Peruvian Potatoes in Peril: The Impacts of a Changing Climate

EarthzineDEVELOP 2015 Fall VPS, DEVELOP Virtual Poster Session, Monitoring Change for Resource Management, Original

This is a part of the 2015 Fall VPS. For more VPS articles, click here

Multi-layer overlay of potato suitability factors for the Parque de la Papa in Peru. Image Credit: Peru Climate Team

Multi-layer overlay of potato suitability factors for the Parque de la Papa in Peru. Image Credit: Peru Climate Team

Category:åÊMonitoring Change for Resource Management

Project Team: Peru Climate

Team Location: NASA Langley Research Center ‰ÛÒ Hampton, Virginia


Rebekke Muench

Kayla McDonald

Ryan Murphy

Michael Sclater

Richard Rose

Dajon Begin


Dr. Kenton Ross (NASA DEVELOP National Program Science Advisor)

Noel Baker (NASA Post-Doc Program)


Changing climates are affecting agricultural production around the world. This impact will be particularly severe in tropical highland regions like the Peruvian Andes, where shifts in climate have caused changes in suitable areas for endemic crops. In the Parque de la Papa (Peruvian Potato Park), evidence suggests that potato cultivation has shifted to higher altitudes in response to increasing temperatures and pest populations. The primary concern is the current suitable lands within Parque de la Papa will eventually become unsuitable for traditional potato production. In addition, the impact of shifting climates threaten both agrobiodiversity and community livelihoods within the park and surrounding region. The objective of this project was to develop an increased understanding of changes in climate and their influence on potato cultivation in the park using NASA Earth observations. Land surface temperature data from Aqua and Terra Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) were used to derive growing degree days for the region. Historical and current precipitation was assessed using Tropical Rainfall Measuring Mission (TRMM) and Global Precipitation Measurement (GPM) data. Current and historical potato cultivation areas were estimated using sensors aboard Landsat 4, 5, 7, and 8. A digital elevation model (DEM) and a slope map were created from the Shuttle Radar Topography Mission (SRTM) data. These factors were incorporated into suitability maps for weevils, a pest in the park. Finally, current and future potato suitability maps were developed using growing degree days, precipitation, elevation, weevil suitability, and slope.

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