This Is AuburnElectronic Theses and Dissertations

Impact of Climate Change on Storage Conditions for Major Agricultural Commodities across the Contiguous United States




Lesinger, Kyle

Type of Degree

Master's Thesis


Crop Soils and Environmental Sciences


Changes in postharvest storage conditions due to climate change can directly affect energy usage and food supply and quality. However, no study has assessed climate change impacts on postharvest storage conditions in different climate regions over the contiguous United States (CONUS), a major agricultural producer around the world. The goal of this study is to assess the impact of climate change on cold storage conditions for the highest grossing crop for each of the nine climate regions within the CONUS. Storage degree days (SDDs) accumulate when ambient temperatures increase relative to crop storage base temperatures. Changes in SDDs and winter subperiod length were calculated for each regional crop using historical climate data and 20 downscaled global climate model projections. All regions project significant increases in SDD accumulation and decreases in winter subperiod length when compared to the historical reference period (1979-2019). Between years 2020-2080, Northwest and Northeast regions’ apples will be impacted most by SDD accumulation with yearly increases between 341-1046 SDDs. Between years 2020-2080, Northern Rockies and Plains regions’ potatoes are projected to lose the most days of winter (15-27 days), and Southeast regions’ peanuts will experience the greatest decrease in winter length (16-21%). Increases in SDD accumulation and decreases in winter length will have direct implications on future food supply and storage costs. This study is the first comprehensive analysis of climate change impacts on the storage conditions for agricultural commodities over heterogenous climate conditions at national scale, providing useful information for long-term agricultural storage planning.