Baking the Breadbasket: Persistent Drought in the Heartland
Videos, Mon, Sep 10th, 2012
From scorching July heat to well-below-average summer rainfall, NOAA’s Deke Arndt, Chief of the Climate Monitoring Branch at the National Climatic Data Center, recaps summer climate conditions across the United States.
Deke Arndt, Chief of the Climate Monitoring Branch, National Climatic Data Center.
Summer 2012 is on the books as the 3rd warmest summer for the contiguous United States, and it’s likely that 2012 will end up the warmest year on record for the country. For climatologists, these data allow us to see the big picture, but we know that for farmers, records like this often mean real hardship.
June was the third warmest of the 118 Junes for which we have data, and then the following month July was the warmest month of any month on record for the country. And while we got some relief during August from all of this record-breaking heat, overall summer temperatures were much above average during 2012.
Now notice on the summer temperature map how much of the central United States, “America’s Breadbasket”, had above normal temperatures. Now this is where most of the country’s corn and soybeans are grown each year. When temperatures are this high, the atmosphere draws more moisture from the ground, and that leaves crops with less water.
What makes things worse is in addition to this temperature effect, the crops received much below average precipitation– as you can see with the brown colors. The combination of high temperatures and very little rain followed an early and a very warm spring… And as a result, much of the country’s major agricultural regions have faced drought throughout the summer due to prolonged water deficits.
Now The U.S. Drought Monitor shows that since spring, farmers have faced persistent drought. And according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, about 80% of corn and soybeans in the U.S. are facing drought-related stress this year. As a result, production is way down, and in some areas entire crops have failed.
So what’s in store for autumn? NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center calls for drought to persist in the plains and into the mountains, but there is some hope of drought relief largely east of the Mississippi.
For Climate.gov, I’m Deke Arndt.Baking the Breadbasket: Persistent Drought in the Heartland,
Spring 2013 has brought something fairly unusual in recent years—colder-than-average temperature for the nation as a whole. NOAA’s Deke Arndt talks about how spring temperatures in three U.S. climate divisions compare to the local long-term trend.
During late winter, Texas, Oklahoma, and Kansas received sorely needed rain which helped reduce short-term impacts, like wildfire and dry topsoil. But it has taken months to develop deep and severe drought in the region, and a few wet weeks won’t erase that situation. It can take months of ideal conditions to bring soil, rivers, and vegetation back to health.
On any given day or any given month, somebody somewhere experiences colder-than-average temperature, even though the globe as a whole is warmer than average. We know this through climate monitoring, which entails measuring temperature on land and across the ocean.