Useful to Usable                             Feb 2013
Transforming Climate Variability and Change Information
for Cereal Crop Producers in the North Central Regionbacktop
Catching Up  |  Reaching Out |  Researcher Spotlight
 Climate Quiz |  Upcoming Events
Greetings from the Project Director

Dear Friends,

It's hard to believe that another busy quarter has come and gone! With springtime now rapidly approaching, I'm sure many of you are closely watching the weather in hopes of favorable conditions for the upcoming growing season. We too have our eyes to the sky, but we are also looking to the past to see how historical weather and crop conditions might inform farm management choices. In fact, we now have prototype tools under development that will improve access to historical records and provide enhanced decision support throughout the growing season. 

Building decision tools will be a major theme for the U2U project throughout the upcoming calendar year. As we work with our regional stakeholders to move prototype ideas into production we will be sure to provide you with updates through our newsletter and on our website.


Thanks for your continued interest in our project!




Dr. Linda Stalker Prokopy, U2U Project Director

Catching Up
V2 Our progress timeline is a great way to stay up to date on upcoming project milestones. Click on the graphic to download a full-size PDF.  


Quarterly Progress Report

Throughout the last quarter, the U2U team continued to make progress on crop and climate modeling research and the first round of focus groups were completed with agricultural producers and advisors in Nebraska and Indiana. A new handout featuring selected research highlights from Objectives 1 and 2 can be downloaded here


Additionally, two prototype decision tools are in the early stages of development. Our Climate and Crop Data Portal (CCDP) will provide easy access to historical climate and crop yield data across the Corn Belt, and our Growing Degree Days (GDD) Tool will connect historical GDD data with critical 

corn development information for enhanced decision support. 

Watch for updates on our website and in upcoming newsletters! 

Reaching Out


93rd American Meteorological Society Annual Meeting 

Amber Mase, Linda Prokopy, Melissa Widhalm, and Adam Wilke presented U2U research findings and information at the 93rd AMS Annual Meeting in Austin, TX January 6-10, 2013. Recordings of these presentations are available online.


Congratulations to Amber Mase for placing 2nd in the AMS Student Poster Competition! 


  2012 American Geophysical Union Fall Meeting


Atul Jain, Xing Liu, Dev Niyogi, and Yang Song presented recent crop modeling results at the 2012 AGU Fall Meeting December 3-7, 2012 in San Francisco, California. Jain and Song reported on the impacts of climate variability and change on corn and soybean productivity in two Midwestern states based on the ISAM modeling system. Liu and Niyogi presented historical yield estimations based on the Hybrid-Maize model using various weather datasets. 

Two chapters in the new book Climate Change in the Midwest: Impacts, Risks, Vulnerability, and Adaptation


U2U co-PIs Jeff Andresen and Dev Niyogi are both lead authors on two chapters in a newly released book on Midwestern climate change (ed. S.C. Pryor). Book details are available on the Indiana University Press website and full citations for these chapters are listed below. 


Andresen, J., G. Alagarswamy, G. Guentchev, K. Piromsopa, A. Pollyea, G. Soter, J. Van Ravensway, and J. Winkler. 2013. "Potential Future Impacts of Climate on Row Crop Production in the Great Lakes Region." In Climate Change in the Midwest: Impacts, Risks, Vulnerability, and Adaptation. Bloomington, IN: Indiana University Press

Niyogi, D., and V. Mishra. 2013. "Climate - Agriculture Vulnerability 
Assessment for the Midwestern United States." In Climate Change in the 
Midwest: Impacts, Risks, Vulnerability, and Adaptation. Bloomington, IN: 
Indiana University Press.

Forthcoming article in Climate Research

U2U investigators Benjamin Gramig and Linda Prokopy have a forthcoming article in Climate Research entitled "Farmer beliefs about climate change and carbon sequestration incentives."



Agricultural land management practices are frequently discussed in the context of domestic and international policies to mitigate and adapt to future climate change. Agriculture has not been one of the economic sectors covered by proposed or enacted greenhouse gas emissions limits; thus, agriculture has been the subject of much research on its technical and economic potential to mitigate climate change impacts. We report the results of a survey of Indiana row crop farmers' (n=724) beliefs about climate change, the effect of climate change on their farm operation, and the best way to create incentives for farmers to store more  

carbon in agricultural soils. Full abstract. 

New article in Climatic Change

Seven U2U team members are contributing authors on a new publication in Climatic Change entitled "Climate change beliefs, concerns, and attitudes toward adaptation and mitigation among farmers in the Midwestern United States." An early online release of this article is available here. This article features results from an unprecedented survey of corn producers that was conducted in partnership with the USDA-funded project SustainableCorn.org


Abstract: A February 2012 survey of almost 5,000 farmers across a region of the U.S. that produces more than half of the nation's corn and soybean revealed that 66 % of farmers believed climate change is occurring (8 % mostly anthropogenic, 33 % equally human and natural, 25 % mostly natural), while 31 % were uncertain and 3.5 % did not believe that climate change is occurring. Results of initial analyses indicate that farmers' beliefs about climate change and its causes vary considerably, and the relationships between those beliefs, concern about the potential impacts 
of climate change, and attitudes toward adaptive and mitigative action 
differ in systematic ways. Full article. 

New article in Weather, Climate, and Society

Thirteen U2U team members have authored a new publication in Weather, Climate, and Society entitled "Agricultural Advisors: A Receptive Audience for Weather and Climate Information?" An early online release of this article is available here.


Abstract: As the climate in the Midwestern United States becomes increasingly variable due to global climate change, it is critical to provide tools to the agricultural community to ensure adaptability and profitability of agricultural cropping systems. When used by farmers and their advisors, agricultural decision support tools can reduce uncertainty and risks in the planning, operation, and management decisions of the farm enterprise. Agricultural advisors have historically played a key role in providing information and guidance in these decisions. However, little is known about what these advisors know or think about weather and 

climate information and their willingness to incorporate this type of 

information into their advice to farmers. In this exploratory study, a diverse 

set of professionals who advise corn growers, including government, 

non-profit, for-profit and Extension personnel, were surveyed in four states 

in the Midwestern Corn Belt. Full article.

Researcher Spotlight

Stuart Carlton is a postdoctoral researcher working under the mentorship of Dr. Linda Prokopy at Purdue University. Stuart recently completed his Ph.D. at the University of Florida's School of Natural Resources & Environment, where he worked with Dr. Susan Jacobson on social dimensions of climate change in coastal Florida. His research interests include environmental risk perception and communication, mass media coverage of science controversies, and public perception of environmental hazards.


Stuart joined the U2U project in January 2013. His primary responsibilities include coordinating focus  groups, conducting surveys, manuscript development, and analyzing 

social science research  findings to  inform decision support 

tool development. In his spare time, Stuart enjoys spending 

time with his family, taking photographs, and cheering for his  

beloved New Orleans Saints.

Climate Quiz

February Climate Quiz

Question #1: Over the past 50 years how much have average U.S. temperatures increased?

Question #2: In a high emissions scenario, by the end of the century the U.S. growing season is predicted to lengthen by as much as:

Question 1: Global Climate Change Impacts in the United States - http://downloads.globalchange.gov/usimpacts/pdfs/20page-highlights-brochure.pdf
Question 2: Climate Change and Agriculture in the United States (2013) -
Upcoming Events

Climate-Smart Agriculture: Global Science Conference

March 20-22, 2013 

University of California, Davis

Dr. Linda Prokopy will give an invited presentation on farmer decision making under climate change and barriers to adoption of climate smart agricultural practices at the Second Climate-Smart Agriculture (CSA) Global Science Conference. This event builds on the outcomes of the 2011 CSA conference and will focus on three main themes: farm and food systems, landscape and regional issues, and the integrative and transformative institutional and policy aspects that will bridge across scales to link science and practice to ensure food security, poverty alleviation and multiple ecosystem services.  


More information 

Midwest and Great Plains Drought Update Webinar

March 21, 2013 2 PM (EST)


The NOAA Central Region office, along with key regional partners (National Drought Mitigation Center, State Climatologists, USDA and USFWS) are holding monthly webinars on the 3rd Thursday of each month to improve communication about regional drought and climate conditions, impacts, and outlooks. Information on wildfires, streamflow, snowpack and other climate variables are discussed.  In addition, outlook information from official NOAA forecasts is detailed.  These webinars are intended for a broad range of participants including local and state government, federal agencies, NGOs, tribes, academics, students and private interests. 


About UsUseful to Usable (U2U) is a multi-institution research and extension project focused on improving the resilience and profitability of farms in the North Central U.S. amid a more variable and changing climate. Through the development and dissemination of decision support tools, resource materials, and training, we strive to transform existing climate information into actionable knowledge for more effective decision making.
CONTACT US:   Melissa Widhalm, Project Manager                                     Click here to join our mailing list. 

This project is supported by Agriculture and Food Research Initiative Competitive Grant no. 2011-68002-30220 from the USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture.