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Updated 11 October, 2003

US National Assessment of the Potential Consequences
of Climate Variability and Change
Region: Central Great Plains



For additional information, see the Great Plains Mega- Region

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Related Articles from the National Assessment's Newsletter, Acclimations.


A workshop was organized by Colorado State University and University of Nebraska/NIGEC, May 27-29, 1997 as part of the series of US Global Change Research Program (USGCRP) regional climate change workshops. This series of workshops is seen as a first step in a U.S. national assessment of the potential consequences of climate variability and change. In the Central Great Plains Region (i.e. the Colorado, Kansas, Nebraska and Wyoming area), the potential impact of climate changes is expected to affect winter snowfall, growing season rainfall amounts and intensities, minimum winter temperatures, and summer average temperatures.

The combined effects of these changes in weather patterns and average seasonal climate will affect numerous sectors critical to the economic, social and ecological welfare of this region. In order to better understand the scope of climate change issues and the potential economic and political implications of these climate impacts to the Central Great Plains, critical stakeholders in the region and the scientific community were invited to highlight the regional concerns and the state of knowledge.

Issues for Analysis

The assessment is considering a limited number of key sectors that are critical in the Central Great Plains region. Five major areas are included in the regional assessment: Water; Agricultural Modeling; Agricultural Land Use / Adaptation; Ranching and Rangeland Production Systems; and Conservation Areas. The focus is on addressing environmental and socio-economic impacts due to climate changes, recognizing that some of the current stresses in the region are complicating factors.

Strategy for the Assessment

The implementation strategy for the Central Great Plains includes: a) Formation of a steering committee comprised of various stakeholder groups, including farmers, ranchers, conservationists, private industry representatives, academics, and representatives of land management agencies; b) Identifying critical information needed in the assessment; c) Evaluating ecosystem and agronomic responses, using available modeling tools, to changes in climate based on scenarios or selected analog studies for the region. The focus will be on critical resource properties of interest to stakeholders; and d) Assessment by stakeholders of the projected impacts of climate change to evaluate potential vulnerabilities and benefits.

The quantitative analysis of climate change impacts includes the Great Basin region, northern and southern Great Plains, and the central Great Plains (western mega-region). The assessment activities involve a Regional Assessment Synthesis Team comprised of a small number of technical experts selected from the region with a balanced representation among government, academic, and business/private membership. The Central Great Plains is using three scenarios: historical data, transient climate scenarios from the output of three global climate models and some stakeholder defined scenarios of plausible climate perturbations. Socio-economic analyses of impacts will also be undertaken. The assessment report is expected during 2002.

Co-Principal Investigators Dennis Ojima, Colorado State University
Jill Lackett, Colorado State University
Coordinating Federal Agency U.S. Department of Energy
Agency Representative Jerry Elwood, U.S. Department of Energy
Key Issues
  • Water
  • Agricultural Modeling
  • Agricultural Land Use / Adaptation
  • Ranching and Rangeland Production Systems
  • Conservation Areas

Assessment Team 

  • Lenora Bohren, Colorado State University
  • Tim Kittel, National Center for Atmospheric Research
  • Jill Lackett, Colorado State University
  • Dennis Ojima, Colorado State University
  • Rob Ravenscroft, Private Rancher

Steering Committee 

  • Lenora Bohren, Colorado State University
  • Dennis Child, US Department of Agriculture
  • Jim Geist, Colorado Corn Administrative Committee
  • Myron Gutmann, University of Texas
  • Tim Kittel, National Center for Atmospheric Research
  • Martin Kleinschmit, Center for Rural Affairs, Nebraska
  • Jack Morgan, USDA / ARS Rangeland Resouces Research
  • Dennis Ojima, Colorado State University
  • Gary Peterson, Texas Agricultural Experimental Station
  • Jorge Ramirez, Colorado State University
  • Rob Ravenscroft, Private Rancher
  • Lee Sommers, The Agricultural Experiment Station
  • Lori Triplett, The Great Plains Foundation
  • Bill Waltman, US Dept of Agriculture/ Natural Resources Conservation

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