Scientist: Trends suggest 2019 weather could be the new normal

2
472
a wet crop field
Based on the trends scientists are observing, wet fields like this one could continue to be a common sight in the future. (Farm and Dairy file pic)

LONDON, Ohio — Few farmers will say they have not been affected by the weather this year.

Ohio State atmospheric scientist Aaron Wilson wrapped up a Sept. 17 Farm Science Review talk on climate and weather, with a provocative question: “What if I told you this is our new normal?”

Rain

With very wet conditions in the spring this year, many farmers planted late or were unable to plant. In parts of southwestern Ohio, temperatures went from very wet to very dry over the summer. Now, heading into fall, it’s starting to get wetter again.

Wilson said the trend didn’t just start this spring. Fall 2018 was the third wettest on record since 1895, with 20-25 inches of rainfall in some areas. Some farmers had to wait until the ground froze to harvest because of the saturation.

Wilson said the current trends of more rain in the spring and less in the summer fit in with the long-term trends he and other scientists predict.

“This is already happening,” Wilson said. “Climate isn’t a future problem; it’s here.”

Over the last 130 years, five of the top 10 wettest years have occurred since 2003. Wilson said spring precipitation has gone up by 3-11% since 1970. Farmers have lost 10 suitable fieldwork days since 1995, five of them in April and five in October.

Temperatures

Temperatures have also changed, Wilson said. Globally, 2018 was the fourth warmest year since 1880, with nine out of the top 10 globally warmest years occurring since 2005.

2018 had the ninth coldest April on record and the warmest May on record. Wilson said averaging these two months would show that temperatures were normal in spring 2018, but the extreme differences in temperature from month to month are not normal.

“That’s an average spring, but that’s not a normal spring,” Wilson said.

While temperatures in 2019 so far have been colder than average in the United States, Wilson said this is the second warmest year on record globally.

“What’s happening here in the U.S. doesn’t describe what’s happening across the entire surface of the earth at any one time,” Wilson explained.

Wilson said over the last 100 years, temperatures have gone up for much of the United States, with an approximate 1-2 degree increase in Ohio.

“It’s nothing on a weather scale, but it’s huge on a climate scale,” Wilson said. “It’s much more land surface covered by warmer temperatures.”

Impacts

The changing temperatures are causing growing zones to shift, Wilson said. The rain also increases the risk of flooding in Ohio.

By the mid-21st century, scientists expect temperatures to increase by 4-5 degrees on average, with most of the change coming during the winter months and at night. They also expect precipitation to increase by 3-5 inches on average.

The changing climate has also shifted the freeze date back by five to seven days, Wilson said.

Immediate future

Wilson thinks we will not see an early freeze in September this year. While there may be some risk in the first week of October, he said 50% of the time in northwest Ohio, the first freeze happens by Oct. 10, though it can be a little later in other areas.

For 2019 heading into 2020, Wilson said November through January may be cooler than average, but have closer to average precipitation, based on what has happened in past years with similar springs, summers and falls.

Long-term

If this is the new normal, Wilson said people in Ohio should start thinking about how to adjust. He suggested that cover crops, drainage structures and tillage practices could help mitigate flood risks. He also noted soil and water health will become bigger issues with the increased rain.

By the end of the century, Wilson said Ohio’s climate could look more like Virginia in the winter and Arkansas in the summer. It has already shifted to be similar to south-central Indiana, and could look like southern Missouri by the mid-21st century.

“They don’t farm exactly like we do in Ohio,” Wilson said. “There are things that we can learn and build resilience through.”

STAY INFORMED. SIGN UP!

Up-to-date agriculture news in your inbox!

2 COMMENTS

  1. Farmers can adapt to whatever God puts in their path and that is the God of Abraham, Issac, and Jacob. What this article does not tell you is frightening, but science has an agenda as most of you know full well. Well over 20 years have passed since they took ice sample cores and they drilled down an equivalent of 100,000 years in our past. They sized each core to about 10 feet for easier handling and placed these thousands of samples in a multi-million dollar freezer, and in actuality a building built specifically for that purpose.
    Science was going to show us what we are seeing in weather was so unique, that it had never happened before. Ninety thousand feet have gone untouched and why?
    Science found out that mother earth has experienced such weather, and 10,000 feet of impacted snow fall is all they needed.
    THE CRIME
    Science thought we would be better off not knowing the truth, as it would not fit their” Chicken Little, The sky is Falling agenda”
    I turned on my tv yesterday and I am being yelled at by a 12 year old spoiled brat named Greta. The Left had given her a soapbox and in her Nordic twang, she chews my 67 year old bum out for not taking care of the planet, and in fact, she said, “How dare you?”
    She of course left out facts which are another word for for the Gods Truth, but again the Left has no time for Him, as only despicables believe in Him.
    She also left out her parents in Sweden that would not have been around, if it were not for the American farmer feeding their entire country!
    Our planet is a privileged one created before time was even a factor and in fact, He created” Time”
    I wonder why Greta did not sail to the sources of the most pollution on earth? Well, we all know China would have shot her out of their waters, and it seems that they think they own the waters of Coney Island with their mindset today.
    OK Folks, back to the weather again. Our planet is a living, breathing orb that tries to equalize pressure and temperature. It is not perfect in doing so, and especially so this past 40 years.
    The USA for all intents and purposes is much less polluting than China, and by a factor of 5000!
    We do have a flaw and it is as dangerous as the weather, and that is plastic, and its production. Farmers too are some of the bad actors in no-till farming has already wiped out entire ecosystems through the use of herbicides and to a lesser degree pesticides. I believe the common American if it were properly explained, would pay more for food to get back to turning over the soil, and I have been talking to the wind over this for 20 years.
    The weather is the weather and the changes we have seen could be caused by Chinas carbon emissions and they are the villains if it is carbon that is causing all this rain.
    We must as a country set an example and rid ourselves of plastic, and no till farming as I don’t know a farm family that has not been touched by cancers I have never heard of.
    As a despicable, I am a Bible based man that has served my country and raised children and grandchildren that will not rob a bank.
    I am an imperfect man and you can tell this from my grammar alone, but I observe the world around very well, and go on YouTube to get true news, as the Cronkites and Brinkleys are gone.
    I really do not know if I have stitched these words together to where someone might understand what I am trying to relay, but being an immigrant from Scotland, I understand the uniqueness of this land and its people.
    I only knew rain as a child up until nine, but we did ok on potatoes, cabbage, carrots, Brussel sprouts, and mutton. I had our milk delivered every morning by a horse and a man, as well as our coal.
    I wanted for nothing and believe Americans could do with much less. We approach 2020 and this country cannot let socialism sneak in the back door, as my daddy came to America so we did not have to tolerate it.
    We never struck it rich in a monetary sense, but did with the richness of our inhabitants of this great land, and we must gel as a people. We should vote on going to Mars and the Moon, and spend the trillions on the kids trapped in the ghettos of each major cities and the hundred babies that have died of diarrhea as I pecked this comment out.
    Our weather is insignificant when you have kids dehydrating to death.
    This country needs to move towards God, as we put Mars and weather before all the suffering, and then God will use this country as it is written in the Bible.
    God is in control but you knew that.

LEAVE A REPLY

We are glad you have chosen to leave a comment. Please keep in mind that comments are moderated according to our comment policy.

Receive emails as this discussion progresses.