Drought in the Southwest has damaged crops year after year and depleted soil of moisture and nutrients.
Summer drought revives talk about climate change
By Jeanne Bernick and Fran Howard
The multi-year drought that has plagued parts of the Corn Belt is nowhere as severe as the Dust Bowl, but consistent drought conditions could lead to more yield problems in future years.
"The drought began in Texas, New Mexico and Oklahoma in 2010," says Brian Fuchs, climatologist with the National Drought Mitigation Center in Lincoln, Neb.
This year, the drought has spread as far north as Minnesota’s northern forests. Regional Climatologist Mike Timlin of the Midwestern Regional Climate Center explains that we had a stretch of relatively benign weather in the latter part of the 1900s. "We are coming out of that pattern and shifting to one with more variability," Timlin says.
Is this climate change? What we are seeing with year-over-year warmer temperatures is just the beginning, says David Wolfe, Cornell University horticulture professor who studies the impact of climate change on plants, soils and ecosystems.
Wolfe, one of 26 authors of the "ClimAID" report prepared for the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority, believes there is broad scientific consensus that global warming is causing more extremely hot days.
The report assessed the impacts of climate change in the state and recommended ways to adapt to those changes. For example, scientists found that by the 2080s, milk production in the state will decline because heat stress is expected to increase six-fold. That means New York would go from a dairy leader to a dairy deficit state if actions are not taken to manage climate change, Wolfe explains.
Action Needed. "The question isn’t whether climate change is happening; it’s how agriculture is going to change and adapt," Wolfe says.
Cornell has started a center to help farmers adapt their operations to climate change called the Cornell Institute for Climate Change and Agriculture. The institute will serve as a clearinghouse for research, climate monitoring, decision support tools and applications at the intersection of climate and ag.
The vulnerability of agriculture to climate change is strongly dependent on the responses taken by humans to moderate the effects of climate change, adds Wolfe.
Oceans, Not CO2, Drive Weather Change
Meteorologist Joe Bastardi has a critical view of the current discussions on climate change. Speaking on "AgriTalk," he says the oceans, not carbon dioxide, are driving the current wild weather, and a look back to the 1950s provides the proof.
Listen in as meteorologist Joe Bastardi discusses his weather theory at www.TopProducer-Online.com/Joe_Bastardi.
- October 2013