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Regional Data and Research

Climate Data and Research in the Midwest

Historical data have been compiled on all of the major commodities in crop and livestock production since 1950 to evaluate the trends in production along with the variation. This has been completed at the state and county level. As an example of these changes is the annual variation in soybean production for Illinois and Indiana as shown the following diagram.  There are some differences in the impact of seasonal weather on soybean yields between these two adjacent states and research is being conducted to provide an explanation for these differences and potential adaptation practices which could be implemented by producers to offset these impacts.

Research at the Midwest Climate Hub

Information is being compiled on workable field days for each state in the period from April through June to determine how the trends are changing in the amount of time producers have to conduct their operations in the spring.  This information is critical to helping understand the constraints to potential adaptation practices and a foundation for the different tools being developed for producers.

One of the critical aspects of the Midwest is water management and efforts are underway to evaluate the effect of the trends on increasing spring precipitation on subsurface drainage amounts and the potential for water management in drained soils to increase the amount of water stored in the soil profile. This is coupled with the evaluation of soil management and conservation practices which can increase soil organic matter content to increase water holding capacity and protect the soil from erosion events.

In livestock, information is being compiled on the occurrence of extreme temperature and humidity events. These results and their effect on livestock production will be able to guide climate models to evaluate how much more frequently these events will occur in the future.

Midwest Climate Atlas

There are continued questions about the changes in climate across the Midwest and there is no consistent analysis among all of the states. Using statewide climate data since 1895, climate analysis was conducted to determine the changes that have been occurring over that the last century.  The data were daily values averaged across the state and the following analyses were conducted:

  1. Thirty-year normals of annual precipitation, annual average temperature, average maximum temperature, and average minimum temperature with 95% upper and lower confidence limits
  2. Midwest Annual Maximum Temperature, Annual Minimum Temperature, and Annual Precipitation.
  3. Midwest Seasonal Ratios Maximum Temperature, Seasonal Ratios Minimum Temperature, and Seasonal Ratios of Precipitation.
  4. Trends in spring (April-June) and  summer (July-September) precipitation relative to annual precipitation
  5. Trends in spring (April-June) and  summer (July-September) average temperature relative to annual average temperature 
  6. Trends in Maximum Temperature
  7. Trends in Minimum Temperature
  8. Midwest Trend in Precipitation
  9. Fraction of spring (April-June) precipitation and summer (July-September) precipitation relative to annual precipitation
  10. Comparison of spring (April-June) to Summer (July-September) precipitation and average temperature

These data were provided by the Midwest Regional Climate Center.  These same analyses are available for each crop reporting district in each state and are available upon request.

These data are presented as .PDFs, if you would like the powerpoint version of these files please contact Jerry L. Hatfield.

Research Needs

One of the critical needs to understand the impacts of weather and climate on agricultural is the change in soil erosion due to more intense rainfall events, the occurrence of insects and diseases, and the expansion of the range of insects and diseases across the Midwest.  These data are being collected and collaborative research with entomologist, plant pathologists, and meteorologists/climatologists will help to improve this understanding.

These questions have been raised by different stakeholders and represent a portion of the ongoing efforts at the Midwest Climate Hub. One of the goals the Midwest Climate Hub is to compile an inventory of the ongoing research with states and determine how this can be applied to the region.  An inventory of existing tools for each state is being compiled and evaluated.