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Report: Global warming will hit Midwest farming communities the hardest

A newly published report holds some disturbing news for farming communities across the Midwest and Northeast of the U.S.: Climate change is here and it will bring some serious changes.

According to the 1,100-plus-page National Climate Assessment — published by researchers at the University of Michigan — in the coming decades, climate change will likely lead to drastic changes in the Midwest climate. According to researchers, the region will face an increase in the number of rainstorms and floods, while existing risks to the Great Lakes will be exacerbated by an increase in the number of intense heatwaves.

The report, authored by University of Michigan aquatic ecologist Donald Scavia, represents one of the most comprehensive studies of how climate change will impact the region, to date. Scavia served as the lead convening author of the Midwest chapter, while Dan Brown of the University of Michigan School of Natural Resources and Environment served as the lead convening author of the chapter on changes in land use and land cover, according to a statement released by the university.

Among the most disturbing findings: the rate of warming in the Midwest has accelerated over the past few decades. Between 1900 and 2010, the average Midwest air temperature increased by more than 1 degree Fahrenheit, according to researchers. However, between 1950 and 2010, the average temperature increased twice as quickly, and between 1980 and 2010 it increased three times as quickly — making it one of the fastest warming regions in the U.S.

The findings are likely to capture attention following a series of storms that swept across the region during 2012. Researchers say the findings should serve as canary in the coalmine, as they note that climate change is already affecting Americans, that many of its impacts are expected to intensify in coming decades. University researchers said the latest report is the latest bit of evidence supporting the theory that the changes are primarily driven by human activity and that action to curb greenhouse emissions should be pursued.

The report comes as the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association (NOAA) released its annual National Climate Assessment Report. Agency officials released the report, which examines the potential financial and societal impacts of global warming.

The NOAA report noted that changes related to climate change and global warming are unlikely to remain confined to the Midwest. Researchers say the Northeast will likely experience similar drastic changes, including an increase in sea levels by upwards of four feet. A 1.5-foot-rise exposes $6 trillion worth of real estate between Baltimore and Boston to flooding, according to the report. Among the region’s most vulnerable

There was a small silver lining to the report’s findings. According to researchers, some 180,000 farms across twelve Northeast states might enjoy a longer growing season, possibly making up for losses in the Midwest region.

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