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West Texas A&M Research Shows High Plains' Climate Changing

A West Texas A&M professor released a study this spring with a big message about a changing climate on the High Plains.
It's no secret the High Plains can get hot and dry. Dr. Bob Stewart, a professor of agriculture at West Texas A&M looked at climate and precipitation data from 1895 through 2013.

"There's no question that we've become a warmer region than we were a number of years ago," Stewart said. 

The graphical data Stewart compiled shows not only that our climate appears to be trending warmer but also that warmer temperatures directly correlate to less precipitation.

According to the data, Stewart tells us, temperatures swing up in the 30s during the Dust Bowl. Then temperatures go back down but swing up again in the 50s.

Then in 80s temperatures started going up again and haven't dipped back down.

"The last three years have been drier than any three year period," Stewart said.

Stewart says it means changes for the agriculture industry.

"Ever since the Dust Bowl this area has focused on changing the environment with irrigation. Now our focus has got to be on adapting to the environment," Stewart said. 

We consulted with a David Brown, the Regional Climate Services Director and a climatologist from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration about this data.

"The study is very much consistent with what we're seeing across Texas and really nationally and even globally, and that is that on average the termperatures have been getting warmer. The increasing temperatures in West Texas and the Texas Panhandle can be attributed to the same driver that is influencing rising temperatures elsewhere in the region and the United States and that is increased greenhouse gas forcing of warming tempertaures," Brown said.

As for Stewart, he says, no matter what the cause, people need to pay attention.

"If you're farming out there, it doesn't really matter what caused it. You've got to deal with it as it is," Stewart said.

And for now data shows the Panhandle is getting warmer.


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