It doesn’t sound like much, but Mark Shafer, a climatologist with the Oklahoma Climate Survey, says the changes are already noticeable. Warmer winters in the north have caused flooding, while heat in the south has dried out the soil.
Shafer: “When we get year after year that certain crops are having trouble producing or cattle have to be moved, those kind of things really stress the agriculture industry.”
Farmers in the Northern Plains may not be dealing with drought, but they are confronting warmer winters. In Montana, some have changed pest management practices.
Shafer: “The pests aren’t getting killed off by the cold weather the way they used to and they’re able to expand further northward.”
Shafer cautions that the region is going to face even greater extremes in the future, so he says the agriculture industry needs to consider how to adapt and what crops will grow best where.
Reporting credit: ChavoBart Digital Media.
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Great Plains Chapter, 2014 National Climate Assessment
Full Report, 2014 National Climate Assessment