I’ve been busy the last several weeks gearing up for the semester and my upcoming qualifying exam! I’m trying to wrap up a few outstanding research projects so I can focus on reviewing previous course material. And just in time for snowstorm Nemo, I just finished a big project that’s been on my plate and stalled for the last several months. I am currently working on a project to estimate the economic impact of climate change on tea production in China. I am advised by Dr. Sean Cash and also work with a group of faculty members at Tufts University.
Dr. Selena Ahmed is Project Coordinator and has expertise in how climate change impacts tea quality attributes and production. She is also interested in the resilience of tea agro-forest systems in the face of climate change. She has traveled extensively to Yunnan Province and worked with farmers there to understand tea ecosystems. Our research team also includes Dr. Colin Orians, Dr. Timothy Griffin, and Dr. Al Robbat. Our team’s expertise is interdisciplinary and includes researchers in the fields of ecology/biology (Orians), agronomy/food systems (Griffin), chemistry (Robbat), and economics (Cash/Nemec). We are also informally collaborating with researchers at the Tea Research Institute at the Chinese Ministry of Agricultural Science.
Sean and I are working on the economic portion of the project. We will be examining how a variety of weather variables – monsoon onset and duration, total monsoon precipitation, temperatures, solar radiation – have impacted yields across China. We are working with Dr. Bruce Anderson at Boston University to collect our key climate variables.
I’ve been working on creating a spatial database of the counties where tea production occurs across China’s major tea producing provinces. Sounds like an easy task, but it was actually a six-month project. I have been assembling anecdotal and quantitative data on the sites of production across China since last summer. It was very difficult to assemble this information because it was both sparse and scattered across a variety of Chinese sources. Once I gathered all the data, I then had to code each county in China (there are about 2,400 of them!) so that my software program could distinguish between tea-producing and non tea-producing provinces.
The final product is above. On the eve of this major storm, it feels good to have a huge chunk of this project behind me! I’m also glad I was able to apply my GIS skills to this project.
Agriculture, Food and Environment Program
Friedman School of Nutrition Science & Policy Tufts University
150 Harrison Avenue, Room 108
Boston, MA 02111