A century of precipitation trends in the Mississippi Delta region and implications for agroecosystem management

Author(s): Yaserer, L.; Bingner, R.; Locke, M.

With nutrient-rich soils and a humid climate, the Mississippi Alluvial Plain (i.e. the Delta) within the Lower Mississippi River valley is a productive region for agriculture and a critical contributor to the national agricultural economy. Irrigation plays a large role in the fecundity of this region; however, precipitation patterns also have a significant impact on yield, crop choice, management practices, and ambient water quality. In this study precipitation trends in the Delta for over 100 years are explored. The average annual rainfall from 1901 to 2000 in the Delta was approximately 52 inches. However, precipitation has increased an average of 0.5 inches per decade in the region. Using the NOAA nClimDiv dataset and the network of USDA-NRCS SCAN weather stations, regional precipitation trends for the entire Delta and location-specific patterns are analyzed. Projected precipitation estimates from the CMIP5 dataset (provided by the World Climate Research Program’s Working Group on Coupled Modeling) are used to provide insight on future precipitation patterns and implications for agroecosystem management planning within the Delta.

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