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Cold Hardiness Tools



REACCH Research

Graduate student Lauren Parker from the Dept. of Geography, University of Idaho.
Ph. D. candidate Lauren Parker is a research assistant in the Department of Geography at the University of Idaho supported by REACCH and supervised by Dr. John Abatzoglou. Lauren’s research includes examining how climate change may shift the geography of agriculture across the US.


The USDA uses 30-year averages of annual coldest temperature to assign hardiness zones that are used in horticulture to identify where plants can survive over winter. Lauren used daily minimum temperature data from 20 global climate models statistically downscaled to 4-km grids over the contiguous USA. She calculated the average annual coldest temperatures from 30 year averages from a historical time period (1971-2000) and from future time periods (2010-2039, 2040-2069, 2070-2099) using the low/high emission future scenarios.


Lauren found that annual coldest temperatures are projected to warm at a greater rate than average winter minimum temperatures, resulting in a widespread shift in cold hardiness zones across the US. While this may increase the potential for cultivating cold-intolerant crops further north, it could also increase pressure from invasive species and pests with subsequent impacts on agricultural management.
The shift in USDA cold hardiness zones projected by global climate model outputs from 1979-2000 to mid-21st century (2040-2069).


Parker, L.E. and J.T. Abatzoglou. 2016. Projected changes in cold hardiness zones and suitable overwinter ranges of perennial crops over the United States. Environmental Research Letters. [Article].