From: The University of Kansas
Published March 29, 2017 01:14 PM

"Weather whiplash" triggered by changing climate will degrade Midwest's drinking water, researcher says

One consequence of global climate change is the likelihood of more extreme seesawing between drought and flood, a phenomenon dubbed “weather whiplash.”

Now, researchers at the University of Kansas have published findings in the journal Biogeochemistry showing weather whiplash in the American Midwest’s agricultural regions will drive the deterioration of water quality, forcing municipalities to seek costly remedies to provide safe drinking water to residents.

“As rainfall patterns change with climate change, it’s predicted there will be more times of drought, and more times of excessive rainfall — really big storms,” said Terry Loecke, assistant professor of environmental studies at the University of Kansas and lead author of the new investigation.

Loecke and co-author Amy Burgin, associate professor of environmental studies, said the extreme flux between drought and rainfall changes the storage of nutrients in the agricultural landscape — nitrogen used in fertilizing farms most importantly.

Read more at The University of Kansas

Image: Researcher Terry Loecke samples a tributary that feeds municipal water supplies for levels of nitrate caused by agricultural fertilizers. Nitrate could cause a spike in drinking water prices for municipalities throughout the Midwest. (Credit: KU News Service)

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