Implications of a Changing Arctic on Water Resources and Agriculture in the Central U.S. November 10-12, 2015 University of Nebrasak-Lincoln

Workshop Focus

A workshop, Implications of a Changing Arctic on the Water Resources and Agriculture in the Central U.S., was held at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, November 10-12, 2015. The focus of this workshop was on how the significant climatic and environmental changes being observed in the Arctic may be affecting changes in mid-latitude weather and the implications of these changes on the frequency of extreme weather and climate events (e.g., severe weather, droughts, floods, heat waves) in the Central U.S. Given the importance of the region as a breadbasket of the world, the goal of the workshop was to explore how these changing weather patterns may affect agriculture, water resources and other sectors in the region. This workshop was timely in that it coincided with the U.S. assuming chairmanship of the Arctic Council in April 2015. This workshop provided an opportunity to identify possible adaptation and mitigation measures in response to these changes in severe weather patterns as well as to ascertain future research needs and discuss how management decisions and policy options may need to be altered in the region in response to a changing climate. The PowerPoint presentations of the plenary speakers are available now and the results of the discussions during breakout sessions, including recommendations and next steps, will be available in early 2016.

Final Report

Final Report Cover
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Public Lecture: Jennifer Francis, Rutgers University

Title: Crazy Weather and the Arctic Meltdown​: Are they connected?

(Francis PowerPoint and associated files)

Workshop Objectives

  • To build awareness of the importance of changes in the climate of the Arctic region on the United States.
  • To initiate an interdisciplinary dialogue within the science community and between scientists and practitioners on the implications of changes in Arctic climate on Great Plains and Midwestern agriculture and water resources as well for other regions of the U.S. (e.g., California and other western states).
  • To identify, evaluate and propose actions in support of regional adaptation and mitigation strategies to ongoing changes.
  • To identify research needs/gaps and policy options in response to changes in the frequency and severity of severe weather and extreme climate events.


Conference Puts Midwest Center Stage in Climate Change Discussion
NET Nebraska interview with conference organizer and Professor of Applied Climate Science, Dr. Don Wilhite.

Interview on Arctic Warming with Jennifer Francis
KFOR Radio interview with conference keynote speaker.

Workshop Sponsors

NOAA/National Integrated Drought Information System

USDA/Office of the Chief Economist

University of Nebraska:

  • Daugherty Water for Food Institute (DWFI)

University of Nebraska-Lincoln:

  • Institute of Agriculture and Natural Resources (IANR)
  • Agricultural Research Division, IANR
  • Office of Research and Economic Development (ORED)
  • National Drought Mitigation Center (NDMC)
  • High Plains Regional Climate Center (HPRCC)
  • School of Natural Resources (SNR)
  • Department of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences (EAS)


Implications of a Changing Arctic

An Arctic Connection to Extreme Weather in Mid-Latitudes: New Evidence, Mechanisms, Metrics, and Emerging Questions. 
Jennifer Francis, Research Professor, Department of Marine and Coastal Sciences, Rutgers University (Francis PowerPoint)

Implications of a Changing Arctic on Mid-Latitude Weather Patterns and Climate Extremes

Arctic Change and Possible Influence on Mid-latitude Weather Extremes
Judah Cohen, Principal Scientist, Climate Analysis Group, Atmospheric and Environmental Research
(Cohen PowerPoint)

Science of Arctic Change- Implications for Central U.S. Water and Agriculture
Marty Hoerling, Physical Sciences Division, NOAA/ESRL
(Hoerling PowerPoint 1)

Building Resilience to a Changing Water Regime: Implications for water resources in the Great Plains and Midwest regions

Implications of Extreme Climate Events for Water Management and Policy
Richard Palmer, Director of the DOI Northeast Climate Science Center, University of Massachusetts
(Palmer PowerPoint)

A Fresh Look at Central U.S. Extreme Precipitation Trends. 
Ken Kunkel, NOAA's National Centers for Environmental Information
(Kunkel PowerPoint)

Building Resilience to a Changing Climate Regime: Implications for agriculture in the Great Plains and Midwest regions

Healthy Soils as the Cornerstone of Climate Resilience for Agriculture. 
Jerry Hatfield, Research Plant Physiologist, National Laboratory for Agriculture and the Environment, USDA/ARS, Ames, Iowa
(Hatfield PowerPoint)

Using the Arctic Oscillation to Improve Agricultural Decisions
Guillermo Baigorria, Crop Simulation Modeler, UNL
(Baigorria PowerPoint)

Climate change, drought and agriculture

Trends in Climate Teleconnections and Effects on the Midwest
Donald Wuebbles, Professor of Atmospheric Science, University of Illinois and Assistant Director, Office of Science and Technology Policy and Zach Zobel, University of Illinois
(Wuebbles/Zobel PowerPoint)

Drought Fusion: A Union of Past and Present Drought Characteristics and their Impacts
Michael Hayes, Director,National Drought Mitigation Center and Mark Svoboda, Climatologist and Monitoring Program Leader, National Drought Mitigation Center, UNL.
(Hayes/Svoboda PowerPoint)

The Physics of Great Plains Drought, Its Predictability and Its Changed Risk in a Warming World. 
Marty Hoerling, NOAA/ESRL, Physical Sciences Division.
(Hoerling PowerPoint2)

Management Strategies Associated with a Changing Climate: A Local, Regional and Global Perspective (Stakeholder Panel)

  • Douglas Bereuter, Co-chairman, Chicago Council on Global Affairs' Global Agricultural Development Initiative; Member, State Department's International Security Board (Arctic Policy Study Committee)
  • John Berge, Manager, North Platte Natural Resources District
  • Martha Kauffman, Managing Director, Northern Great Plains Program, World Wildlife Fund
    (Kauffman PowerPoint)
  • John Hansen, President, Nebraska Farmers Union
    (Hansen PowerPoint)

Adapting to a Changing Regional Climate: Understanding and Communicating the Science to Practitioners/Identifying Adaptation and Mitigation Actions/Policy Implications

  • Linda Prokopy, Natural Resource Social Science, Purdue University (Prokopy PowerPoint)
  • Taryn Finnessey, Colorado Water Conservation Board (Finnessey Powerpoint)
  • Dennis Todey, South Dakota State Climatologist, South Dakota State University (Todey PowerPoint)
  • Tom Buman, AGREN

Food Security Implications of a Changing Arctic

As an addendum to the workshop, Implications of a Changing Arctic on Water Resources and Agriculture in the Central U.S., there will be an additional event organized by Atmospheric and Environmental Research, Inc. and the Daugherty Water for Food Institute immediately following the Arctic Workshop. This additional workshop will begin the afternoon of November 12 and continue through noon on November 13. The focus of this additional meeting will be Food Security Implications of a Changing Arctic. The Thursday afternoon session will be held at Nebraska Innovation Campus, the same location for the Arctic Workshop that will be held from November 10-12, 2015.

The focus of this additional meeting will be to bring together subject matter experts from the Department of Defense, the State Department, and academic institutions for discussions in two specific areas having direct relevance to national security:

  1. impacts of Arctic change on global agricultural production and food security and
  2. remote sensing of the Arctic as it relates to understanding climatological processes, precipitation and availability of water resources as well as the data requirements for numerical weather and climate prediction models.

Please see the attached document for more detailed information on this additional meeting, including a description of the sessions that are being organized in association with this event. To participate in this meeting, please contact Eric Hunt,


Can a burger build world peace? What conflict cuisines teach us about food and politics
Dr. Johanna Mendelson Forman, American University
(Forman PowerPoint)

Building a statistical model that provides skillful winter precipitation forecasts for the Mediterranean and the Middle East.
Dr. Judah Cohen, Atmospheric and Environmental Research, Inc.
(Cohen PowerPoint)

Weather, climate, and society: operational, research, and development concerns and capabilities of CRREL, ERDC, USACE, and Partners
Michael Shaw, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Cold Regions Research and Engineering Laboratory
(Shaw PowerPoint)

USACE, ERDC, and CRREL interests and capabilities relative to high latitude regions and beyond
John Eylander, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Cold Regions Research and Engineering Laboratory
(Eylander PowerPoint)

Remote Sensing/GIS, and Cold Regions Expertise: Data and Modeling Interests, Capabilities, and Products of USACE/ERDC/CRREL
Jeanne Roningen, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Cold Regions Research and Engineering Laboratory
(Roningen PowerPoint)

What can climate model ensembles tell us about the future of the Arctic?
Dr. Chris Little, Atmospheric and Environmental Research, Inc.
(Little PowerPoint)

The Strategic Significance of the Arctic: Geopolitical Concerns of Arctic Council Nations
Dr. Elizabeth Chalecki, Department of Political Science, University of Nebraska-Omaha
(Chalecki PowerPoint)