As the world’s leading historical climatologist, Evelyn Browning-Garriss will share with farmers what current world weather patterns and trends mean for their operations at the Indiana Livestock, Forage and Grain Forum on February 11 in Indianapolis.
“Weather feels so random, but it isn’t random,” said Browning-Garriss, who is often called the Weather Whisperer. “There are large and small (weather) patterns, and with today’s technology, we are getting a better idea of what these patterns mean for productivity.”
The forum takes place at the JW Marriott in downtown Indianapolis. Registration for the one-day event is $50 and includes breakfast, lunch, and access to trade show exhibits. Pre-registration is required at www.indianasoybean.com/forum.
During her morning talk at the forum, Browning-Garriss will outline the factors shaping the global climate long term, a combination of things like solar energy, volcanoes, incoming radiation, and huge ocean patterns, which play an integral role in the earth’s climate. Since more than 70 percent of the earth’s surface is ocean, they absorb and store most of the heat.
“When it comes to global climate, the oceans are not the elephant in the room — they are the room,” said Browning-Garriss. “One of the things agricultural producers are most surprised to learn is that the weather in this part of the world is controlled by the Atlantic, and by monitoring the Atlantic they can forecast up to three months ahead of time when they are going to start having problems from their weather.”
Browning-Garriss says her research literally follows the flow of energy from the sky to the earth to the ocean and land. She is able to look at today’s weather patterns and compare those patterns to an enormous database of historical data and retrieve information on what happened historically weather-wise in the five most similar years to the current conditions.
For example, Browning-Garriss says that 2006 was a tipping point year for a roughly 50-year weather cycle in the Pacific, which in turn has a massive impact on global precipitation patterns and the ability of farmers worldwide to produce enough food.
“We are going to be showing producers where precipitation patterns have moved and what the trends are,” said Browning-Garriss. “We are now going through a time phase very similar to what we saw in the 1950s. During that time, America was prosperous, but it was not an easy time to be a farmer because there were a large number of droughts.”
One advantage farmers have is that they usually have good long-term memories, Browning-Garriss said, and if they look back at what things were like weather-wise in the 1950s, they can get a good estimate of some of the risks and potentials they may currently be facing.
“American and European farmers are going to have an advantage in the world markets because of our infrastructure,” she said. “And farmers now have the equipment on their computers to monitor climate changes and trends and manage their risks and opportunities. NASA is telling us that satellites can look at plant health in the field and give us a warning time of up to one month for potential problems, and the oceans can give us up to a three month warning.”
This is also a good time to evaluate the health of our infrastructure, said Browning-Garriss. The good news is that much of our infrastructure was developed in the 1950s and is built to handle current weather trends, but much of that infrastructure has deteriorated in the last 30-40 years when weather patterns did not make that infrastructure as vital.
For example, recent flooding in Ohio was a result of broken levies that had deteriorated, not the flooding of the actual rivers themselves. Similarly, New York had not seen storms like Hurricane Sandy for 50 years, and their infrastructure was not in shape to deal with the storm.
In addition to her morning presentation, Browning-Garriss will also be the featured speaker during the Soybean/Corn afternoon breakout session. The session will primarily focus on questions and answers from the audience and allow her to go into more detail on meeting the specific needs and interests of the attendees.
A complete agenda for the Indiana Livestock, Forage and Grain Forum can be found online at www.indianasoybean.com/forum.
The forum is organized by several Indiana agricultural groups, including Indiana Beef Cattle Association, Indiana Board of Animal Health, Indiana Corn Growers Association, Indiana Corn Marketing Council, Indiana Dairy Producers, Indiana Farm Bureau, Indiana Forage Council, Indiana Horse Council, Indiana Pork, Indiana Soybean Alliance, Indiana State Department of Agriculture, Milk Promotion Services of Indiana, Inc., and Purdue Extension.
Source: Indiana Soybean Alliance