Climatic Apple Turnover: Forecasting Ideal Orchard Locations

EarthzineDEVELOP 2015 Summer VPS, DEVELOP Virtual Poster Session, Monitoring Forested and Agricultural Landscapes

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This Plant Hardiness Zone map of Washington state serves as a baseline for determining where apples thrive. This map was created using MODIS LST data from 2002-2015, and shows higher PHZs than the current USDA map, which relies on data from 1976-2005. This may indicate that Washington‰Ûªs climate is warming. Zones 5-7 are best for apple growth, shown primarily in the northern and eastern parts of the state. Image Credit: NW US Agriculture III Team

This Plant Hardiness Zone map of Washington state serves as a baseline for determining where apples thrive. This map was created using MODIS LST data from 2002-2015, and shows higher PHZs than the current USDA map, which relies on data from 1976-2005. This may indicate that Washington‰Ûªs climate is warming. Zones 5-7 are best for apple growth, shown primarily in the northern and eastern parts of the state. Image Credit: NW US Agriculture III Team

Category:åÊMonitoring Forested and Agricultural Landscapes

Project Team: Northwest U.S. Agriculture III

Team Location: NASA Langley Research Center – Hampton, Virginia

Authors:

Madeline Ruid

Teresa Fenn

Matthew Mullen

Sarah Philbrick

James Hendrickson

Mentors/Advisors:

Dr. Kenton Ross (NASA DEVELOP National Program)

Dr. Noel C Baker (NASA Postdoctoral Fellow)

Abstract:

Washington state produces 65 percent of the nation‰Ûªs apples, adding $2.2 billion to the U.S. economy. Washington‰Ûªs warm, dry summers and cool, wet winters provide excellent conditions for apple growth. However, there is a strong likelihood that Washington‰Ûªs suitability for apple farming could be altered by current and future climate change. Currently, the U.S. Department of Agriculture determines which plant species will thrive in a particular location based on its Plant Hardiness Zone (PHZ) Map. Apples grow best when climate conditions match zones 5, 6, or 7. By creating maps of current and projected PHZs, apple growers will be able to decide if it would be beneficial to move apple orchards in the upcoming decades and where the most suitable conditions will be located. Using Aqua MODIS Land Surface Temperature (LST) from 2002 to 2015, minimum temperatures per day and month were extracted to create a present-day PHZ map. Additionally, future climate model air temperature forecasts from the Coupled Model Intercomparison Project Phase 5 (CMIP5) for 2020 to 2100 were used to determine future PHZs. Growing Degree Days (GDD) also were calculated to create orchard suitability maps. Since the ability of apple trees to thrive is dependent on GDDs, PHZs, and average growing season temperature, these maps provided further insight into which regions of Washington may be suitable for apple orchards in the future. Final maps of current and forecasted PHZs will allow stakeholders to identify regions that are currently optimal for apple production, and see how those regions may move with forecasted climate change.

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