Performance of behavioral theory-informed integrative models for predicting impacts of reduced water availability

Authors: Jason Hawes*, Department of Forestry and Natural Resources, Purdue University, Zhao Ma, Department of Forestry and Natural Resources, Purdue University , Morey Burnham, Department of Sociology, Social Work and Criminology, Idaho State University , David Yu, Lyles School of Civil Engineering and Department of Political Science, Purdue University
Topics: Coupled Human and Natural Systems, Hazards and Vulnerability
Keywords: agent-based modeling, decision making, adaptation
Session Type: Paper
Day: 4/7/2019
Start / End Time: 8:00 AM / 9:40 AM
Room: Marriott Ballroom Salon 1, Marriott, Lobby Level
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


The arid and semi-arid Western United States contains some of the most prolific, but vulnerable agricultural land in the world. In this region, farmers are nearly exclusively dependent on irrigated agriculture for cash crops, while climate change threatens to dramatically change precipitation patterns, the hydrologic cycle more generally, and the amount of water available for irrigation. The impacts of this shift are not only dependent on the climatic and the associated biophysical changes; rather, they are deeply entangled with social and economic realities in the Western United States. Thus, enhanced tools, particularly improved methods of modeling interactions among social, hydrological, and agricultural systems, will be necessary to understand outcomes of social-ecological change. In this presentation, we describe a new agent-based model designed to investigate farmer adaptation to water scarcity in the Eastern Snake Plain of Southeastern Idaho. Designed to be portable to other locations throughout the Western United States, the model integrates advanced crop modeling with behavioral theory-based algorithms. It has been operationalized in Southeastern Idaho as the region has undergone a significant policy shift, resulting in an average of 13% cut in groundwater available for farmers. This testbed site provides a natural laboratory for integrative modeling, and our team reports on the early results of this study. Overall, our models appear to offer strong predictive and analytical capabilities; however, models informed by different behavioral theories offer differential predictions of impacts of adaptation strategies. We will also discuss the potential for model expansion and application in other regions.

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