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2023 Winter Newsletter

                                                 Southern Plains Climate Hub Newsletter - Winter 2023

USDAVarious pictures of tractors, planting, cows, diverse people, blue sky

               Climate change in the United States: Latest Assessment

(top left) Changes in multiple aspects of climate are apparent in every US region. The five maps present observed changes for five temperature, precipitation, and sea level rise metrics: 1) warming is apparent in every region (based on changes in annual average temperature in 2002–2021 compared to the 1901–1960 average for the contiguous United States, Hawaiʻi, and Puerto Rico and to 1925–1960 for Alaska); 2) the number of warm nights per year (days with minimum temperatures at or above 70°F in 2002–2021 compared to 1901–1960) is increasing everywhere except the Northern Great Plains, where they have decreased, and in Alaska, where nights above 70°F are not common; 3) average annual precipitation is increasing in most regions, except in the Northwest, Southwest, and Hawai‘i, where precipitation has decreased (same time periods as annual average temperature); 4) heavy precipitation events are increasing everywhere except Hawai‘i and the US Caribbean, where there has been a decrease (trends over the period 1958–2021); and 5) relative sea levels are increasing along much of the US coast except in Oregon, Washington, and Alaska, where there is a mix of both increases and decreases (trends over 1990–2020). {2.2, 9.1; Figures 2.4, 2.5, 2.7, 2.8}  (top center) Every fraction of a degree of additional warming will lead to increasing risks across multiple sectors in the US (see Table 1.2 and “Current and Future Climate Risks to the United States” below). Without rapid, substantial reductions in the greenhouse gases that cause global warming, these climate risks in the US are expected to increase.  (top right) People born in North America in 2020, on average, will be exposed to more climate-related hazards compared to people born in 1965. How many more extreme climate events current generations experience compared to previous generations will depend on the level of future warming. {Figure 15.4}  (bottom left) This climate stripes chart shows the observed changes in US annual average surface temperature for 1951–2022 and projected changes in temperature for 2023–2095 for five climate scenarios, ranging from a very high scenario, where greenhouse gas emissions continue to increase through most of the century, to a very low scenario, where emissions decline rapidly, reaching net zero by around midcentury (see Figure 1.4 and Table 3 in the Guide to the Report). Each vertical stripe represents the observed or projected change in temperature for a given year compared to the 1951–1980 average; changes are averaged over all 50 states and Puerto Rico but do not include data for the US-Affiliated Pacific Islands and the US Virgin Islands (see also Figure 1.13).  (bottom right) Although climate benefits from even the most aggressive emissions cuts may not be detectable before the middle of the century, there are many other potential near-term benefits and opportunities from actions that reduce greenhouse gas emissions. {2.3, 8.3, 10.3, 13.3, 14.5, 15.3, 19.1, 31.3, 32.4}  Figure credits: (top left, top center, top right, bottom right) USGCRP, USGCRP/ICF, NOAA NCEI, and CISESS NC; (bottom left) adapted from panel (c) of Figure SPM.1 in IPCC 2023.

On November 14, 2023, the U.S. Global Change Research Program released the Fifth National Climate Assessment (NCA5). The report consists of 32 chapters and the NCA Atlas, an interactive tool that allows users to explore localized climate projections. The NCA5 chapters cover climate physical science, national topics, ten regional reports, and responses to current and future climate trends. The report also includes a number of useful glossaries.  

NCA5 Audiobook & Podcast  

Chapter 11 (Agriculture, Food Systems and Rural Communities) and Chapter 26 (Southern Plains Region) contain information that is highly relevant to the Southern Great Plains region.



USDA releThe USDA Plant Hardiness Zone Map is the standard by which gardeners and growers can determine which perennial plants are most likely to thrive at a location. The map is based on the average annual extreme minimum winter temperature, displayed as 10-degree F zones and 5-degree F half zones. ases an updated Plant Hardiness Zone Map (PHZM)

On November 15, USDA released a new version of its PHZM jointly developed by USDA’s Ag Research Service and Oregon State University. Like the earlier 2012 version of the PHZM, the 2023 web version offers a Geographic Information System (GIS)-based interactive format and is specifically designed to be user-friendly. The 2023 map incorporates data from 13,412 weather stations compared to the 7,983 that were used for the 2012 map.

An interactive PHZM map can be accessed at:

Plant Hardiness Zone boundaries in the US are expected to migrate north with future shifts in climate as predicted under SSP 5-8.5 modeling scenarios (see Chapter 11 NCA5 link above for more details).


Drought Assessment in a Changing Climate report cover. Assessing drought in a changing climate: A technical workshop report

Current methods for assessing drought conditions do not consistently and deliberately consider drought in the context of climate change. What research is needed to produce drought indicators that account for climate change? And what resources are available to support their development and integration into the current suite of indicators?

These and other questions were addressed during a technical workshop held in Boulder, Colorado, on Feb. 28 – March 1, 2023, that gathered scientists and practitioners from federal, tribal, state, and local agencies as well as academic institutions. The workshop report was recently published and can be accessed at:




                                                                   Opportunities for Involvement

Man conducting a prescribed fire in top half. Bottom half is a group of sheep in a green pasture.Climate-Smart Practices for Sustaining Great Plains Rangelands

This project is an integrated extension and education effort designed to promote adoption and public understanding of climate smart practices, such as pyric-herbivory and multi-species grazing, for increasing resilience to climate change and sustaining the Great Plains rangelands.We are recruiting two cohorts of educators and natural resource professionals as agents of change. The objective of the agents of change is to increase climate awareness and to promote adoption and public support of climate-smart agricultural practices in the Great Plains rangelands. Participants will develop, implement, and disseminate high-impact education and outreach resources and programming. Applications will be accepted until January 22, 2024. To learn more please visit:




A picture containing an outline of the us map and an outline of two people shaking hands.Climate Analogs Academy

 This project uses climate analogs – locations whose current climate is similar to a target location’s future climate – as a convening tool to facilitate dialog amongst current and future Extension professionals from paired locations across Climate Hub regions regarding concrete, actionable information for specialty crop climate adaptation. 

The Climate Analogs Academy aims to empower US Extension professionals to lead regional climate change adaptation in specialty crops. To learn more about learning opportunities through this project please visit:



                                                                                 Upcoming Events

Sun filled blue sky over an open prairie grass.Using Climate Data to Achieve Your Natural Resource Objectives

Thursday, February 8, 2024:  8 am - 12 pm, 

Hilton Garden Inn & Manhattan Conference Center, 410 South 3rd Street, Manhattan, Kansas, 66502

The North Central Climate Adaptation Science Center and the USDA Southern Plains Climate Hub will provide an introduction to climate data tools and training on their application to inform resource management at the Kansas Natural Resources Conference. 

Registration Information: This workshop is limited to 30 participants; pre-registration is required. Registration fee for the workshop is $20. Scholarships are available as needed to help cover the cost of travel and the workshop registration fee; please contact

A blue river snaking through green forested land.2024 Kansas Natural Resources Conference

February 8-9, 2024, Manhattan Conference Center, 410 South 3rd Street, Manhattan, Kansas, 66502  

Registration is now open for the 17th Annual Kansas Natural Resources Conference. Please visit the conference web site for registration details and conference agenda.



South central climate resilience forum logo showing a tree with leaves, blacked out city scape, over blue water.

The South Central Climate Resilience Forum (SCCRF) will be an in-person 3-day event focused on fostering meaningful dialogue and action on equitable climate resilience and adaptation across the region.  The program will include presentations and sessions on resources, research, tools, knowledge, and experiences related to climate resilience. The Forum will be held in person in order for communities, practitioners, and researchers to form deeper connections and learn from each other.

To learn more visit

Early bird SCCRF Registration Page is open now!



International Invasive Species and Climate Change Conference flyer. Top left green forested mountain, top middle a hurricane over the ocean, top right a wildfire with firefighters.Please join us for the INAUGURAL International Invasive Species and Climate Change Conference (IISCCC) on January 30 and 31, 2024.  Registration is free but please sign up as soon as possible as we expect very large attendance:

International Invasive Species and Climate Change Conference

This conference is VIRTUAL allowing for more international attendance while reducing our carbon footprint. Because biological invasions and climate change are global issues that know no boundaries, the IISCCC strives to create space to share research and management practices, expand networks, and promote translational experiences.