Climate Boundary Shifting East Due to Global Warming

April 14, 2018 08:00 AM
Agriculture on the Great Plains in the coming decades may be adversely affected by a shifting of the climate boundary due to global warming, says Richard Seager, a climate scientist at Columbia University.

Agriculture on the Great Plains in the coming decades may be adversely affected by a shifting of the climate boundary observed along the 100th meridian due to global warming. That’s the conclusion of new research published under lead author Richard Seager, a climate scientist at Columbia University.

The climate boundary that runs longitudinally along the 100th meridian through North America visibly separates the humid eastern part of the continent from the more arid western plains. Geologist and explorers observed the climate boundary nearly 150 years ago, and now Seager says that boundary may be shifting as much as 140 miles eastward.

In a statement, the researchers say the climate boundary is reflected by population and agriculture on opposite sides. Studying rainfall and temperature data since 1980, Seager and his colleagues found this climatic boundary has already shifted east about 140 miles so that it now sits closer to the 98th meridian. And it will continue to move east as warming global temperatures increase evaporation from the soil and change precipitation patterns.

The researchers believe the eastward movement of the climate boundary will almost certainly continue in the coming decades, expanding the arid climate of the western plains into what we call the Midwest. The implications for farming and other pursuits could be huge.

According to the press release by Columbia University’s Earth Institute, “Seager predicts that as drying progresses, farms further and further east will have to consolidate and become larger in order to remain viable. Unless farmers turn to irrigation or otherwise adapt, they will have to turn from corn to wheat or some other more suitable crop. Large expanses of cropland may fail altogether, and have to be converted to western-style grazing range. Water supplies could become a problem for urban areas.”

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Spell Check

Jonesboro , AR
4/15/2018 03:15 PM

  More global warming fear mongering. You can tell things are really getting bad for farmers by looking at the record crops we keep ripping off lol! Global warming is the biggest hoax perpetrated on the American citizen in modern history. By the way, as I sit here on April 15 here in Northeast Arkansas, the wind chill is 32 degrees lol! We are burning up!!

New York, NY
4/17/2018 01:06 PM

  Kenn, it's "global" climate change for a reason. Northeast Arkansas and Kentucky represent a vanishingly small fraction of the globe.

Craigville, IN
4/16/2018 07:04 AM

  Sing it, Rick!! The so-called global warming "scientists" are claiming that January, February, and March are shaping up to make 2018 the third warmest year in recorded history. Yeah, right. Apparently, the Russians have hacked our warm weather. If science had any, and I mean any, integrity left, they would prosecute these global warming snake-oil salesmen for fraud. Anybody remember the Dust Bowl? It was kind of dry back then too. But back then, we didn't have "scientists" to tell us that eastern Kentucky was going to be the leading edge of the new Great Desert by 1948.


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