Natural Resources, School of


Date of this Version



Published in International Journal of Climatology 36 (2016), pp. 517–525. doi: 10.1002/joc.4354


Copyright © 2015 Royal Meteorological Society; published by John Wiley & Sons. Used by permission.


Since late 1970s, climate warming has been widely recognized. In the Midwest, farmers cannot rely on the normal calendar anymore, and it has become critically necessary to evaluate the most recent climate trends relative to growing season in order to conduct adaptation efforts for agriculture. Based on the homogenized historical monthly temperature and precipitation records during the period of 1980–2013 from 302 observing stations in the 12 Midwestern US states, we investigate the climate trends on four timescales: monthly, early growing season, late growing season, and the entire growing season. The climate metrics include maximum temperature, minimum temperature, average temperature, diurnal temperature range, and precipitation. Nonparametric Sen’s Slope together with the nonparametric Mann–Kendall test is used to estimate the decadal trend and to detect the statistical significance. The results show that growing season average temperature has increased at a rate of 0.15 °C decade–1 over the Midwest United States. Within the growing season, minimum temperature is increasing faster in the early growing season, especially in June, while maximum temperature is increasing faster in the late growing season, especially in September. Spatially, statistically significant (p ≤ 0.05) growing season warming is more focused in the southern part of the region in the early growing season but in the northern part of the region in the late growing season. Over the Midwest, dominant trends in diurnal temperature range are decreasing during most months, with the exception of September. The majority of the locations show increasing trends in growing season precipitation, yet few are statistically significant. Furthermore, precipitation has been increasing in the early growing season but decreasing in the late growing season. This within-season reversing trend in precipitation is found in 8 of 12 Corn Belt states: Illinois, Iowa, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, and Wisconsin.