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 Northern Forests 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.
Stay tuned as more regional vulnerability assessments are published by the Climate Hubs in the coming months! Read or Download the full Vulnerability Assessment here.