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CLIMATE STUDY: Coming Changes Bad for Southern Plains, Maybe Good for Northern Plains

(NPN) — Digging into the Obama administration’s recently released National Climate Assessment for the Great Plains reveals both near-apocalyptic news for the Southern Plains—and some actual benefits to the Northern Plains.

The report notes that the coming years will continue the “trend toward more dry days and higher temperatures across the Southern Plains.” This is will have a number of ill effects, including decreased water supplies, reduced electrical transmission capacity and increased cooling demands, as the number 100 degree days per year increase in Oklahoma and Texas. Expect more droughts and desertification of marginal lands.

Meanwhile in the Northern Plains—particularly the Dakotas–projected increases in precipitation “will benefit productivity by increasing water availability through soil moisture reserves during the early growing season.” However, this benefit comes with the possibility of “fields too wet to plant.”

Climate change would also increase the length of the growing season in South and North Dakota, “possibly allowing a second annual crop in some places and some years.”

Warmer winters, however, could also bring more pests and weeds. Also, early emerging crops could be nipped by spring freezes.

The full report is available at http://nca2014.globalchange.gov.

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