2012 was the warmest year on record for the contiguous United States, and the second-warmest year on record in Indiana. Scientists from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration say the trend is likely to continue.
In 2012, Indiana’s average temperature was more than three degrees higher than average, making it the second hottest year since 1871, when record-keeping began. Most of the state was plagued by a summer drought that NOAA Climate Scientist Jake Crouch says will likely continue into next season.
“Locations where we do have drought, the drought will be worst,” he says. “We also expect an increase in temperatures, so that will cause a stress on humans and cattle, and warmer winters which we saw last winter and we are seeing this winter, has an issue with an early emergence of pests affecting crops.”
He says the warming trend his organization is researching shows no signs of letting up in the near future.
“The warm temperatures of 2012 and the long term warming trend are related to climate change, but there are also the local and regional factors at play,” he says. “So, it’s a combination of both climate change, and the natural variability of the climate system.”
Sara Pryor is a professor of Atmospheric Science at Indiana University. She says the warmer climate will likely put a greater strain on farmers next year.
“Given that our climate change projections are that the Midwest will become warmer and drier during the summer, we certainly have the expectation that crop yields will decrease,” she says.
Pryor is a committee member for the National Assessment on Climate Change, a federal study on how climate trends will affect public health, the economy, and the environment. The study is expected to release its findings for public comment at the end of the month.