate Scenarios on Economic Assessments: An Example from U.S. Agriculture Academic Article uri icon


  • The appropriate level of spatial resolution for climate scenarios is a key uncertainty in climate impact studies and regional integrated assessments. To the extent that such uncertainty may affect the magnitude of economic estimates of climate change, it has implications for the public policy debates concerning the efficiency of CO2 control options. In this article, we investigate the effects that different climate scenario resolutions have on economic estimates of the impacts of future climate change on agriculture in the United States. These results are derived via a set of procedures and an analytical model that has been used previously in climate change assessments. The results demonstrate that the spatial scale of climate scenarios affects the estimates of both regional changes in crop yields and the economic impact on the agricultural sector as a whole. An assessment based on the finer scale climatological information consistently yielded a less favorable assessment of the implications of climate change. Regional indicators of economic activity were of opposite sign in some regions, based on the scenario scale. Such differences in economic magnitudes or signs are potentially important in examining whether past climate change assessments may misstate the economic consequences of such changes. The results reported here suggest that refinement of the spatial scale of scenarios should be carefully considered in future impacts research.

published proceedings

  • Climatic Change

altmetric score

  • 5

author list (cited authors)

  • Adams, R. M., McCarl, B. A., & Mearns, L. O.

citation count

  • 38

complete list of authors

  • Adams, Richard M||McCarl, Bruce A||Mearns, Linda O

publication date

  • September 2003