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Land cover, land use, and climate change impacts on agriculture in southern Vietnam [PhD thesis].
14/10/20 04:11PM
Caitlin Kontgis. University of Wisconsin Madison, 2016.
Abstract: Global environmental change is rapidly changing the surface of the Earth in varied and irrevocable ways. Across the world, land cover and land use have been altered to accommodate the needs of expanding populations, and climate change has required plant, animal, and human communities to adapt to novel climates. These changes have created unprecedented new ecosystems that affect the planet in ways that are not fully understood and difficult to predict. Of utmost concern is food security, and whether agro-ecosystems will adapt and respond to widespread changes so that growing global populations can be sustained. To understand how one staple food crop, rice, responds to global environmental change in southern Vietnam, this dissertation aims to accomplish three main tasks: (1) quantify the rate and form of urban and peri-urban expansion onto cropland using satellite imagery and demographic data, (2) track changes to annual rice paddy harvests using time series satellite data, and (3) model the potential effects of climate change on rice paddies by incorporating farmer interview data into a crop systems model. --- The results of these analyses show that the footprint of Ho Chi Minh City grew nearly five times between 1990 and 2012. Mismatches between urban development and population growth suggest that peri-urbanization is driven by supply-side investment, and that much of this form of land expansion has occurred near major transit routes. In the nearby Mekong River Delta, triple-cropped rice paddy area doubled between 2000 and 2010, from one-third to two-thirds of rice fields, while paddy area expanded by about 10%. These results illustrate the intensification of farming practices since Vietnam liberalized its economy, yet it is not clear whether such practices are environmentally sustainable long-term. Although triple-cropped paddy fields have expanded, future overall production is estimated to decline without the effects of CO2 fertilization. Temperatures are anticipated to increase by mid-century, and model results suggest this will cause depressed yields that cannot be offset by increased water or fertilizer. This finding emphasizes the need for a coordinated, actionable adaptation plan so that climate change does not devastate local ecosystems and livelihoods.