Ag Weather Forum
Bryce Anderson DTN Ag Meteorologist and DTN Analyst

Tuesday 07/29/14

General Mills Climate Change Policy

When a Fortune 500 company announces that its concerns about climate change are leading to some new demands on its suppliers, it's interesting. When that company is the third-largest food processor in the U.S.--and is headquartered in the Upper Midwest (Golden Valley, Minnesota) the announcement is worth posting.--Bryce

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Jul 28, 2014 • By John Church

How the weather forecast impacts food supply

Weather is often something people think about as they’re walking out the door in the morning or as they make weekend plans. But, for a food company like General Mills, it’s a much longer-term consideration.

Weather conditions such as drought, floods and excessive heat, can decrease yields on crops like corn, oats and wheat.

Changing weather patterns can also impact our ability to deliver quality products to our consumers and value to our shareholders.

As weather volatility increases, General Mills recognizes the need to mitigate the climate change risks presented to humanity, our environment and our livelihoods. The urgency is clear: science-based evidence points to changes in climate that could permanently alter the atmosphere if action isn’t taken in the near term.

An innovative, holistic approach is essential.

For years, General Mills has been working to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions in our operations and in agriculture. We’ve had specific GHG targets in place for our direct operations since 2005.

However, given that nearly two-thirds of General Mills’ GHG emissions and 99 percent of water use throughout our value chain occur upstream of our direct operations, primarily in agriculture, we’ve also been focused on advancing sustainable agriculture.

To this end, we’ve made a commitment to sustainably source 100 percent of our 10 priority ingredients by 2020.

These ingredients represent 50 percent of our total raw material purchases. Today, we further our commitment to environmental stewardship and sustainable agriculture by announcing a corporate climate policy that establishes a framework for our efforts to track and reduce GHG emissions across our broader value chain. This includes requiring key ingredient suppliers to demonstrate environmental, social and economic improvements in their supply chains.

In addition, our policy addresses further reductions in resource usage within our own operations; our leadership role in a multi-stakeholder water stewardship strategy; and our continued contributions to food waste reduction.

Climate change is not an issue one company can tackle alone. It takes the collaboration and dedication of many.

General Mills has sought partners with a shared commitment to mitigating climate change. We recently joined BICEP, Ceres’ Business for Innovative Climate and Energy Policy, in an effort to advocate more closely with policy makers to pass meaningful energy and climate legislation.

Mindy Lubber, president, Ceres, welcomed us to the group saying: “General Mills is showing increasing leadership on climate change and we are proud to welcome the company as our newest member of BICEP. With General Mills’ global commitment to sustainable sourcing and the work it is doing to reduce GHG emissions in its direct operations and in agriculture, the company brings a lot to the table. We are certain General Mills will be an effective advocate for strong climate and energy policies.”

We also have great, long-standing partners including the Innovation Center for U.S. Dairy and Field to Market: The Alliance for Sustainable Agriculture.

And, our collaborative work includes other important multi-stakeholder groups such as the Roundtable for Sustainable Palm Oil and Bonsucro.

The imperative is clear: business, together with governments, NGOs and individuals, need to act together to reduce the human impact on climate change. Government policies that provide proportionate and clear guidance on mitigation and adaptation are essential for large scale progress.

Business investment in innovations that help reduce natural resource use and create energy alternatives is essential to reach scalable practices and technologies. And, helping individual consumers make more sustainable choices is essential to reducing the collective human impact on the environment.

We all have a part to play.

We encourage you – individuals and organizations alike – to join us in the commitment to reduce our collective environmental footprint and improve the overall health of the planet.

As consumers, we can make a difference by reducing food waste, recycling packaging, using less water and energy and by choosing more energy efficient appliances. Together, our combined actions can have a big impact.

Follow our progress as we report annually in our Global Responsibility Report and via the Carbon Disclosure Project and the Water Disclosure Project.

John Church is the executive vice president of supply chain operations at General Mills, based in Minneapolis. He is responsible for worldwide sourcing, product logistics, manufacturing and global engineering. He joined General Mills in 1988.

An Internet version is at this address:…


Posted at 9:41AM CDT 07/29/14 by Bryce Anderson
Comments (4)
This is good as long as they follow through and that the practices are truly "sustainable". All industries need to have similar polices as in the end creating a smaller carbon footprint is not only good for the environment but also reduces their usage of fossil fuels which are rapidly depleting. Hopefully General Mills will become a model company in this area.
Posted by Jay Mcginnis at 6:00AM CDT 07/30/14
Would be nice if they defined their goals and defined what they mean by sustainable agriculture. Without specifics it looks like they are just patting themselves on the back to look green for uninformed consumers like they did when they said Cheerios were GMO free. Average consumer doesn't know oats are all non-GMO. Nice advertising but show us what you really plan to do.
Posted by David Kessler at 9:44AM CDT 07/30/14
I was in the Teamsters Union for 30 years and have developed a real good B.S. detector and right now it is going off big time.
Posted by GORDON KEYES at 10:45AM CDT 07/30/14
Right on Gordon. It starts with Global Warming and climate change misinformation and then comes these sort of solutions. End result is more corporate and government control and less private ownership and control.
Posted by bbob at 1:00PM CDT 07/30/14

Monday 07/28/14

Southwest Water Loss Is Incredible

The following article has some stunning detail about just how much water is being lost in the southwestern U.S. with the tremendous drought--and a lack of conservation. There's a real punch line at the end as well regarding water policy.--Bryce

Twitter @BAndersonDTN

Satellites show major Southwest groundwater loss

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) --- Groundwater losses from the Colorado River basin appear massive enough to challenge long-term water supplies for the seven states and parts of Mexico that it serves, according to a new study released Thursday that used NASA satellites.

Researchers from NASA and the University of California, Irvine say their study is the first to quantify how much groundwater people in the West are using during the region's current drought.

Stephanie Castle, the study's lead author and a water resource specialist at the University of California, Irvine, called the extent of the groundwater depletion "shocking."

"We didn't realize the magnitude of how much water we actually depleted" in the West, Castle said.

Since 2004, researchers said, the Colorado River basin --- the largest in the Southwest --- has lost 53 million acre feet, or 17 trillion gallons, of water.

That's enough to supply more than 50 million households for a year, or nearly fill Lake Mead --- the nation's largest water reservoir --- twice. (BA note--not to mention how many acres' worth of crops could be watered.)

Three-fourths of those losses were groundwater, the study found.

Unlike reservoirs and other above-ground water, groundwater sources can become so depleted that they may never refill, Castle said. For California and other western states, the groundwater depletion is drawing down the reserves that protect consumers, farmers and ecosystems in times of drought.

"What happens if it isn't there?" Castle said during a phone interview. "That's the scary part of this analysis."

The NASA and University of California research used monthly gravity data to measure changes in water mass in the basin from December 2004 to November of last year, and used that data to track groundwater depletion.

"Combined with declining snowpack and population growth, this will likely threaten the long-term ability of the basin to meet its water-allocation commitments to the seven basin states and to Mexico, Jay Famiglietti, senior author on the study and senior water-cycle specialist at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, said in a statement.

The Colorado River basin supplies water to about 40 million people and 4 million acres of farmland in seven states --- California, Arizona, Colorado, New Mexico, Nevada, Utah and Wyoming --- as well as to people and farms in part of Mexico.

California, one of the nation's largest agricultural producers, is three years into drought. While the state has curtailed use of surface water, the state lacks a statewide system for regulating --- or even measuring --- groundwater.


Posted at 9:57AM CDT 07/28/14 by Bryce Anderson
Comments (2)
If the arrogance of the people continues, I hope I live far enough away when the taps won't run. Like every thing else, just a little conservation and common sense would accomplish much.
Posted by Bonnie Dukowitz at 6:00AM CDT 07/29/14
Desalinization plants run by solar, wind, geothermal ,or nuclear are going to have to be built if the population continues to rise where there is not consistent rain fall. Some common sense would be in order to not build nuclear plants on a earth quake zone or were they are prone to tide waves. These are the carbon neutral solutions that put people to work and produce a badly needed product, like potable water. This is to much common sense to a problem and not likely to happen any time soon.
Posted by Rex Steffes at 9:46AM CDT 07/29/14

Friday 07/25/14

Climate Trends And Farmer Questions

The following article on a farmer's thoughts regarding climate change and food production ability was written by DTN special correspondent Richard Oswald of Langdon, MO in a feature called "Letter from Langdon" that originally was posted on the "Daily Yonder" website. Richard Oswald is a fifth-generation farmer in Atchison county in northwest Missouri and is president of the Missouri Farmers Union.--Bryce

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Letter from Langdon: Reliably Unpredictable

Farmers will have to grow as much food in the next 26 years as they’ve grown in the previous 1,500. And they will have to do it as climate change brings increasingly erratic weather. Maybe it’s time to start asking questions besides “What, me worry?”

By Richard Oswald

Back in his day, Dad always stressed the risky side of farming. As proof he’d pull from a desk drawer his personal handwritten record of Langdon yearly corn prices during the 1950’s. Next to those were annual yields. The message was clear; if prices don’t get you, yield and weather will.

I should have asked more questions.

I thought I had all the answers. When I looked around the neighborhood all I saw was accumulated wealth of successful farmers rooted all the way down to the Depression era. Now I’ve figured out the hard way, secrets are held not in the answers you have, but in the questions you ask, like:

Why were they there?

Because the only farmers I saw were those who had survived.

How does one farmer succeed where so many have failed?

Being optimistic helps. Farmers believe hail storm losses won’t be total, the drought won’t last and rain will fall, the levee could hold if the river drops and, if all else fails, prices should rise. But as optimistic farmers like me grow older, they’ve learned that even if the government doesn’t mess things up, Mother Nature might.

Like an old farmer once said, “I’d rather be lucky than smart.”

Anyhow, Dad was right.

Farming is risky.

Now we have Risky Business, a group that believes climate change and rising sea levels are fact, not fiction. In the past, big agribusiness and a lot of farmers in the U.S. have been naysayers on climate change. But Greg Page, chairman of the board of Cargill, Inc., happens to be on the Risky Business committee.

With interests in at least 65 different nations, Cargill has obviously learned to manage risk. One of the most diversified and best-connected food and agriculture corporations in the world, neither Cargill nor Mr. Page is known for going out on thin ice.

Regardless of whether you believe scientists' 150 years’ worth of temperature records or your favorite political party, you have to believe Cargill. Weather is making farming even riskier.

How risky is it?

For a farmer, risk comes from every direction. It happens when the Cargills of the world raise the cost of fertilizer, cut the price of hogs, cattle or grain. It hits when fuel prices go up or ethanol prices go down.

Or, maybe when Cargill gets the things I have to sell from some distant shore instead of from me.

But the biggest personal risk farmers accept is weather. The effects of local weather aren’t felt across all sectors of business the same way individual mom and pop farms do. Sure, supply and demand eventually come into play no matter how much corporations try to manipulate prices. But, if a tornado blows machine sheds away or hail beats crops to the ground, all a farmer has is insurance and savings (if that) to survive. And insurance is becoming more costly as storm intensities rise – even with bigger deductibles demanded by risk-averse insurance companies.

Most scientists say the climate is warming. One friend, amused by controversy surrounding climate, pointed out to me that global temperatures have been rising since the last ice age–and will probably continue until the next. Iowa State ag meteorologist Elwynn Taylor upholds cyclical patterns as having the greatest effect on weather, giving only 5 percent blame to higher CO2 (carbon dioxide) levels and climate change. Taylor is quoted widely throughout the Corn Belt for his forecasts as well as his views on climate change. But even Taylor seems to bend toward conservation as a way to limit CO2’s effects, especially when he speaks to agriculture’s special interest groups.

Since climate has a lot to do with how much food we can grow, and because Iowa sits at the heart of America’s most productive farmland, Iowa’s land grant universities have a vested interest in studying every aspect of food production. That’s why it’s understandable that more than one opinion on climate emanates from ISU.

Jerry Hatfield is a Ph.D. USDA research scientist based on the Iowa State campus at Ames. Last month, Hatfield was one of the presenters at the Institute on the Environment in St. Paul, Minnesota, during a meeting hosted by Oxfam America. Besides Hatfield, University of Minnesota climatologist Mark Seeley and farmers Virginia Nunonca from Peru and Richard Oswald from Langdon, Missouri (that’s me), were also on the program.

Seeley, who also hosts a weekly program on Minnesota Public Radio, served as moderator. Both farmers discussed increasingly-arid conditions in one place while record flooding happened in others. But, it was Jerry Hatfield who got my attention with one statement.

Between now and the year 2040, farmers will need to produce as much food as was grown in the previous 1,500 years. That’s because by then, world population levels are expected to exceed 9 billion. On top of that, greater weather variability means higher temperatures, and production shifts to the north, to places like North Dakota where it used to be impossible to produce long maturity crops like corn.

But not anymore.

So what’s going on?

Most scientists say average temperatures are rising. But that is obscured by an increasingly turbulent atmosphere that carries unusual frost events briefly southward, destroying fruit tree crops. As a result, fruit production is becoming less predictable. And, while average air temperatures at the poles aren’t much different today, the same atmospheric turbulence that affects more moderate latitudes drives warm ocean water to the poles where it melts ice caps from underneath. The result is a thin edge of ice that breaks off more easily as icebergs simply float away and melt.

People like Hatfield emphasize that farm crop production will be highly variable as weather becomes less predictable. All this will happen as food availability is expected to increase to meet population demands. We are using our soil and water at a faster pace than ever before with little emphasis placed on sustainability--which is to say we’re growing food in ways we can’t continue to do forever.

How can we get people to think about that?

Industrial food models don’t offer sustainability. But, like developers in coastal areas, who lobby against real-estate-depressing government warnings of rising sea levels, promoters of industrial food don’t want to talk about where or how they get raw food products or what they make of them.

That was one purpose of the meeting in St. Paul--to call attention to the plight of farmers and consumers as weather becomes more predictably unreliable, so companies like Cargill and Minneapolis-based General Mills will purchase sustainably-produced food ingredients instead of getting them from palm oil plantations that burn trees.

But, it always comes down to asking the right question. Since no one has all the answers, maybe the best question is also the simplest:

How can we do it better?

A web version of this article is at this link:…


Posted at 1:48PM CDT 07/25/14 by Bryce Anderson

Thursday 07/24/14

Canadian Crops Benefit From Warmer, Drier Weather

The weather has been mostly on the side of farmers and their crops since mid-July as warmer, mostly dry weather has taken hold for Western Canada. A brief interruption in this pattern during the next few days will bring some rain which is actually needed in a few areas to bolster top soil moisture which has begun to lag a bit with recent drier weather, especially across western Alberta.

The recent stretch of warm, dry weather has helped crops to recover some from the cool, wet conditions of late spring and early summer, such as the heavy rains that hit earlier in July in southeastern Saskatchewan. (DTN photo by Elaine Shein)

The upper air weather features across North America are expected to bring a mean ridge to the western U.S. which will poke up into Western Canada during the next week and probably as long as two weeks. A trough is currently pushing through southwest Canada bringing the rainy, cooler weather in the short term.

Following the passage of this trough later this weekend and into next week we can expect a return of warm weather and generally dry conditions once again. As has been the case since last winter, Manitoba may see less of the warmth than the western Prairies are expected to see.

The recent stretch of warm, dry weather has helped crops to recover some from the cool, wet conditions of late spring and early summer. While improvement has been noted, crop development is still running a little behind schedule for most areas. Hopefully the expected favorable conditions of the next week or two will allow for more catching up for crops.

Longer-range model products are keeping Western Canada in a mostly favorable weather pattern for crop advancement as we enter August. Near to above normal temperatures are being forecast for much of the region with Manitoba remaining closer to seasonal norms.

The monthly forecast for August across the Prairies is also mostly favorable with temperatures expected to average near to above normal for Alberta and Saskatchewan and just a little lower than normal across Manitoba. Rainfall predictions are for near to above normal amounts, but as long as rains are not too heavy most areas should benefit from this forecast.

Doug Webster can be reached at


Posted at 10:53AM CDT 07/24/14 by Doug Webster

Wednesday 07/23/14

Mostly Favorable August Rain Forecast

When the hot spell of July 20-23 formed over the western Corn Belt, there was a fair amount of worry start up over whether this was the start of a quick switch in crop weather fortunes to a hot, dry, droughty end to the growing season.

Total August rainfall of one to two inches above normal is indicated for all but the southern tier of states in the U.S. crop belt. (NOAA graphic)

That does not seem to be in the cards. As the rainfall forecast graphic from the U.S. forecast model illustrates, August rain totals running from one to two inches above normal is indicated for the entire Midwest, most of the Plains, the Rockies, and the Southwest. The only area with below-normal precipitation is along the southern tier, from central Texas east to Florida.

A combination of southwestern U.S. monsoon flow (typical for this time of year); the prevailing high-latitude blocking high pressure influence that has been so dominant in shoving the storm track southward over the central U.S.; some influence from a weak El Nino-type Pacific Ocean temperature pattern; and a still-evident subtropical high pressure area off the southeast U.S. coast all combine to bring on this type of rainfall outlook.

Such a pattern keeps the factors in place for big crops this fall and possibly record-high corn and soybean production, which has been well-publicized.


Twitter @BAndersonDTN

Posted at 12:39PM CDT 07/23/14 by Bryce Anderson
Comments (7)
Reminder note--when you respond to topics, keep your comments pertaining to the topic and keep it civil regarding your fellow posters. Do that and we're good. Thanks.
Posted by Bryce Anderson at 2:45PM CDT 07/23/14
Mr. Anderson, This is what I was referring to. From the Daily Mail online, July 5th. For years, computer simulations have predicted that sea ice should be disappearing from the Poles. Now, with the news that Antarctic sea-ice levels have hit new highs, comes yet another mishap to tarnish the credibility of climate science. Climatologists base their doom-laden predictions of the Earth's climate on computer simulations. But these have long been the subject of ridicule because of their stunning failure to predict the pause in warming--nearly 18 years long on some measures--since the turn of the last century. It's the same with sea ice. We hear a great deal about the decline in Arctic sea ice, in line with or even ahead of predictions. But why are environmentalists and scientists so much less keen to discuss the long-term increase in the southern hemisphere? In fact, across the globe, there are about one million square kilometres more sea ice than 35 years ago, which is when satellite measurements began. It's fair to say that this has been something of an embarrassment for climate modellers. But it doesn't stop there. In recent days a new scandal over the integrity of temperature data has emerged, this time in America, where it has been revealed as much as 40 per cent of temperature data there are not real thermometer readings. Many temperature stations have closed, but rather than stop recording data from these posts, the authorities have taken the remarkable step of "estimating" temperatures based on the records of surrounding stations. So vast swathes of the data are actually from "zombie" stations that have long since disappeared. This is bad enough, but it has also been discovered that the US's National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration is using estimates even when perfectly good raw data is available to it--and that it has adjusted historical records. Why should it do this? Many have noted that the effect of all these changes is to produce a warmer present and a colder past, with the net result being the impression of much faster warming. They draw their conclusions accordingly. Naturally, if the US temperature records are indeed found to have been manipulated, this is unlikely to greatly affect our overall picture of rising temperatures at the end of the last century and a standstill thereafter. The US is, after all, only a small proportion of the globe. Similarly, climatologists' difficulties with the sea ice may be of little scientific significance in the greater scheme of things. We have only a few decades of data, and in climate terms this is probably too short to demonstrate that either the Antarctic increase or the Arctic decrease is anything other than natural variability. But the relentless focus by activist scientists on the Arctic decline does suggest a political imperative rather than a scientific one--and when put together with the story of the US temperature records, it's hard to avoid the impression that what the public is being told is less than the unvarnished truth. As their credulity is stretched more and more, the public will--quite rightly--treat demands for action with increasing caution... Andrew Mountford
Posted by Brandon Butler at 3:27PM CDT 07/23/14
looks like sept-oct august not soon enough any way for some
Posted by andrew mohlman at 11:36PM CDT 07/23/14
Nothing in the forecast 14 days out. By then it will be too late as crop are stressed already. Better check that August forecast again.
Posted by LYLE FISHER at 7:52AM CDT 07/24/14
Hope you're right Bryce - providing the forecast for precip materializes this weekend, I will have gone nearly a month with only 1.2 inches. BTW Brandon, I agree that modeling is only as good as the people entering the raw data - witness American vs European forecast models.
Posted by Curt Zingula at 8:11AM CDT 07/24/14
You may be interested in this article from the National Snow and Ice Data Center on what's happening in the Antarctic.
Posted by Bryce Anderson at 10:15AM CDT 07/24/14
Bryce, Thanks to you and all DTN weather team. Providing you best guess is all the client base can reasonably expect. We are all guilty of certain biases and interpretations. The process of debate is always helpful and thought provoking. I also appreciate opposing views on some of the bigger climate issues included in the comment section. Allowing clients to voice their opinions is a hallmark of a democratic society.
Posted by McFly at 10:35AM CDT 07/24/14

Friday 07/18/14

2013 State Of The Climate Report

Steadily-increasing world temperatures and the effects of that trend highlight the 2013 "State of the Climate" report released this week by the American Meteorological Society. The news release is presented in this blog entry.


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Climate data from air, land, sea and ice in 2013 reflect trends of a warming planet

Increases in temperature, sea level and CO2 observed; Southern Hemisphere warmth and Super Typhoon Haiyan among year’s most notable events

July 17, 2014

In 2013, the vast majority of worldwide climate indicators—greenhouse gases, sea levels, global temperatures, etc.—continued to reflect trends of a warmer planet, according to the indicators assessed in the State of the Climate in 2013 report, released online today by the American Meteorological Society.

Scientists from NOAA’s National Climatic Data Center in Asheville, N.C., served as the lead editors of the report, which was compiled by 425 scientists from 57 countries around the world (highlights, visuals, full report). It provides a detailed update on global climate indicators, notable weather events, and other data collected by environmental monitoring stations and instruments on air, land, sea, and ice.

“These findings reinforce what scientists for decades have observed: that our planet is becoming a warmer place,” said NOAA Administrator Kathryn Sullivan, Ph.D. “This report provides the foundational information we need to develop tools and services for communities, business, and nations to prepare for, and build resilience to, the impacts of climate change.”

The report uses dozens of climate indicators to track patterns, changes, and trends of the global climate system, including greenhouse gases; temperatures throughout the atmosphere, ocean, and land; cloud cover; sea level; ocean salinity; sea ice extent; and snow cover. These indicators often reflect many thousands of measurements from multiple independent datasets. The report also details cases of unusual and extreme regional events, such as Super Typhoon Haiyan, which devastated portions of Southeast Asia in November 2013.


Greenhouse gases continued to climb: Major greenhouse gas concentrations, including carbon dioxide (CO2), methane and nitrous oxide, continued to rise during 2013, once again reaching historic high values. Atmospheric CO2 concentrations increased by 2.8 parts per million (ppm) in 2013, reaching a global average of 395.3 ppm for the year. At the Mauna Loa Observatory in Hawaii, the daily concentration of CO2 exceeded 400 ppm on May 9 for the first time since measurements began at the site in 1958. This milestone follows observational sites in the Arctic that observed this CO2 threshold of 400 ppm in spring 2012.

Warm temperature trends continued near the Earth’s surface: Four major independent datasets show 2013 was among the warmest years on record, ranking between second and sixth depending upon the dataset used. In the Southern Hemisphere, Australia observed its warmest year on record, while Argentina had its second-warmest and New Zealand its third-warmest.

Sea surface temperatures increased: Four independent datasets indicate that the globally averaged sea surface temperature for 2013 was among the 10 warmest on record. El Nino Southern Oscillation (ENSO)-neutral conditions in the eastern central Pacific Ocean and a negative Pacific decadal oscillation pattern in the North Pacific had the largest impacts on the global sea surface temperature during the year. The North Pacific was record warm for 2013.

Sea level continued to rise: Global mean sea level continued to rise during 2013, on pace with a trend of 3.2 plus or minus 0.4 millimeters (mm) per year over the past two decades.

The Arctic continued to warm; sea ice extent remained low: The Arctic observed its seventh-warmest year since records began in the early 20th century. Record-high temperatures were measured at 20-meter depth at permafrost stations in Alaska. Arctic sea ice extent was the sixth-lowest since satellite observations began in 1979. All seven lowest sea ice extents on record have occurred in the past seven years.

Antarctic sea ice extent reached record-high for second year in a row; South Pole station set record high temperature: The Antarctic maximum sea ice extent reached a record high of 7.56 million square miles on October 1. This is 0.7 percent higher than the previous record high extent of 7.51 million square miles that occurred in 2012 and 8.6 percent higher than the record-low maximum sea ice extent of 6.96 million square miles that occurred in 1986. Near the end of the year, the South Pole had its highest annual temperature since records began in 1957.

Tropical cyclones near average overall / Historic Super Typhoon: The number of tropical cyclones during 2013 was slightly above average, with a total of 94 storms, in comparison to the 1981-2010 average of 89. The North Atlantic Basin had its quietest season since 1994. However, in the Western North Pacific Basin, Super Typhoon Haiyan – the deadliest cyclone of 2013 – had the highest wind speed ever assigned to a tropical cyclone, with one-minute sustained winds estimated to be 196 miles per hour.

State of the Climate in 2013 is the 24th edition in a peer-reviewed series published annually as a special supplement to the Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society. The journal makes the full report openly available online.


Posted at 1:24PM CDT 07/18/14 by Bryce Anderson
Comments (20)
Bryce, isn't it true that before the ice age at the time of dinosaurs the planet was much warmer, green house gases much higher levels than today to feed the much bigger and more abundant plant life. To make it sound that humans can change the climate and stop something that is occurring naturally as it has in the past is irresponsible. We need to prepare and use tools to adapt. We will use farming as an example, it is forecasted the the upper Midwest ( prairie pothole region) will experience more rain and larger events yet at the same time these groups are forcing policy that are taking away drainage rights and tools away from this region. These are the facts. Current policies are not addressing the problems correctly.
Posted by Unknown at 10:41PM CDT 07/18/14
Bryce: I am not sure where you are getting your data, but red-faced NOAA had to admit recently that there has been no warming since 1996. The U.N. data is completely fabricated.
Posted by tom vogel at 7:14AM CDT 07/19/14
I'm wondering why nitrous oxide doesn't get more press? Its mentioned here but there are no quantitative values. Nitrous oxide is 296 times more persistent than CO2 - my generation won't make a climate difference with that! In my area, environmentalists are constantly attacking drainage tile. Unwittingly, they don't seem to realize how much drainage tile can reduce denitrification - the production of nitrous oxide. Are the environmentalists ignorant about agriculture or is global warming/carbon dioxide their avenue to assert socialist behavior?!
Posted by Curt Zingula at 7:17AM CDT 07/19/14
Farming forty miles south of Chicago, we had our third coldest winter in 140 years and we just set another record for the lowest high temperature for the July 15th of 67 degrees for the high that day. Curt is right about the tile.
Posted by Rex Steffes at 12:34PM CDT 07/20/14
I guess that since Chicago's weather determines the price of grain it should also determine the state of global climate? I did see in C-3 website (climate, conservative, consumer) what Tom refers to in his reference. This website shows with graphs that increases in atmospheric carbon (which by the way it denies is happening on the same page) corresponds to increase of grain yields since 1960 so it concludes that carbon is a good thing to grain production, let's tell seed companies like Pioneer that we haven't needed their research, yields are going up because of increases in carbon that C-3 also says is a hoax! This is the "science" that conservatives point to in climate denial. You know I was in the super market and saw a newspaper that claimed Elvis never died and that a "Batboy" was found in a cave! Its all in print, I am sure its real and so why the heck listen to 97% of climate scientists or any scientists when we just want to believe what we want to believe?
Posted by Jay Mcginnis at 5:15PM CDT 07/20/14
Jay, it's good to make jokes. but just to be clear we are talking about proposed laws that will hurt our ability to feed the world. You can't eat dirt, you can't eat recyclables, Pioneer, Monsanto and other seed companies are giving us the traits we need to double our yields so we can feed and fuel this world. I am positive the earth is warming and cooling and warming and cooling. I wonder if the reported rise in greenhouse gasses was caused by plants using less co2 in 2012? Plants shut down before grain fill in a lot of fields.
Posted by Mark KIngma at 6:10AM CDT 07/21/14
The climate has always been changing. What caused the glaciers in North America to melt? It must have been GLOBAL WARMING!!!
Posted by JEFF HANSON at 8:01AM CDT 07/21/14
I'm referring to the glacial meltdown that took place hundreds of years ago! Was that caused by native americans keeping warm around their campfires?
Posted by JEFF HANSON at 8:37AM CDT 07/21/14
Oh you're so silly Jeff, natives and as far as that the entire worlds population wasn't burning 90 million barrels of oil per day plus millions of tons of coal,,, in fact they weren't burning ANY fossil fuels! What you fail to understand is that fossil fuels are stored carbon which accumulated over millions of years (yes there are scientists out there that believe the world is older then 5000 years) and releasing this carbon in huge quantities for only <100 years is turning us back to a prehistoric atmosphere. And yes Mark you are right, you can't eat dirt so what kind of ag will exist when all the fossil fuels are depleted? There are better ways to power our transportation system and power the grid, why don't we make the switch now instead of drilling deeper and mining Canadian tar sands which takes a HUGE carbon footprint to extract??? Hanity and Rush are right, there is a "Mideast" of oil in North America,,, only they fail to say it will take another "mideast" of oil to extract it!
Posted by Jay Mcginnis at 9:50AM CDT 07/21/14
Jay,you still haven't answered as to why North America warmed up to melt the glaciers hundreds of years ago?
Posted by JEFF HANSON at 12:01PM CDT 07/21/14
I'm waiting to here for your response Jay. It seems people don't look any farther than they can see. The glaciers melting and moving thru the glacial lake system seems to never be addressed along with the ice from the last ice age melting.
Posted by Unknown at 7:34PM CDT 07/21/14
Oh wow,,, you guys are on to something I am sure scientists never thought of this! Hurry and call NOAA so they can tell 97% of all scientists they are wrong!
Posted by Jay Mcginnis at 5:28AM CDT 07/22/14
Well then answer the question Jay, your here shooting off your mouth as to how much fossil fuels is to blame for our current climate change. You surely should have an educated idea as to why the glaciers melted. And keep NOAA and your scientist out of it.
Posted by GWL 61 at 6:27AM CDT 07/22/14
Don't feel bad guys, I've been asking that glacier melting question to all my "green" friends for years to no avail. I'm sure all the fossil fuel use does not do the climate any good, I'm all on board with that. Surely one of those 97 percent of scientists can answer this question and shut all of us simpletons up.
Posted by TOM DRAPER at 7:30PM CDT 07/22/14
Again how times change. Going to school in the 70"s we were told by scientist that the world was returning to the ice age because the sun was burning itself out. Al Gore starts a global warming fad and all the "experts" jump in for the ride. Why is the almighty USDA not in on this, all we need to clear the air is one of their corrupt "reports" or "estimates" to guide everyone in the right direction like their markets they control.
Posted by DAVID/KEVIN GRUENHAGEN at 11:18PM CDT 07/22/14
I have posted these statistics before, but here they are again regarding the subject of "global cooling" predictions 40 years ago--A survey of the scientific literature has found that between 1965 and 1979, 44 scientific papers predicted warming, 20 were neutral and just 7 predicted cooling. So while predictions of cooling got more media attention, the majority of scientists were predicting warming even then. Out of 71 papers reviewed, only TEN percent predicted cooling in the future. 44 out of 71--or SIXTY-TWO percent--predicted warming.
Posted by Bryce Anderson at 7:34AM CDT 07/23/14
Posted by Brandon Butler at 8:23AM CDT 07/23/14
I'd like to see some statistics posted pertaining to the fraudulent figures that NOAA has been throwing around. Haven't seen too many responses by the usual suspects when someone posts about THAT 900 lbs. gorilla in the corner of the room.
Posted by Brandon Butler at 8:25AM CDT 07/23/14
Mr. Butler--are you referring to the temperature trends that NOAA has been cataloguing and reporting on? That topic was brought up four years ago in the so-called "Climategate" controversy, and a review of the research and data scientists were working with found no manipulation of the numbers. And regarding the solar cycle--yes, the solar cycle is less at this time, which would have brought on an overall cooler trend in temperatures, but has not. We continue to see global temperatures increase as highlighted in the climate reports.
Posted by Bryce Anderson at 9:02AM CDT 07/23/14
Thanks all for comments. This blog item is closed. We'll have new items for discussion in the near future.
Posted by Bryce Anderson at 9:56AM CDT 07/23/14

Thursday 07/17/14

Canada Crops Benefit From Warmer Weather

The current upper level charts feature a weak to moderate ridge over western North America, centered mostly in the U.S., but extending somewhat into southwest Canada as well. The trough that brought recent fairly cool weather to central and east areas of the Canadian Prairies is seen moving off to the east.

The short range maps, today through Monday, show one trough moving east across the region early in the period and the second one tracking into the area later in the period. These systems will bring some showers and thunderstorms back to the area, but most of the heavier activity would be in the west and north areas. We also note a turn to cooler weather again for Alberta, while Saskatchewan and Manitoba turn much warmer during this period. This will likely favor crop development in many areas, mostly due to the warmer weather through central and east areas.

The longer range charts, days six to 10 of the forecast, show the western U.S. ridge strengthening and building first north and then east over the U.S Rockies and plains regions. This ridge may be strong enough to push some fairly warm weather north into the Canadian Prairies for a short period.

However, there are signs of yet another strong short wave trough moving in off the Pacific by the middle of the six-to-10-day period. This new trough may force the U.S. ridge back towards the south again which would lead to another round of thunderstorms and windy conditions for the Canadian Prairies region. It is somewhat uncertain as to where these storms would be the heaviest, but the early call on this would be somewhere in the central or east part of the belt. Temperaturess would turn cooler again behind this trough, at least for a time.

The strength of the U.S. ridge early in the six-to-10-day period makes the forecast for the Canadian Prairies somewhat uncertain. A strong ridge may force the thunderstorms further north and it could pass by the major growing belt. It also is possible, even if thunderstorms do occur in the major growing belt, that the ridge would rebuild following the passage of the trough and send another round of warm and dry weather back into the area.

In either case, is appears we are setting up for another period of more active weather for the region which will make the weather during the next week or so rather changeable.


Posted at 12:48PM CDT 07/17/14 by Joel Burgio

Tuesday 07/15/14

El Nino No Cure For California Drought

The following article from the news service at the University of California-Davis has a detailed update on the withering drought going on in California--and why one go-round with El Nino will not by itself reverse fortunes.--Bryce

Twitter @BAndersonDTN

A new report from the University of California, Davis, shows that California agriculture is weathering its worst drought in decades due to groundwater reserves, but the nation’s produce basket may come up dry in the future if it continues to treat those reserves like an unlimited savings account.

The UC Davis Center for Watershed Sciences study, released today at a press briefing in Washington, D.C., updates estimates on the drought’s effects on Central Valley farm production, presents new data on the state’s coastal and southern farm areas, and forecasts the drought’s economic fallout through 2016.

The study found that the drought -- the third most severe on record -- is responsible for the greatest water loss ever seen in California agriculture, with river water for Central Valley farms reduced by roughly one-third.

Groundwater pumping is expected to replace most river water losses, with some areas more than doubling their pumping rate over the previous year, the study said. More than 80 percent of this replacement pumping occurs in the San Joaquin Valley and Tulare Basin.

The results highlight California agriculture's economic resilience and vulnerabilities to drought and underscore the state’s reliance on groundwater to cope with droughts.

“California’s agricultural economy overall is doing remarkably well, thanks mostly to groundwater reserves,” said Jay Lund, a co-author of the study and director of the university’s Center for Watershed Sciences. “But we expect substantial local and regional economic and employment impacts. We need to treat that groundwater well so it will be there for future droughts.”

Other key findings of the drought’s effects in 2014:

  • Direct costs to agriculture total $1.5 billion (revenue losses of $1 billion and $0.5 billion in additional pumping costs). This net revenue loss is about 3 percent of the state’s total agricultural value.
  • The total statewide economic cost of the 2014 drought is $2.2 billion.
  • The loss of 17,100 seasonal and part-time jobs related to agriculture represents 3.8 percent of farm unemployment.
  • 428,000 acres, or 5 percent, of irrigated cropland is going out of production in the Central Valley, Central Coast and Southern California due to the drought.
  • The Central Valley is hardest hit, particularly the Tulare Basin, with projected losses of $810 million, or 2.3 percent, in crop revenue; $203 million in dairy and livestock value; and $453 million in additional well-pumping costs.
  • Agriculture on the Central Coast and in Southern California will be less affected by this year’s drought, with about 19,150 acres fallowed, $10 million in lost crop revenue and $6.3 million in additional pumping costs.
  • Overdraft of groundwater is expected to cause additional wells in the Tulare Basin to run dry if the drought continues.
  • The drought is likely to continue through 2015, regardless of El Niño conditions.
  • Consumer food prices will be largely unaffected. Higher prices at the grocery store of high-value California crops like nuts, wine grapes and dairy foods are driven more by market demand than by the drought.
Groundwater a “slow-moving train wreck”

If the drought continues for two more years, groundwater reserves will continue to be used to replace surface water losses, the study said. Pumping ability will slowly decrease, while costs and losses will slowly increase due to groundwater depletion.

California is the only state without a framework for groundwater management.

“We have to do a better job of managing groundwater basins to secure the future of agriculture in California,” said Karen Ross, Secretary of the California Department of Food and Agriculture, which largely funded the UC Davis study. “That’s why we’ve developed the California Water Action Plan and a proposal for local, sustainable groundwater management.”

Failure to replenish groundwater in wet years continues to reduce groundwater availability to sustain agriculture during drought -- particularly more profitable permanent crops, like almonds and grapes -- a situation lead author Richard Howitt of UC Davis called a “slow-moving train wreck.”

“A well-managed basin is used like a reserve bank account,” said Howitt, a professor emeritus of agricultural and resource economics. “We’re acting like the super rich who have so much money they don’t need to balance their checkbook.”

To forecast the economic effects of the drought, the UC Davis researchers used computer models, remote satellite sensing data from NASA, and the latest estimates of State Water Project, federal Central Valley Project and local water deliveries and groundwater pumping capacities.

The analysis was done at the request of the California Department of Food and Agriculture, which co-funded the research with the University of California.

The report’s other co-authors include UC Davis agricultural economists Josué Medellín-Azuara and Dan Sumner, and Duncan MacEwan of the ERA Economic consulting firm in Davis.

California produces nearly half of U.S.-grown fruits, nuts and vegetables and nearly a quarter of the nation’s milk and cream. Across the nation, consumers regularly buy several crops grown almost entirely in California, including tomatoes, carrots, broccoli, almonds, walnuts, grapes, olives and figs.

More detail is at this link:…


Posted at 11:23AM CDT 07/15/14 by Bryce Anderson
Comments (1)
As California runs out of water in the next 2 years they can be assured that big oil will be able to keep up with their fossil fuel needs so gasoline prices will not rise and the amount of greenhouse gasses they expel will not diminish, proving to the world that we can continue the "American way" despite climate change.
Posted by Jay Mcginnis at 5:53AM CDT 07/17/14

Monday 07/14/14

No Heat Threat Yet

We continue to see the elements in place for a lack of real threatening heat in the Corn Belt. As of Monday afternoon, the northern branch of the jet stream featured a trough over Alaska; blocking high pressure from western Canada through north-central Canada; and another trough over northeast Canada and Greenland. This is a warm to hot pattern for western Canada, while eastern Canada is mild and cool. The southern branch of the jet features a trough over the Gulf of Alaska; high pressure over the western U.S.; and a strong trough over south-central and southeast Canada extending southward into the central and eastern U.S. Subtropical high pressure is located over the southwest U.S. and southeast Florida.

The effect of this large-scale setup is comprehensive and widespread; and in fact, this pattern has been generally with us since back in February of 2013 (yes, it pre-dates the infamous Polar Vortex winter of 2013-14). We are experiencing the impact in the form of a very mild midseason.

And, things do not change much at all during the next ten days, which takes us to late July. During the six to ten-day period the northern branch of the jet stream will continue to feature a trough over Alaska, but will also feature more trough over western Canada as the blocking ridge gets displaced eastward into eastward Canada. This will be a mild and cool pattern for most of Canada as opposed to just the eastern portion to start out the week. The southern branch of the jet stream will feature a lower-amplitude flow with embedded disturbances across southern Canada and the northern U.S. To the south of this jet, a strong subtropical ridge (high pressure) will dominate the southwest U.S. with some weak trough to the east of this ridge over the southeast U.S. This will be an active rainfall pattern for the southern U.S during the next five days, less active over the Midwest and northern Plains due to the strength of the trough over the central and eastern U.S. forcing the main storm track well to the south. During the six to ten-day period, as the ridge strengthens in the southwest U.S., the main storm track will return to the Midwest and northern Plains.

This will be an unseasonably cool pattern for the central U.S. during the next 5 days due to the strength of the trough over the region. During the six to ten-day period, temperatures will become more variable as a boundary zone sets up between the cooler weather to the north and the warmer weather to the south with disturbances moving along this boundary zone causing temperatures to fluctuate.

But here is the kicker and the bottom line regarding crop weather--There is no indication at this time that building subtropical ridging in the southwest states will lead to a significant period of hot, dry weather in the Midwest.


Twitter @BAndersonDTN


Posted at 2:48PM CDT 07/14/14 by Bryce Anderson
Comments (4)
Bryce, I know it is a little early, but here in Minnesota, we are wondering if we will get enough heat to get the crop to maturity. We planted most of the crop 3 weeks later than a May 1 normal. We are 100-130 GDU' s behind corn planted May 17 to the 22nd. That is about 6 days behind. Only 9.5 GDU's yesterday and probably not much more today. So we are loosing ground on heat to move the crop along. Do you see any probability of a stretch of above normal temps in August for us to catch up some. A few tassels here and there are starting to show up but full blown pollination is still a week to 10 days away.
Posted by MARK & LEA NOWAK at 7:43AM CDT 07/15/14
Mark, thanks for the question. Both the 6-10 day and 8-14 day forecasts offer above normal temperatures for the Upper Midwest--more favorable for crop progress.
Posted by Bryce Anderson at 8:01AM CDT 07/15/14
Rockford, IL TV station is forecasting some possible frost in areas this week. Do you have any idea what model they are looking at?
Posted by Peter Erdmann at 9:50AM CDT 07/15/14
Forecast models all run through different iterations in their productions. Considering the very cool circumstances, it would not be a surprise that one of those iterations/presentations had frost as a possibility.
Posted by Bryce Anderson at 5:19AM CDT 07/18/14

Thursday 07/10/14

Sunshine, Dry Weather Favors Crops

The siege of cool, wet weather appears to be over, at least for the time being, and the warmer, drier pattern that has taken hold since early July is beginning to benefit crops. Areas affected by excess moisture have begun to show improvement with the stretch of sunny, dry, warmer days beginning to speed up crop growth. There continue to be areas of excess moisture and crop death but the areal coverage is beginning to diminish.

The weather pattern that dumped the region with heavy rains and cool weather during the past couple of months is taking a vacation, hopefully a long one. However, there continues to be aspects of the winter weather pattern left over into the summer months, particularly the pesky high latitude blocking.

The upper air pattern that has evolved during the recent few days is expected to amplify further into one all too familiar from last winter. A ridge is expected to grow across far western Canada and through the Gulf of Alaska, possibly helped along by a continuing pool of warmer than normal sea surface temperatures across the Gulf of Alaska. At the same time an unseasonably strong trough and polar vortex is expected to slide southeastward from the Northwest Territories to the northern Great Lakes by early to mid next week.

If this sounds like some of the cycles we went through last winter then you would be correct. A pool of chilly weather will invade the central and eastern Prairies later this weekend lasting into Tuesday or Wednesday of next week. While it is not expected to be cold enough for frost it might become cool enough to slow crop growth a bit early next week. Alberta should see less of the chill and the best crop weather.

The goods news is that dry weather is expected for the region for a good number of days to come allowing further drying of excess soil moisture. Despite the cool push of weather coming during the next several days the weather outlook for crops is favorable for much of the region, especially for Alberta through next week and maybe beyond.

Longer range model forecasts that were largely wet and cool for later July and August from a week ago have taken a step back into a little more favorable category as well. The August outlook now is calling for only Manitoba to be a little cooler than normal while near to above normal temperatures are expected for the remainder of the region. Even the wet outlook as evaporated somewhat with mostly near normal rainfall now expected.

Doug Webster can be reached at

Posted at 10:44AM CDT 07/10/14 by Doug Webster

Wednesday 07/09/14

El Nino Explained

The following article from the International Research Institute for Climate and Society (IRI) has a well-put-together look at some basic questions regarding El Nino and La Nina development--and impact--on weather patterns. The article's text as posted by Francesco Fiondella of the IRI, is posted below. The full article production is available at this link:…


Twitter @BAndersonDTN

For years, people have been pointing to El Nino as the culprit behind floods, droughts, famines, economic failures, and record-breaking global heat. Can a single climate phenomenon really cause all these events? Is the world just a step away from disaster when El Nino conditions develop? What exactly is this important climate phenomenon and why should society care about it? Who will be most affected? We address these questions as well as clear up some common misconceptions about El Nino, La Nina, and everything in between!

First, the basics. El Nino refers to the occasional warming of the eastern and central Pacific Ocean around the equator. The warmer water tends to get only 1 to 3 degrees Celsius above the average sea-surface temperatures for that area, although in the very strong El Nino of 1997-98, it reached 5 degrees or more above average in some locations. La Nina is the climate counterpart to El Nino–-a yin to its yang, so to speak. A La Nina is defined by cooler-than-normal sea-surface temperatures across much of the equatorial eastern and central Pacific. El Nino and La Nina episodes each tend to last roughly a year, although occasionally they may last 18 months or longer.

The Pacific is the largest ocean on the planet, so a significant change in its normal pattern of surface temperatures would lead to corresponding changes in atmospheric winds. This can have consequences for temperature, rainfall and vegetation in faraway places. In normal years, trade winds push warm water—and its associated heavier rainfall—westward toward Indonesia. The warmer waters in the west and relatively colder waters in the east Pacific reinforce the pattern and strength of the trade winds. But during an El Nino, which occurs on average once every three-to-five years, the winds fade out and can even reverse direction, bringing the rains toward South America instead. This is why we typically associate El Nino with drought in Indonesia and Australia and flooding in Peru. We have observed enough El Nino events by now that we know these changing climate conditions, combined with other factors, can have serious impacts on society, such as reduced crop harvests, wildfires, or loss of life and property in floods. There is also evidence that the regional climate anomalies associated with El Nino conditions increase the risk of certain vector-borne diseases, such as malaria, in places where they don’t occur every year and where disease control is limited.

However, while we may expect certain climate impacts in certain regions during an El Nino event, there is still a possibility that other aspects of the climate system in a particular year may work to offset the influence of El Nino. During either an El Nino or a La Nina, we also observe changes in atmospheric pressure, wind and rainfall patterns in different parts of the Pacific, and beyond. An El Nino is associated with high pressure in the western Pacific, whereas a La Nina is associated with high pressure in the eastern Pacific. The ‘see-sawing’ of high pressure that occurs as conditions move from El Nino to La Nina is known as the Southern Oscillation. The oft-used term El Nino-Southern Oscillation, or ENSO, reminds us that El Nino and La Nina episodes reflect changes not just to the ocean, but to the atmosphere as well.

ENSO is one of the main sources of year-to-year variability in weather and climate on Earth and has significant socioeconomic implications for many regions around the world. The developing El Nino conditions in recent months offer an opportunity to clear up some common misconceptions about the climate phenomenon:

1. Do El Nino periods cause more disasters than normal periods?

On a worldwide basis, this isn’t necessarily the case. But ENSO conditions do allow climate scientists to produce more accurate seasonal forecasts and help them better predict extreme drought or rainfall in several regions around the globe. (Read a 2005 paper on the topic here.) On a regional level, however, we’ve seen that El Nino and La Nina exert fairly consistent influences on the climate of some regions. For example, El Nino conditions typically cause more rain to fall in Peru, and less rain to fall in Indonesia and Southern Africa. These conditions, combined with socioeconomic factors, can make a country or region more vulnerable to impacts. On the other hand, because El Nino enhances our ability to predict the climate conditions expected in these same regions, one can take advantage of that improved predictability to help societies improve preparedness, issue early warnings and reduce possible negative impacts.

2. Do El Nino and La Nina significantly affect climate in most regions of the globe?

They significantly affect only about 25% of the world’s land surface during any particular season, and less than 50% of land surface during the entire time that ENSO conditions persist.

3. Do regions affected by El Nino and La Nina see impacts for the entire 8-12 months that the climate conditions last?

No. Most regions will only see impacts during one specific season, which may start months after the ENSO event first develops. For example, the current El Nino may cause the southern U.S. to get wetter-than-normal conditions in the December to March season, but Kenyans may see wetter-than-normal conditions between October and December.

4. Do El Nino episodes lead to adverse impacts only?

Fires in southeast Asia, droughts in eastern Australia, flooding in Peru often accompany El Nino events. Much of the media coverage on El Nino has focused on the more extreme and negative consequences typically associated with the phenomenon. To be sure, the impacts can wreak havoc in some developing and developed countries alike, but El Nino events are also associated with reduced frequency of Atlantic hurricanes, warmer winter temperatures in the northern half of the U.S., which reduce heating costs, and plentiful spring/summer rainfall in southeastern Brazil, central Argentina and Uruguay, which leads to above-average summer crop yields.

5. Should we worry more during El Nino episodes than La Nina episodes?

Not necessarily. They each come with their own set of features and risks. In general, El Nino is associated with increased likelihood of drought throughout much of the tropical land areas, whereas La Nina is associated with increased risk of drought throughout much of the mid-latitudes. El Nino may have gained more attention in the scientific community, and thus the public, because it substantially alters the temperature and circulation patterns in the tropical Pacific. La Nina, on the other hand, tends to amplify normal conditions in that part of the world: the relatively cold temperatures in the eastern equatorial Pacific become colder, the relatively warm temperatures become even warmer, and the low-level winds blowing from east to west along the equatorial Pacific strengthen.

6. The stronger the El Nino/La Nina, the stronger the impacts, and vice versa, right?

Current forecasts show that a weak-to-moderate El Nino is likely to develop by mid-autumn 2014. Does this mean we should expect weak-to-moderate impacts? Not necessarily. The important point to remember is that ENSO shifts the odds of some regions receiving less or more rainfall than they usually do, but it doesn’t guarantee this will happen. For example, scientists expected the very strong El Nino of 1997/98-–which triggered wildfires in Indonesia and flooding and crop loss in Kenya--to also increase the chances of below-normal summer rainfall in India and South Africa, but this didn’t happen. On the other hand, India did experience strong rainfall deficiencies during a much weaker El Nino in 2002, and severe drought during the moderate El Nino of 2009-2010. So, while there is a slight tendency for stronger El Nino/La Nina events to have stronger impacts, many exceptions may be expected.

7. Are El Nino and La Nina events directly responsible for specific storms or other weather events?

We usually can’t pin a single event on an El Nino or La Nina, just like we can’t blame global climate changes for any single hurricane. ENSO events typically affect the frequency or strength of weather events-–for example, when looked at over the course of a season, regions experience increased or decreased rainfall.

8. Are El Nino and La Nina closely related to global warming?

El Nino and La Nina are a normal part of the earth’s climate and have likely been occurring for millions of years. Global climate change may affect the characteristics of El Nino and La Nina events, but the research is still ongoing.


Posted at 11:33AM CDT 07/09/14 by Bryce Anderson
Comments (2)
its about time u said something that made sense Bryce, "a normal part of earths climate"
Posted by Mark Knobloch at 9:58PM CDT 07/09/14
Amen ! Mark
Posted by GWL 61 at 11:58AM CDT 07/10/14

Monday 07/07/14

Wheat Weather has Global Focus

OMAHA (DTN) -- The U.S. Southern Plains hard red winter wheat crop, which is now being harvested, has had a variety of weather issues: drought, low temperatures and late-season heavy rain. As of Sunday, June 29, harvest progress nationwide was 5 percentage points behind average. Less than half the crop -- 43% -- was in the bin. However, the crop is not a full-fledged disaster; there have been some surprisingly good performances.

Favorable world wheat prospects hinder further price rally potential due to North American weather issues. (DTN photo by Elaine Shein)

"It has been an interesting year in that wheat just keeps hanging on," said Kansas State agronomist Jeanne Falk-Jones in a weekly harvest report by the Kansas Wheat Growers Association.

That resilience of wheat is reflected in the wheat market's perception of world prospects. At this point, Southern Plains drought is viewed as the only big trouble spot in the world's major wheat-growing regions.

"KC wheat prices are holding above important support at $7 (a bushel), but unless more problems emerge from elsewhere around the globe, it will be very difficult for wheat prices to trade much higher," said DTN Grain Market Analyst Todd Hultman. "Until those basic conditions change, the future course for wheat prices is lower."

One of those high-profile regions is the Black Sea region: Ukraine, Belarus, South Russia and West Russia. This region suffered from drought two years ago, recovered somewhat in 2013, and is looking very promising for its production in 2014, with mid-June conditions bolstering that outlook.

"Widespread showers and below-normal temperatures further improved yield prospects for wheat and summer crops across much of the region," noted USDA's Weekly Weather and Crop Bulletin June 23. "A slow-moving cold front generated periods of light to moderate rain from eastern Ukraine into southern and western Russia, boosting soil moisture for reproductive to filling winter heat and vegetative summer crops. In addition, sharply cooler weather eased any lingering concerns over heat stress from the previous weeks, with daytime highs dropping to near-ideal levels for crop development." Recent rains have also been noted farther east into Kazakhstan and Siberia (former Soviet New Lands regions), where spring wheat is grown.

Later in 2014, Australia's wheat crop will be harvested. Australia is an important competitor, with particularly a large portion of the Western Australia wheat crop going directly to the export market. At this point, the analysis is "good to excellent" for wheat in Western Australia according to USDA. "Farther east, scattered showers in South Australia, Victoria, and New South Wales continued to benefit winter grains and oilseeds, further aiding emergence and establishment. In southern Queensland, sunny skies and

generally adequate topsoil moisture spurred winter wheat development," USDA reported.

Other major wheat areas such as the northern U.S. Plains and Canadian Prairies spring wheat region have some issues with wet soils, but at this point, not of enough extent to rattle the market significantly. The Saskatchewan weekly crop report as of June 23 rated winter wheat at 70% in good-to-excellent condition and spring wheat at 82% in good-to-excellent condition.

"A deluge of rainfall in eastern Saskatchewan and western Manitoba over the June 28-29 weekend dropped as much as 200 millimeters (8 inches) of rain on already saturated soils, with some estimates suggesting losses from acres not seeded or seeded and then flooded could be in the millions of acres for all crops, yet markets continue to reflect a lack of concern," said DTN Canadian Grain Analyst Cliff Jamieson.

In India, a slow-starting monsoon season also has failed to excite the grain trade yet.

"Concerns about dryness in parts of India are not significant enough to motivate the buy side of the market," said Hultman.

Bryce Anderson can be reached at

Follow Bryce Anderson on Twitter @BAndersonDTN


Posted at 8:57AM CDT 07/07/14 by Bryce Anderson

Thursday 07/03/14

Favorable Soybean Weather Forecast for July

OMAHA (DTN) -- The U.S. soybean crop, expected to be a bin-buster in 2014, has a full month to go through before its spotlight month. The market aphorism is that July is the key month for corn due to pollination, whereas the majority of soybean pod-setting and pod-filling is accomplished during August.

The July weather forecast offers a generally beneficial scenario for soybeans ahead of the critical pod-filling month of August. (DTN photo by Katie Micik)

That doesn't mean traders ignore the weather influences on soybean plants. July sets the foundation for good soybean yields in the form of plant health and robust growth for blooming. In the early stages of plant condition assessment, the evaluation is very positive. Soybean crop plant ratings the week of June 22 were tabbed at 72% good to excellent, a record high for the date.

"With these stellar crop ratings, the trade is now feeling more confident that the USDA's record 2014 soybean yield projection of 45.2 bushels per acre can be attained or even exceeded," said DTN Contributing Analyst Joel Karlin.

A big reason for that is a weather pattern that featured mild weather and consistent rainfall during June. While July may bring a seasonal decline in rainfall, temperatures are not forecast to take a sudden move to extreme heat.

"The lack of hot temperatures in the forecast and improved soil moisture across the U.S. adds bearish influence to soybean prices," said DTN Market Analyst Todd Hultman.

For DTN Senior Ag Meteorologist Mike Palmerino, the atmospheric configuration over the primary U.S. crop areas continues to generate favorable temperatures and periods of rain.

"Significant high latitude blocking high pressure is expected to continue in the vicinity of Alaska and northwest Canada, and in the vicinity of Greenland. This will maintain a mild and cool pattern for much of Canada," Palmerino said. "Subtropical high pressure will be located over the southern U.S. Disturbances in the jet stream moving along the boundary zone between the cooler air to the north and warmer air to the south will be the focus of frequent episodes of scattered showers and thunderstorms over most of the Plains and Midwest."

One feature that all of agriculture will keep close tabs on is the development -- or lack thereof -- of an El Nino event in the Pacific Ocean. The water temperature component of El Nino reached half a degree Celsius above normal in mid-June over the eastern sector of the Pacific. However, the barometric pressure component of El Nino known as the Southern Oscillation Index (SOI) had not moved into El Nino categories at the end of June. Government weather agencies in the U.S. and Australia forecast El Nino to be in place by August, which portends well for soybeans because of a strong relationship between El Nino in the Pacific and benign crop weather, or at least no threatening heat in the Midwest.

South Dakota State Climatologist Dennis Todey thinks El Nino may have already begun to display its influence. Still, he is hedging when it comes to predicting how long this feature will last.

"We could have the sea surface temperatures cool quickly and not have much El Nino influence at all," Todey said. "I think such a development (rapid cooling) is highly unlikely, but we'll need to wait to see if there is a stronger signal over a period of time."

The fact that soybeans will still have their critical month of August yet to come keeps Karlin from placing a rubber stamp of approval on the prospects for yield, even with a beneficial-looking pattern in July.

"Having great early-season conditions have little correlation with final yields, especially with the critical flowering and pod setting phase not occurring until August," Karlin said. "Traders realize there is a long time until this year's soybean crop is safely in the bin."

Bryce Anderson can be reached at

Follow Bryce Anderson on Twitter @BAndersonDTN


Posted at 10:47AM CDT 07/03/14 by Bryce Anderson
Comments (2)
Bryce, I recently saw an article on one of the news shows that implied that the Antarctic ice flows where on record schedule this year. Seems that we are gaining so much ice in the Antarctic that we have begun to make the artic ice of no importance. Your comments on the improvement on ice flows of the world? Or, will we sweep this under the rug. Sorry bout that. I know you have your beliefs (how ever erred they are). The weather seems to be going back to the early 60s, or late 50s. That would indicate a cycle pattern.
Posted by BD, NE LA. at 8:39PM CDT 07/03/14
BD, NE LA More ice of artic could hint a cooler summer, which is good for grain yields. We can only guess for this season.
Posted by Bill Liu at 1:19AM CDT 07/08/14

Wednesday 07/02/14

Warmer and Drier Weather Returns For a Time to W. Canada

The rain and cool temperatures of June are hopefully a thing of the past, but not all signs are on board with that outlook. Temperatures during June were cooler than normal by 0.2 to 1.2 degrees C across the Prairies. Though not below normal by huge amounts, the chillier-than-normal readings combined with heavy rains have affected developing crops.

Rainfall totals across Alberta last month averaged 130% of normal while amounts rise to 191% and 198% of normal, respectively, for Saskatchewan and Manitoba. Two major rain events produced flooding of fields and slowed crop development.

The gloomy conditions and cool temperatures have slowed crop development since mid-June so that at least half of most crops are now behind their normal pace of development. Soil moisture conditions are mostly adequate to surplus with excess moisture and local flooding leading to crop damage in some areas. The greatest amount of excess wetness is across Saskatchewan and Manitoba while conditions are a little more favorable across Alberta.

During the past few days a drier and slowly warmer weather pattern has been evolving across western Canada as enough of a ridge from the western U.S. pushes northward. This ridge should bring a few more days of warmer temperatures and mostly dry weather to the region, helping to dry soils and to allow for increased crop growth.

The question then becomes how long will the improved pattern last? It appears the jet stream flow will settle southward again later this weekend into next week, along with an increase in shower threats. What we do not see is a threat for widespread heavy rains again this time around with a more normal hit-and-miss shower threat as the cold front and low pressure area cross the region Sunday and Monday.

Warm temperatures into the early weekend should cool back some early next week, but probably only to seasonable levels. We may see some increase in temperature along with minimal rain threats as we move into the middle and end of next week.

Can we say goodbye to the cool, wet pattern for the summer? I would not want to sign off on that just yet. There continue to be some computer model forecasts that bring back cooler, wetter weather as we move deeper into July and into August. The hope is that there is enough warmer, drier weather in the meantime to allow for increased crop growth and that any cooler, wetter weather later on is not of the magnitude of what we saw during June.

Some of the same players that brought the cool, wet spring are still with us across North America. The trough across the Gulf of Alaska is still there and can at any time send a new series of troughs inland across western Canada. The track of these troughs is all important as to whether the Prairies sees a few spotty showers or another dumping of heavy rains.

Doug Webster can be reached at

Posted at 1:24PM CDT 07/02/14 by Doug Webster

Tuesday 07/01/14

Favorable July Corn Forecast

OMAHA (DTN) -- The past two years have seen far different temperature trends for the Corn Belt. In 2012, record heat and drought withered crops. In 2013, a very cool pattern was dominant. So far, indications are that July 2014 will be closer to last year, and corn yield prospects in record-level categories are being discussed as a result.

Weather conditions appear favorable for corn pollination during July. (DTN photo by Pam Smith)

"The (corn) crop condition rating June 22 rates as one of the best ever for this time of year," said DTN Contributing Analyst Joel Karlin. "This helps cement trade ideas that the USDA's 165.3 bushel-per-acre yield projection is on track and may be exceeded."

The June 29 corn crop good-to-excellent total was a lofty 75%. Karlin pointed to five other years -- 1986, 1987, 1991, 1994 and 1999 -- in the 1986-2013 period when the June ratings exceeded 2014. Of those five years, only 1991 had final corn yields below trendline. Three of those years -- 1986, 1987 and 1994 -- "were years of record-high yields," Karlin said in a recent DTN "Fundamentally Speaking" blog.

Conditions are not ideal everywhere, however. South Dakota state climatologist Dennis Todey is concerned about heavy, record-breaking rain during June causing problems for the northern sector of the Corn Belt: the Dakotas, Minnesota, northern Iowa and Wisconsin. In this region, record-breaking rains have soaked many fields. Sioux Falls, S.D., for example, set an all-time monthly record precipitation total (for any month) during the first three weeks of June, with almost 13 1/2 inches, which is almost 4 inches more than the previous record 9 4/10 inches in May 1898. He looks for additional chances for wet conditions during July.

"The problem is not necessarily, will it be wet, but what happens between now and fall," Todey said. "If we have enough heat, a wet fall won't be a big problem. But if there's not enough heat, especially in the northern Corn Belt, there could be some problems with wet harvest."

Outside of the saturated north, mild weather and periods of rain appear set to be very favorable for corn pollination.

"July looks like a good month for the Corn Belt overall," Todey said. "There are no big major issues. We'll have to wait to see what happens with the wet areas. Overall, we're in pretty good shape right now."


One big reason for a generally-favorable July forecast is what appears to be a developing El Nino pattern in the Pacific Ocean. El Nino, featuring above-normal sea surface temperatures in the equator region and sustained west-to-east low-latitude jet stream trends, is seen as a non-threatening feature during U.S. summer seasons. El Nino has not yet been officially identified, but DTN Senior Ag Meteorologist Mike Palmerino says evidence is building that El Nino's influence is part of this season's weather scenario.

"We've seen enough indications, with an active tropical season in the eastern Pacific; the inability to really get the India monsoon on track; rainfall patterns increasing due to a very warm tropical Pacific north of the equator; sea surface temperatures a solid one-and-a-half degree Celsius above normal ... overall I think we're here," Palmerino said.

The U.S. Climate Prediction Center does not officially recognize El Nino yet, Todey said, but "it's either starting or very close to starting. Now the discussion is where is the core of the warm water setting up, how strong will this El Nino be; when is it going to peak?"

For the corn market, the issue of El Nino may be one of semantics. The cliche "rain makes grain" is fully in play for the month of July, despite the wet-ground issues in the northern sector. With that idea, DTN Senior Analyst Darin Newsom sees a bearish market weather factor going into the pollination month of July.

"Traders who trade USDA (and there are a lot of them who do) remember last year when the government refused to cut planted/harvested acres to the much-discussed levels everyone thought following spring flooding," Newsom said. "They may not buy into it this year unless it gets worse."

Bryce Anderson can be reached at

Follow Bryce Anderson on Twitter @BAndersonDTN


Posted at 6:57AM CDT 07/01/14 by Bryce Anderson
Comments (1)
Some weather observations from South Central Minnesota. We normally have 3 days in the 90's during June. This year there was none. In a normal growing season we have 13 days in the 90's. We are fast approaching the warmest days of the year and my DTN "local forecast" does not predict any 90 degree days thru July 16th. I'll have to do some local research and see if we ever went an entire growing season without a 90 degree day. But thanks to my DTN "on farm weather station", I read the GDU's accumulated every day. I started planting corn on May 17th. Normally by that date we have accumulated 170 GDU's from a May 1st start date. As of June 30 (yesterday) we have accumulated 820 GDU's on ournorth farm. Normal for this date is 868. So we are only 48 GDU's behind normal. We average about 20 per day at this time of the growing season. So despite nearly a 3 week late start to planting, we are only a little over 2 days behind on growth. Based upon corn leaf count, with normal weather for the next 3 weeks, we should start seeing tassel in about 18 days- nearly right on schedule. I recorded 10.78 inches of rain in June, an all time record for Nowak Farms for the 41 years of farming. I measured my drowned out spots and they amount to 2% of planted acres. Some in the area have more and some just, like us, under 3%. With/if ElNino treats us to a good non stressful rest of growing season, we can make up some of the lost acres with good yields on the remaining acres. Although I must say variability on corn plant health varies tremendously from field to field in the area due probably to compaction and or loss of nitrogen. One noticeable trend is that some of the best looking crop is on last years prevent plant acres that were treated with a cover crops. The tillage radish fields seem to be doing the best, especially if they were not tilled last Fall. Thanks Bryce, you and your staff do a great job keeping us informed on weather and climate.
Posted by MARK & LEA NOWAK at 8:48AM CDT 07/01/14
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