Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Climate change's future impact uncertain on Midwest water cycle, Dartmouth-led study finds

19.05.2015

Will climate change make the U.S. Midwest drier or wetter during the summer growing season? A new Dartmouth-led study finds that the answer remains uncertain.


A Dartmouth College-led study finds that it remains uncertain whether climate change will make the US Midwest drier or wetter during the summer growing season for corn and other crops.

Credit: Andreas Krappweis

The findings are important given the Midwest's agricultural output is critical to the U.S. economy and global food security.

The study appears in the journal Water Resources Research. A PDF is available on request. The study included researchers from Dartmouth College, Columbia University, National University of Singapore and Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

A potential consequence of climate change is significant modification of the water cycle in farming areas, such as the Midwest. Multiple studies have investigated the response of surface air temperature and precipitation to climate change across the Midwest and United States, but few studies have examined the response of soil moisture and still fewer have assessed soil moisture using a combination of model simulations and regional observations. Soil moisture is a key indicator of the water cycle, reflecting dynamics of precipitation, evaporation, plant transpiration and runoff.

The Dartmouth-led team ran multiple regional climate model experiments to project summertime changes in the water cycle over a representative area of the Midwest. Some of their experiments predict drier soil conditions over the Midwest, while others predict wetter soil conditions, with the response strongly dependent on the choice of global climate model used to provide input to the regional climate model.

To resolve the contradictory predictions, the researchers also assessed an extensive and unique observational dataset of the water budget in Illinois. Their results show no statistically significant trends in soil moisture, precipitation, streamflow, groundwater level or surface air temperature over a recent 26-year period. Model simulations unanimously project increased temperatures in the Midwest, but the observed trend has been insignificant so far in contrast to climate trends across the world, where most places have already warmed significantly.

"Based on our analysis of model simulations and regional observations, we conclude that climate change impacts on the water cycle of the Midwestern United States remain uncertain," says lead author Jonathan Winter, an assistant professor of geography at Dartmouth, whose research explores climate prediction and the impacts of climate variability and change on water resources and agriculture.

"Our findings also suggest that while increases in surface air temperatures have been insignificant so far, adaptation to projected increases in temperature should be given priority as the signal is robust and could have large impacts on crop yields. Our findings highlight the need for expanded observations of soil moisture and improved simulations of soil moisture by climate models."

###

Dartmouth Assistant Professor Jonathan Winter is available to comment at Jonathan.M.Winter@dartmouth.edu.

Broadcast studios: Dartmouth has TV and radio studios available for interviews. For more information, visit: http://www.dartmouth.edu/~opa/radio-tv-studios/

Media Contact

John Cramer
john.cramer@dartmouth.edu
603-646-9130

 @dartmouth

http://www.dartmouth.edu 

John Cramer | EurekAlert!

More articles from Studies and Analyses:

nachricht AI study of risk factors in type 1 diabetes
06.03.2019 | University of Gothenburg

nachricht Rising CO2 has unforeseen strong impact on Arctic plant productivity
21.02.2019 | Max-Planck-Institut für Meteorologie

All articles from Studies and Analyses >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Revealing the secret of the vacuum for the first time

New research group at the University of Jena combines theory and experiment to demonstrate for the first time certain physical processes in a quantum vacuum

For most people, a vacuum is an empty space. Quantum physics, on the other hand, assumes that even in this lowest-energy state, particles and antiparticles...

Im Focus: Sussex scientists one step closer to a clock that could replace GPS and Galileo

Physicists in the EPic Lab at University of Sussex make crucial development in global race to develop a portable atomic clock

Scientists in the Emergent Photonics Lab (EPic Lab) at the University of Sussex have made a breakthrough to a crucial element of an atomic clock - devices...

Im Focus: Sensing shakes

A new way to sense earthquakes could help improve early warning systems

Every year earthquakes worldwide claim hundreds or even thousands of lives. Forewarning allows people to head for safety and a matter of seconds could spell...

Im Focus: A thermo-sensor for magnetic bits

New concept for energy-efficient data processing technology

Scientists of the Department of Physics at the University of Hamburg, Germany, detected the magnetic states of atoms on a surface using only heat. The...

Im Focus: The moiré patterns of three layers change the electronic properties of graphene

Combining an atomically thin graphene and a boron nitride layer at a slightly rotated angle changes their electrical properties. Physicists at the University of Basel have now shown for the first time the combination with a third layer can result in new material properties also in a three-layer sandwich of carbon and boron nitride. This significantly increases the number of potential synthetic materials, report the researchers in the scientific journal Nano Letters.

Last year, researchers in the US caused a big stir when they showed that rotating two stacked graphene layers by a “magical” angle of 1.1 degrees turns...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

International Modelica Conference with 330 visitors from 21 countries at OTH Regensburg

11.03.2019 | Event News

Selection Completed: 580 Young Scientists from 88 Countries at the Lindau Nobel Laureate Meeting

01.03.2019 | Event News

LightMAT 2019 – 3rd International Conference on Light Materials – Science and Technology

28.02.2019 | Event News

 
Latest News

How heavy elements come about in the universe

18.03.2019 | Physics and Astronomy

Robot arms with the flexibility of an elephant’s trunk

18.03.2019 | Power and Electrical Engineering

Microbes can grow on nitric oxide (NO)

18.03.2019 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>