LINCOLN — Nebraska and many parts of the Great Plains can expect more hot days and increased demands for water and energy as a result of ongoing climate change and rising temperatures, according to an environmental ecologist and climatologist.
Shannon McNeeley of the North Central Climate Science Center at Colorado State University in Fort Collins, said that rising temperatures in the Great Plains will continue to stress natural resources and increase competition for water among communities, agriculture, energy production and ecological needs.
“Nebraska, under current climate change scenarios, will likely be using more water for irrigation of crops and using more energy for production of biofuels,” McNeeley said.
If carbon emissions remain at current levels, she said, it also is likely that in coming years, the state could experience as many as 25 to 30 more days per year of temperatures over 90 degrees.
Along with more hot days, Nebraska could see its percentage of crop acres under irrigation increase dramatically as producers begin to feel the effects of changes in crop growth cycles because of warming winters and changes in the timing and amount of rainfall.
“These trends are already being observed and as they continue, they will require new agriculture and livestock management practices to help mitigate their effects,” McNeeley said.
She also said that communities already vulnerable to weather and climate extremes will be “stressed even further by more frequent extreme events occurring within an already highly variable climate system.”