New analysis shows America’s heartland heating up 10+ degrees
Fri, Aug 28 2009 at 11:43 AM
By The Nature Conservancy
America’s heartland will suffer the greatest jump in temperatures from climate change over the next century – with some states potentially heating up more than 10 degrees Fahrenheit – threatening the nation’s agriculture industry and food security, according to a new analysis by The Nature Conservancy.
The scientific analysis, which looked at likely temperature changes across the United States over the next 100 years, found that Kansas, Nebraska and Iowa would heat up the most if emissions continue to rise unchecked.
Next were South Dakota, Oklahoma, Missouri and Illinois, all of which would experience more than a 9.5 degree F increase in their average annual temperatures.
“To many, climate change doesn’t seem real until it affects them, or their backyards. From the food we put on the table to the animals that make our country unique, this study shows that none of us is immune if temperatures continue to rise as projected,” said Jonathan Hoekstra, Director of Climate Change for The Nature Conservancy. “In many states across the country, the weather and landscapes could be nearly unrecognizable in 100 years.”
Among the impacts Americans could see over the next 100 years:
• America’s $200 billion agriculture industry could face serious threats as higher temperatures dry out soil and shift production patterns. Weeds that wreak havoc on crops also become more difficult to combat as carbon dioxide levels rise in the atmosphere.
• The dairy industry could suffer serious declines, since dairy cow productivity starts decreasing above 77°F.
• Many states could lose their official birds as they move out of state in search of cooler climates — including the Baltimore oriole of Maryland, black-capped chickadee of Massachusetts, and the American goldfinch of Iowa.
• Even under the lowest emission scenario – which assumes strong actions successfully lower global emission rates over the next century – nearly every state in the US is projected to experience temperature increases well above the 3.6 degrees F (2 degrees C) threshold many scientists say will cause irreversible impacts to the Earth’s lands, waters, wildlife and human communities.
The state-by-state temperature projections are part of a new tool called ClimateWizard that, for the first time ever, allows people to use an interactive map to explore past and projected climate change data on their computers. With ClimateWizard, users can zoom in on any state or country to quickly see how temperatures and precipitation may change by month, season or year under different emission scenarios.
ClimateWizard provides policy makers, land managers and the general public simple analyses and graphical depictions to understand how climate has, and is projected, to change where they live.
ClimateWizard was developed by The Nature Conservancy, the University of Washington and the University of Southern Mississippi and maps historic and projected climate data from some of the top regional and global climate data and modeling centers.
MNN is working with The Nature Conservancy to bring you state-by-state environmental information.