Precipitation Changes in a Warmer World for Major Grain Growing Regions

Sunday, 16 February 2014
Regency D (Hyatt Regency Chicago)
Thomas R. Karl , NOAA, Asheville, NC
Precipitation changes in a warmer world for major grain growing regions

Precipitation is a primary driver for crops grown around the world.  What do we know about future seasonal precipitation amount in the major grain growing areas in a warmer world?  The literature on this can be confusing, as many meteorological factors control seasonal precipitation amount.  Often there are competing factors that lead to a wide-range of possible futures, even with substantial increases of temperature.  We review observed and projected trends of seasonal precipitation in several of the primary grain growing regions.  Although the confidence in future trends of the quantity of precipitation is relatively low, this is not true for precipitation intensity.  The intensity of precipitation is defined as the amount of precipitation that falls in a given time.  Event-driven precipitation intensity has been observed to increase, and there is considerably more confidence in future changes.  The impact that increased precipitation intensity has on food production is likely to occur through increased soil erosion and increased variability from year-to-year as the increase in intensity is best reflected in the extremes of precipitation.