A Historical Perspective on Nebraska’s Variable and Changing Climate


Nebraska is situated at the intersection of the northern and southern Great Plains, exhibiting a dramatic longitudinal gradient for precipitation and humidity, and benefiting from groundwater resources. The continental climate is highly variable temporally both for temperature and precipitation. Our assessment of long-term meteorological observations shows that over the last century the annual average temperature in Nebraska has warmed approximately 0.6°C, which is similar to the increase in the global average temperature over the same time period. Furthermore, we found minimum temperatures have warmed more than maximum temperatures, and winter and spring show the strongest warming. We found no significant long-term trend in annual precipitation, but seasonal variations exist, namely with wetter springs and falls, and drier winters and summers. The number of days having temperature extremes (both hot and cold) has decreased over time. We found an overall increase in growing season length.