United States
Environmental Protection
M % Agency
What Climate Change
Means for KaHSaS
Kansas's climate is changing. In the past
century, most of the state has warmed
by at least half a degree (F). The soil is
becoming drier. Rainstorms are becoming
more intense, and floods are becoming
more severe. Warming winters and
changes in the timing and size of rainfall
events have altered crop yields. In the
coming decades, summers are likely to
become increasingly hot and dry, creating
problems for agriculture and possibly
human health.
Our climate is changing because the
earth is warming. People have increased
the amount of carbon dioxide in the air by
40 percent since the late 1700s. Other
heat-trapping greenhouse gases are also
increasing. These gases have warmed
the surface and lower atmosphere of our
planet about one degree during the last
50 years. Evaporation increases as the
atmosphere warms, which increases hu-
midity, average rainfall, and the frequency
of heavy rainstorms in many places—but
contributes to drought in others.
Temperature change (°F):
-1 -0.5 0 0.5 1 1.5 2 2.5 3 3.5
Rising temperatures in the last century. All parts
of Kansas have waimed. Source: EPA, Climate
Change Indicators in the United States.
Precipitation and Water Resources
Changing climate is likely to increase the demand for water but make it less
available. Soils have become drier over the last several decades, and they are
likely to continue to become drier as warmer temperatures increase evaporation
and water use by plants. Average rainfall during the summer is likely to decrease.
Seventy years from now, the longest period without rain each year is likely to be
three or four days longer than today. Warmer temperatures and drier soils are
also likely to decrease the average flow of rivers and streams, because drier soil
retains more water when it rains.
Drier soils will increase the need for farmers to irrigate their crops, but sufficient
water might not be available. Approximately 22 percent of the farmland in
Kansas is irrigated, mostly with ground water from the High Plains Aquifer
System. As a result, this aquifer is becoming depleted. Since the 1950s, the
amount of water stored in the aquifer has declined by more than 25 percent in
many parts of the state. (See map on back page.)
Decreased river flows can create problems for navigation, recreation, public
water supplies, and electric power generation. Commercial navigation can be
suspended during droughts when there is too little water to keep channels deep
enough for barge traffic. Decreased river flows can also lower the water level in
lakes and reservoirs, which may limit municipal water supplies and impair
swimming, fishing, and other recreational activities. Although the state has only
one hydroelectric dam, conventional power plants also need adequate water for
cooling. Compounding the problem, rising temperatures are expected to
increase the demand for electricity for air conditioning.
¦ -
A very low flow of water on the Arkansas River at Great Bend during a drought.
July 12, 2013. Credit: Nathan Sullivan, USGS.

More than 50%
25% to 50%
10% to 25%
10% to 25%
More than 25%
No substantial change
10% to-10%
gj| Area where the aquifer stores
little or no water
— County boundary
0 20 40 60 80 KILOMETERS
¦ High Plains Aquifer • Surface water point of diversion • Ground water point of diversion
Ground water accounts for 96 percent of the water used for iirigation
in Kansas. Most of it comes from the High Plains Aquifer. Top: Percent
depletion of ground water in the High Plains Aquifer, 1950-2013.
Bottom: Irrigation trends in Kansas, 1991-2011. Source: USGS.
Rising temperatures, drier
soils, and decreasing water
availability are likely to present
challenges for Kansas's farms.
Yields would decline by about
50 percent in fields that can no
longer be irrigated. Even where
ample water is available, higher
temperatures would reduce yields
of corn. Increased concentrations
of carbon dioxide, however,
may increase yields of wheat
and soybean enough to offset the impact of higher temperature.
Although warmer and shorter winters may allow for a longer
growing season, they may also promote the growth of weeds and
pests, and shorten the dormancy for many winter crops, which
could increase crop losses during spring freezes.
The early flowering of winter wheat could have negative
repercussions on livestock farmers who depend on it for feed.
Livestock themselves may also be affected by more intense heat
waves and lack of water. Hot weather causes cows to eat less,
grow more slowly, and produce less milk, and it can threaten their
Rainstorms and Tornadoes
Although summer droughts are
likely to become more severe,
floods may also intensify.
During the last 50 years, the
amount of rain falling during the
wettest four days of the year
has increased about 15 percent
in the Great Plains. River levels
associated with flooding have
increased in eastern Kansas.
Over the next several decades,
the amount of rainfall during the
wettest days of the year is likely
to continue to increase, which
would increase flooding.
Scientists do not know how the frequency and severity of tornadoes
will change. Rising concentrations of greenhouse gases tend to
increase humidity, and thus atmospheric instability, which would
encourage tornadoes. But wind shear is likely to decrease, which
would discourage tornadoes. Research is ongoing to learn whether
tornadoes will be more or less frequent in the future. Because
Kansas experiences about 100 tornadoes a year, such research is
closely followed by meteorologists in the state.
Hot Weather and Human Health
Hot days can be unhealthy—even dangerous. By 2050, Kansas is
likely to have four times as many days above 100°F. Certain people
are especially vulnerable, including children, the elderly, the sick,
and the poor. The elderly may be particularly prone to heat stress
and other heat-related health problems, including dehydration,
cardiovascular strain, and respiratory problems. Those with low
incomes may be particularly vulnerable due to a lack of air condi-
tioning. Power failures due to severe weather can also present risks,
especially in lightly populated areas where access to the necessary
support services may be limited.

I ¦*
% .-ryv
A center-pivot inigation system
in western Kansas. Credit: Lori
Marintzer, USGS.
A worker measures the overflow
of the Smoky Hill River along old
U.S. Route 40 during a record
flood near New Cambria. May 25,
2007. Credit: USGS, Kansas Water
Science Center.
The sources of information about climate and the impacts of climate change in this publication are: the national climate assessments by the U.S. Global Change Research
Program, synthesis and assessment products by the U.S. Climate Change Science Program, assessment reports by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, and EPA's
Climate Change Indicators in the United States. Mention of a particular season, location, species, or any other aspect of an impact does not imply anything about the likelihood or
importance of aspects that are not mentioned. For more information about climate change science, impacts, responses, and what you can do, visit EPA's Climate Change website
at vmw.epa.aov/climatechanae.