Impact Of Climate Change

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During the Great Flood of 1993, natural disaster rain and snow runoff raised the Missouri river to flood stage and devastated southeastern Nebraska. While climate models vary on the amount of temperature increase possible, potential risks include decreased water supplies; increased risk of wildfires; changes in food production, with agriculture improving in cooler climates and decreasing in warmer climates; change in rain pattern to downpours with the potential for flash flooding; health risks of certain infectious diseases from water contamination or disease-carrying vectors such as mosquitoes, ticks, and rodents; and heat-related illnesses.

Nebraska's substantial agricultural resources are sensitive to changes in climate. Increased heat could push temperatures above the tolerance level for crops like corn, causing a decline in yields. Strained water systems could pose a significant problem for state agriculture. Most run off in Nebraska comes from snowmelts in Colorado and Wyoming that could decline with higher temperatures. The state's substantial groundwater resources could also be impacted by reduced spring and summer recharge. Weather variability would also likely increase with in increase in crop-damaging droughts. Positive impacts could include increasing carbon sequestration for emissions credits. Also, Nebraska farmers could see an increase in demand for corn-based ethanol.

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