Climate scientist Don Wilhite says average temperatures will continue rising in our region with a substantial increase in high-temperature stress days over 100 degrees.
While the average annual precipitation may not change much, Wilhite says severe storms and floods will become more common.
Wilhite says, “When you have high-intensity events, this means you’re going to get more runoff, less soil infiltration, so with the increasing temperatures, we’re looking at declines in the future in soil moisture content, which is obviously important to agriculture.”
While agriculture has been able to adapt to recent changes in climate, Wilhite says increased innovation will be needed to keep pace with the more drastic changes that are coming.
Wilhite says, “The sooner they adapt to the situation and incorporate these changes in their management strategies, the more effective they’re going to be.” Wilhite says there is no question that human activities are having a detrimental impact on our climate.
“People need to become better educated about this issue and stop denying it exists and start learning about these changes and what they should do individually and what we need to do as a country and as a state, and what we should expect out of our elected officials,” Wilhite says, “because a lot of our elected officials are essentially denying that this even occurs.”
Farmers, he says, need to prepare for more instances of severe weather in the years ahead, from drought to tornadoes to hail, heavy rain and floods.
Wilhite is a climate scientist at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.