Leader of Indiana’s Environmental Resilience Institute says implications for Midwest are ‘unmistakable’
BLOOMINGTON – Ellen Ketterson, Distinguished Professor of Biology and Director of Indiana University’s Environmental Resilience Institute, released the following statement today regarding Volume II of the Fourth National Climate Assessment (NCA). The latest volume of the NCA was released Friday.
"The implications for the Midwest are unmistakable,” she said of the report. “We will continue to see more rain in the spring and even hotter, dryer conditions in the heart of the summer. Farmers will have an even shorter planting season. And they'll be increasingly at the mercy of summer heat, wondering whether their crops will produce.
“The result? Yields on our corn and soybeans, two of our state’s most profitable crops, will revert to yield levels not seen for more than 30 years. And even then, the margin for error will be painfully narrow.
“Our only path forward is to prepare for this eventuality, double down on developing new practices and acknowledge that in some parts of our state the bumper crops of old may no longer be viable.
That’s exactly why what we’re doing at ERI is critical. There’s no longer a question of whether we face a challenging future, the question is whether we’re up to the challenge of adapting.”
The 1600-page report is available here. Chapters regarding the impact of environmental change to the Midwest and on agriculture include, among many others, those detailed below.
- Key Finding #1: Summer temperatures are projected to increase more in the Midwest than in any other region of the United States—by an average of more than four degrees by 2050.
- Key Finding #2: By mid-century, 5-day maximum temperatures are projected to noticeably exceed optimal conditions for many crops, approaching temperatures that may cause reproductive failure in many crops, particularly for corn.
- Key Finding #3: By the end of the century, Midwestern cities like Chicago may see nearly 60 days per year with temperatures that reach 100 degrees or more—a scenario more typical of present day Las Vegas.
- Key Finding #4: Projections show declines of up to 25% in yields for commodity crops, including corn and soybeans (in the southern half of the Midwest.)
- Key Finding #5: Heat stress to corn, particularly during its reproductive period, will continue to reduce yields in the second half of the 21st Century.