Wyoming is getting hotter and drier, according to the latest National Climate Assessment. The report says by mid-century, the number of extremely hot days Wyoming experiences will increase considerably.
Mark Shafer is with the Oklahoma Climatological Survey and was one of the lead authors of the report. He said that the impacts will be wide-ranging, from changes in growing seasons to stress on the region’s water supply.
“A lot of especially rural communities, and where you have elderly populations or tribal communities, are already feeling the extremes, these climate extremes that we have: the heat, the floods, the droughts, all these kinds of things. And as those things are just going to get more common, more prevalent, it’s going to put even more stress, especially on the rural communities.”
That’s because rural economies are often dependent on nearby natural resources, which may be severely impacted. The report does say that Wyoming’s winters may be wetter, but that’s not as great as you might think.
“If you get more coming in the winter and the springtime, if you don’t have the capacity to store that, if reservoirs already get filled, a lot more may have to run downstream, and then it’s not there when it would normally come, a little bit later in the year” said Shafer.
Shafer says that will influence growing seasons and the availability of water for energy extraction techniques like fracking.
Shafer said the report can be used by communities to plan for adaptation.