Copula-based statistical modelling of synoptic-scale climate indices for quantifying and managing agricultural risks in australia

Nguyen-Huy, Thong ORCID: (2018) Copula-based statistical modelling of synoptic-scale climate indices for quantifying and managing agricultural risks in australia. [Thesis (PhD/Research)]

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Australia is an agricultural nation characterised by one of the most naturally diverse climates in the world, which translates into significant sources of risk for agricultural production and subsequent farm revenues. Extreme climatic events have been significantly affecting large parts of Australia in recent decades, contributing to an increase in the vulnerability of crops, and leading to subsequent higher risk to a large number of agricultural producers. However, attempts at better managing climate related risks in the agricultural sector have confronted many challenges.

First, crop insurance products, including classical claim-based and index-based insurance, are among the financial implements that allow exposed individuals to pool resources to spread their risk. The classical claim-based insurance indemnifies according to a claim of crop loss from the insured customer, and so can easily manage idiosyncratic risk, which is the case where the loss occurs independently.Nevertheless, the existence of systemic weather risk (covariate risk), which is the spread of extreme events over locations and times (e.g., droughts and floods), has been identified as the main reason for the failure of private insurance markets, such as the classical multi-peril crop insurance, for agricultural crops. The index-based insurance is appropriate to handle systemic but not idiosyncratic risk. The indemnity payments of the index-based insurance are triggered by a predefined threshold of an index (e.g., rainfall), which is related to such losses. Since the covariate nature of a climatic event, it sanctions the insurers to predict losses and ascertain indemnifications for a huge number of insured customers across a wide geographical area. However, basis risk, which is related to the strength of the relationship between the predefined indices used to estimate the average loss by the insured community and the actual loss of insured assets by an individual, is a major barrier that hinders uptake of the index-based insurance. Clearly, the high basis risk, which is a weak relationship between the index and loss, destroys the willingness of potential customers to purchase this insurance product.

Second, the impact of multiple synoptic-scale climate mode indices (e.g., Southern Oscillation Index (SOI) and Indian Ocean Index (IOD)) on precipitation and crop yield is not identical in different spatial locations and at different times or seasons across the Australian continent since the influence of large-scale climate heterogeneous over the different regions. The occurrence, role, and amplitude of synoptic-scale climate modes contributing to the variability of seasonal crop production have shifted in recent decades. These variables generally complicate the climate and crop yield relationship that cannot be captured by traditional modelling and analysis approaches commonly found in published agronomic literature such as
linear regression. In addition, the traditional linear analysis is not able to model the nonlinear and asymmetric interdependence between extreme insurance losses, which may occur in the case of systemic risk. Relying on the linear method may lead to the problem that different behaviour may be observed from joint distributions, particularly in the upper and lower regions, with the same correlation coefficient. As a result, the likelihood of extreme insurance losses can be underestimated or overestimated that lead to inaccuracies in the pricing of insurance policies. Another alternative is the use of the multivariate normal distribution, where the joint distribution is uniquely defined using the marginal distributions of variables and their correlation matrix. However, phenomena are not always normally distributed in practice.

It is therefore important to develop new, scientifically verified, strategic measures to solve the challenges as mentioned above in order to support mitigating the influences of the climate-related risk in the agricultural sector. Copulas provide an advanced statistical approach to model the joint distribution of multivariate random variables. This technique allows estimating the marginal distributions of individual variables independently with their dependence structures. It is clear that the copula method is superior to the conventional linear regression since it does not require
variables have to be normally distributed and their correlation can be either linear or non-linear.

This doctoral thesis therefore adopts the advanced copula technique within a statistical modelling framework that aims to model: (1) The compound influence of synoptic-scale climate indices (i.e., SOI and IOD) and climate variables (i.e., precipitation) to develop a probabilistic precipitation forecasting system where the integrated role of different factors that govern precipitation dynamics are considered; (2) The compound influence of synoptic-scale climate indices on wheat yield; (3) The scholastic interdependencies of systemic weather risks where potential adaptation strategies are evaluated accordingly; and (4) The risk-reduction efficiencies of geographical diversifications in wheat farming portfolio optimisation. The study areas are Australia’s agro-ecological (i.e., wheat belt) zones where major seasonal wheat and other cereal crops are grown. The results from the first and second objectives can be used for not only forecasting purposes but also understanding the basis risk in the case of pricing climate index-based insurance products. The third and fourth objectives assess the interactions of drought events across different locations and in different seasons and feasible adaptation tools. The findings of these studies can provide useful information for decision-makers in the agricultural sector.

The first study found the significant relationship between SOI, IOD, and precipitation. The results suggest that spring precipitation in Australia, except for the western part, can be probabilistically forecasted three months ahead. It is more interesting that the combination of SOI and IOD as the predictors will improve the performance of the forecast model. Similarly, the second study indicated that the largescale climate indices could provide knowledge of wheat crops up to six months in advance. However, it is noted that the influence of different climate indices varies over locations and times. Furthermore, the findings derived from the third study demonstrated the spatio-temporally stochastic dependence of the drought events. The results also prove that time diversification is potentially more effective in reducing the systemic weather risk compared to spatially diversifying strategy. Finally, the fourth objective revealed that wheat-farming portfolio could be effectively optimised through the geographical diversification.

The outcomes of this study will lead to the new application of advanced statistical tools that provide a better understanding of the compound influence of synoptic-scale climatic conditions on seasonal precipitation, and therefore on wheat crops in key regions over the Australian continent. Furthermore, a comprehensive analysis of systemic weather risks performed through advanced copula-statistical models can help improve and develop novel agricultural adaptation strategies in not only the selected study region but also globally, where climate extreme events pose a serious threat to the sustainability and survival of the agricultural industry. Finally, the evaluation of the effectiveness of diversification strategies implemented in this study reveals new evidence on whether the risk pooling methods could potentially mitigate climate risks for the agricultural sector and subsequently, help farmers in prior preparation for uncertain climatic events.

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Item Type: Thesis (PhD/Research)
Item Status: Live Archive
Additional Information: Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) thesis. This PhD was supported by USQ Postgraduate Scholarship 2017 - 2019.
Faculty/School / Institute/Centre: Historic - Faculty of Health, Engineering and Sciences - School of Agricultural, Computational and Environmental Sciences (1 Jul 2013 - 5 Sep 2019)
Faculty/School / Institute/Centre: Historic - Faculty of Health, Engineering and Sciences - School of Agricultural, Computational and Environmental Sciences (1 Jul 2013 - 5 Sep 2019)
Supervisors: Deo, Ravinesh C.; Khan, Shahjahan; Mushtaq, Shahbaz
Date Deposited: 11 Sep 2019 03:24
Last Modified: 21 Apr 2021 01:44
Uncontrolled Keywords: agricultural risks; Australia; statistical modelling
Fields of Research (2008): 07 Agricultural and Veterinary Sciences > 0701 Agriculture, Land and Farm Management > 070104 Agricultural Spatial Analysis and Modelling
07 Agricultural and Veterinary Sciences > 0703 Crop and Pasture Production > 070302 Agronomy
Socio-Economic Objectives (2008): E Expanding Knowledge > 97 Expanding Knowledge > 970107 Expanding Knowledge in the Agricultural and Veterinary Sciences
Identification Number or DOI: doi:10.26192/xa1p-8373

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