The researchers, led by Assistant Professor Noah Diffenbaugh, said global warming has made the early arrival of spring commonplace across the planet.
"Our experiment is unprecedented," he said. "It's the first time a climate model has been applied at such spatial and temporal detail over such a long period of time."
The researchers concluded, among other things, global warming could reduce the current U.S. wine grape region by 81 percent by the end of the century -- primarily because of a projected sharp increase in the frequency of extremely hot days. They also determined that by the end of the 21st century, warmer growing seasons and milder winters could increase the population and geographic range of the corn earworm, an insect that preys on corn, tomatoes and other cash crops.
"In the case of agricultural pests, many of their ranges are limited by severe cold temperatures," he said. "In our new simulations, we find that those temperatures could disappear over the next few decades, potentially leading to an expansion of pest pressure."
The findings were presented this week in San Francisco during a meeting of the American Geophysical Union.