Kansas is vulnerable to increasing heat, drought, and severe storms which threaten agricultural and economic productivity and human health
Kansas’s climate is already changing. In the past century, most of the state has warmed by at least one degree Fahrenheit. Rainstorms are becoming more intense, and annual rainfall is increasing. In the future, Kansas can expect increasingly hot summers, which can negatively impact yields for some crops while extending the growing seasons for others.
- Increasing heat: Extreme heat will increase in the Great Plains region. Days where the maximum temperature exceeds 95 degrees Fahrenheit in the Southern Plains are projected to quadruple by mid-century. Rising temperatures, persistent drought and aquifer depletion could threaten the long-term sustainability of the great plains. While the northern plains may see crop gains, Kansas could see losses in crop yields as temperatures continue to rise according to a Risky Business report. Changes to crop cycles and warmer winters threaten the state’s agriculture. Farmers in the sunflower state could see their crop yields decline by nearly 24 percent by mid-century and by more than half by 2100.
- Water availability: Climate change is likely to increase the demand for water while making it less available. Higher temperatures will increase evaporation and dry soils, streams and rivers, threatening the viability and productivity of some agricultural and pasture land. Rising temperatures will increase the demand for water and energy in the Great Plains.
- Increased flooding risk due to storms: 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 during floods have become higher in eastern Kansas. Over the next several decades, heavy downpours will account for an increasing fraction of all precipitation, and average precipitation during winter and spring is likely to increase. Both of these factors would further increase flooding.
- Adaptation: Kansas has not developed a climate adaptation plan.
Kansas residents support clean energy and climate regulations
- According to the Yale Map Project on Climate Change Communication 65% of Kansas residents recognize that global warming is happening. The project finds that 70% of residents support regulating carbon dioxide as a pollutant and 81% support funding research into renewable energy sources.
Kansas is a national leader in wind
- Wind: Kansas is one of the top states in the country for potential wind generation and can help the state meet its renewable energy goals while also creating economic development. Currently Kansas ranks 5th in the nation for wind generation, with 4,930 MW of capacity installed. That’s enough to power over 1.3 million homes. In Kansas, wind energy has grown from less than 1% of net electricity generation in 2005 to 24% in 2015, making wind the state’s second largest power provider, after coal.
- Solar: Kansas ranks 40th in solar capacity, with 2.4 MW installed.
- Renewable Portfolio Standard: Kansas has a renewable energy goal requiring utilities to generate or purchase 20% of their electricity from renewable sources by 2020. Kansas rapidly outpaced RPS demand and filled the long-term RPS requirement, just as the state legislature converted the standard to a voluntary goal in 2015.