Long-Term Trends in Air Temperature Distribution and Extremes, Growing Degree‐Days, and Spring and Fall Frosts for Climate Impact Assessments on Agricultural Practices in Nebraska

Kari E. Skaggs Department of Biological Systems Engineering, University of Nebraska—Lincoln, Lincoln, Nebraska

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Suat Irmak Department of Biological Systems Engineering, University of Nebraska—Lincoln, Lincoln, Nebraska

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Abstract

Air temperature influences agricultural practices and production outcomes, making detailed quantifications of temperature changes necessary for potential positive and negative effects on agricultural management practices to be exploited or mitigated. Temperature trends of long-term data for five agricultural locations, ranging from the subhumid eastern to the semiarid western parts of Nebraska, were studied to determine local temperature changes and their potential effects on agricultural practices. The study quantified trends in annual and monthly average maximum and minimum air temperature (Tmax and Tmin), daily temperature range (DTR), total growing degree-days, extreme temperatures, growing‐season dates and lengths, and temperature distributions for five heavily agricultural areas of Nebraska: Alliance, Central City, Culbertson, Fremont, and Hastings. July and August were the months with the greatest decreases in Tmax for the central part of Nebraska—Culbertson, Hastings, and Central City. Alliance, Culbertson, and Fremont had year-round decreases in DTR. Central City and Hastings experienced growing‐season decreases in DTR. Increases in growing‐season length occurred at rates of 14.3, 16.7, and 11.9 days century−1 for Alliance, Central City, and Fremont, respectively. At Hastings, moderately earlier last spring frost (LS) at a rate of 6.6 days century−1 was offset by an earlier (2.7 days century−1) first fall frost (FF), resulting in only a 3.8 days century−1 longer growing season. There were only slight changes in LS and FF dates of around 2 days earlier and 1 day later per century, respectively, for Culbertson.

Corresponding author address: Suat Irmak, University of Nebraska—Lincoln, 239 L. W. Chase Hall, Lincoln, NE 68583-0726. E-mail: sirmak2@unl.edu

Abstract

Air temperature influences agricultural practices and production outcomes, making detailed quantifications of temperature changes necessary for potential positive and negative effects on agricultural management practices to be exploited or mitigated. Temperature trends of long-term data for five agricultural locations, ranging from the subhumid eastern to the semiarid western parts of Nebraska, were studied to determine local temperature changes and their potential effects on agricultural practices. The study quantified trends in annual and monthly average maximum and minimum air temperature (Tmax and Tmin), daily temperature range (DTR), total growing degree-days, extreme temperatures, growing‐season dates and lengths, and temperature distributions for five heavily agricultural areas of Nebraska: Alliance, Central City, Culbertson, Fremont, and Hastings. July and August were the months with the greatest decreases in Tmax for the central part of Nebraska—Culbertson, Hastings, and Central City. Alliance, Culbertson, and Fremont had year-round decreases in DTR. Central City and Hastings experienced growing‐season decreases in DTR. Increases in growing‐season length occurred at rates of 14.3, 16.7, and 11.9 days century−1 for Alliance, Central City, and Fremont, respectively. At Hastings, moderately earlier last spring frost (LS) at a rate of 6.6 days century−1 was offset by an earlier (2.7 days century−1) first fall frost (FF), resulting in only a 3.8 days century−1 longer growing season. There were only slight changes in LS and FF dates of around 2 days earlier and 1 day later per century, respectively, for Culbertson.

Corresponding author address: Suat Irmak, University of Nebraska—Lincoln, 239 L. W. Chase Hall, Lincoln, NE 68583-0726. E-mail: sirmak2@unl.edu
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