Understanding and Assessing Climate Change: Implications for Nebraska

From the University of Nebraska-Lincoln this 2014 report was designed to inform Nebraska policy makers, natural resource managers, and the public of past, current, and future climate and the implications of climate change on policy and management. This report summarizes key messages from the U.S. Third National Climate Assessment Report (NCA 2014) and relates them to climatic changes and impacts in Nebraska. Through commentaries from experts in the field, the report discusses the climate-related issues each sector faces, and recommends adaptation strategies to be considered.

The report thoroughly reviews climate science foundations for analyzing observed global climate changes. Chapter 5 details the projected future changes to global, national, and regional/local climates of the Great Plains and Nebraska. An explanation of climate models and their projections is provided in chapter 6 along with a discussion of the need for downscaled models to better inform regional and local areas for adaptation purposes.

Chapter 7 details the impacts of climate change in Nebraska to the following sectors:

  • Water resources
  • Energy supply and use
  • Agriculture
  • Forestry
  • Human health
  • Ecosystems
  • Urban systems, infrastructure, vulnerability
  • Rural communities
  • Insurance industry

Expert commentaries, based on practical experience in each of these sectors, provide Nebraska-specific responses to the information contained in the NCA 2014. Observed and projected climate change impacts for Nebraska are discussed, highlighting areas related to each sector where adaptation preparedness and planning should focus. Some of the recommendations include to:

  • develop more efficient irrigation practices and drought-tolerant crops in agriculture
  • practice and improve integrated water quantity and quality management across scales
  • expand the scope of conservation strategies to the scale of whole ecosystems

Specific adaptation strategies are suggested for some sectors such as to:

  • diversify crop rotations to increase efficiency of nutrient and water use
  • thin coniferous forests to reduce competition for water and decrease the risk of catastrophic wildfire
  • restore and maintain connectivity between habitats to allow species to shift their range
  • reconnect the floodplain to the river to reduce flood risks

The commentaries are a starting point for Nebraska stakeholder engagement in adaptation planning. The report also points to Georgetown Climate Center's State Adaptation Tracker to offer guidance in the state-level adaptation process.

A summary of the report is provided at the end, focusing on key messages for the agriculture sector considered “the backbone of Nebraska’s economy.” The priority takeaway is that knowledge of the projected impacts and their implications can help identify adaptation actions for Nebraska.


Publication Date: September 2014

Authors or Affiliated Users:

  • Deborah Bathke
  • Robert Oglesby
  • Clinton Rowe
  • Donald Wilhite

Related Organizations:

  • University of Nebraska


Resource Category:

Resource Types:

  • Assessment

States Affected:


  • Air temperature
  • Precipitation changes

Go To Resource