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Situation 1
Jim Anderson, a young computer programmer, has won the lottery. After taxes, he will be getting enough money to realize his life's dream: to buy and operate a wheat farm in Kansas. Ever since he was a boy visiting his grandparent's farm, Jim has dreamed of enjoying the outdoors and the satisfaction of planting and harvesting wheat. Now that he can realize this dream, his wife has readily agreed that they should begin to plan their life on a farm.

Oddly enough, at just about the same time that Jim won the lottery, he happened to pick up a magazine that suggested some American farms may be in jeopardy from Mother Nature. The article discussed the greenhouse effect and global climate change. It stated that levels of atmospheric carbon dioxide--a greenhouse gas--have increased significantly over the past several decades. Elevated levels of atmospheric carbon dioxide may have dramatic effects on the Earth's climate, such as changes in precipitation and temperature patterns. If predicted changes come about, in 50 years farmers may see significant declines in the yields of wheat crops in the areas Jim had considered for his farm. This news was disturbing because Jim had hoped to find a farm that would provide not only for him and his wife, but also for his children's future benefit as well.

Jim and his wife have come to your firm, Earth Systems Science Environmental Research (ESSER) for technical advice. They want to make sure they are making a good investment. Using historical and predicted data provided in the "Remote Sensing" puzzle piece of this module, perform an Earth systems science analysis in order to determine how the yield of hard red winter wheat in Kansas will be affected by increased concentrations of atmospheric carbon dioxide as a result of its impacts on the four spheres. Provide recommendations or solutions as to whether or not Kansas wheat farmers will be able to maintain the current yields of this variety of wheat 50 years from now.

Situation 2
Your firm, Global Environmental Research (GER) has been approached by a group of Kansas wheat farmers who are concerned that predicted increases in atmospheric carbon dioxide may affect the climate in their region and may thereby have an adverse impact on their livelihood. They have been getting more and more information from agricultural research journals that suggests that global warming could lead to a decline in Kansas the yield of hard red winter wheat crops. They want you to evaluate the situation and determine whether or not there will be a significant change in carbon dioxide, precipitation, and/or temperature over the next 50 years. Based on your findings, they also would like you to make recommendations on the issue of whether they will be able to maintain the current yields of hard red winter wheat 50 years from now.

Image showing a fleet of combines harvesting wheat.
Photo: A fleet of combines harvesting wheat. Photo courtesy of the Denver Post.

As part of your evaluation, perform an Earth systems science analysis to determine the impacts of increased atmospheric carbon dioxide on the Earth's spheres. What--if any--changes have occurred in the Earth's spheres that support the hypothesis that global climate change is occurring at an increasingly rapid rate? How can such changes affect hard red winter wheat yield in Kansas?

ESS Protocol
First, you will do an Earth system science analysis. Then, you will make predictions, based on the results of the ESS analysis, concerning the future of the growth of hard-red wheat in Kansas 50 years in the future.

Following the steps below will help you to accomplish your task.

Step 1 - List what is known.

Step 2 -- List what is needed.

Step 3 -- Gather information to complete an ESS analysis.

  • Part I Event Image of a gold double-sided arrow.Sphere

  • Part II Sphere Image of a gold double-sided arrow.Sphere

Step 4 -- Present your findings.

 

 

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