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Midwest and Northern Forests Regional Climate Hubs Vulnerability Assessment Published

Posted by Jerry L. Hatfield, Midwest Climate Hub lead and Christopher Swanston, Northern Forests Sub Hub lead in Climate
Mar 25, 2020
Betts, L. (2011). Iowa Field Erosion (pp. Topsoil as well as farm fertilizers and other potential pollutants run off unprotected farm fields when heavy rains occur.). Iowa: NRCS.
Betts, L. (2011). Iowa Field Erosion (pp. Topsoil as well as farm fertilizers and other potential pollutants run off unprotected farm fields when heavy rains occur.). Iowa: NRCS.

USDA’s Regional Climate Hubs were established in February of 2014 to deliver science-based knowledge, practical information, and program support to farmers, ranchers, forest landowners, and resource managers to support climate-informed decision-making in light of the increased risks and vulnerabilities associated with a changing climate. As part of their function, the Hubs were tasked with providing periodic regional assessments of risk and vulnerability to production sectors and rural economies, building on material provided under the National Climate Assessment conducted through the United States Global Change Research Program (USGCRP).  With the publication of this Vulnerability Assessment, the Midwest and Northwest Regional Climate Hubs are providing their stakeholders with an introduction to the region, regional sensitivities and adaptation strategies for working lands, a greenhouse gas emissions profile with mitigation opportunities, and an overview of how partner USDA agencies are being affected by a changing climate. This vulnerability assessment is an important first step in establishing a baseline “snapshot” of current climate vulnerabilities, and provides region-specific adaptation and mitigation strategies to increase the resilience of working lands in the region.

The Midwest and Northern Forests Region covers the States of Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Ohio, and Wisconsin and represents one of the most extensive and intensive agricultural systems in the world. The Northern Forests Climate Sub Hub shares this footprint and represents people working and living in these widespread northern forests, which store vast amounts of carbon even as they support industry, recreation, and cultural values. Diverse agriculture, grasslands and prairies, forests and woodlands, and urban areas form a mosaic across this landscape that defies any single approach to coping with the changing climate, but instead enables numerous approaches and opportunities.

Crops and forests are under increasing pressure from weeds, insects, and diseases as a consequence of variable weather and a changing climate. Additionally, much forest management in the Midwest relies on natural regeneration of primary tree species, which is jeopardized in many boreal and drought-intolerant species. Therefore, understanding the implications of changing weather patterns and variability is critical to the effective management of agricultural and forest systems. Producers want tools that can help implement adaptation strategies to reduce these climate-related pressures and ensure the quality of production. Producers need information about the effects of climate change on production systems, which range from management of labor resources in specialty crop production, to market demand for nursery crops given the changing climate, to marketing of locally grown produce, and development of innovative management systems to increase profitability and product quality across all systems. The Midwest and Northern Forests Regional Climate Hubs are working to assemble information to serve the needs of producers and increase the value of our research information in educational and outreach efforts.

Category/Topic: Climate

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Leonard page
Feb 06, 2019

I think this info is useful.

Wesley clay
Nov 16, 2020

I find this information helpful but i must ask in the process of reducing weeds and insect life will the USDA be using environmentally safe alternitives to keep from making the problem worse as well as how are you gonna change farming methods to keep from eroding dry land and worsening climate change and when will these changes be implemented?

Ben Weaver
Nov 16, 2020

@Wesley clay - thank you for your comment. I am glad this report was helpful. The USDA Climate Hubs strive to provide land managers with the information and tools they need to maintain productivity and enhance resilience in a changing climate. We do not prescribe or implement management practices, rather, we provide a menu of options through our adaptive management process described here: We facilitate this process so that land managers can identify their individual goals in a changing climate and plan for those changes based on their priorities.

Our adaptation menus vary by region and by crop to reflect the unique climate vulnerabilities they face. We have also developed regional case studies that you can use to identify adaptation strategies that might align with your management approach here: Additionally, NRCS provides information and resources for organic farmers here ( that you may find useful.

We hope this is helpful, please let me know if you need additional information.

Rachel Steele
National Climate Hub Lead