Useful to Usable                             Nov 2012
Transforming Climate Variability and Change Information
for Cereal Crop Producers in the North Central Regionbacktop
Progress Timeline  |  Catching Up  |  Reaching Out 
Climate Quiz  |  Upcoming Events
Greetings from the Project Director


Dear Friends,

Welcome to the first edition of the U2U Quarterly Newsletter. We hope this resource will be a convenient way to keep you informed of research findings, upcoming events, valuable agroclimate tools, and other important project updates. Please feel welcome to share this newsletter with interested friends and colleagues. They can join our mailing list by clicking here.

While the weather begins to cool down, the U2U project continues to heat up! We are about a year and a half into our five year project and exciting new results from our modeling and survey work are becoming available. Many team members are working on publications and attending professional conferences, so be sure to read upcoming newsletters for more details. 


Thanks for your interest in our project!




Dr. Linda Stalker Prokopy

U2U Project Director

U2U Progress Timeline
The U2U team has identified 5 objectives that will help us improve the usability of decision tools and increase farm resilience to climate variability. The graphic to your right will be a recurring feature of our newsletter. It provides an overview of tasks and a snapshot of where we are in the process. Click on the image to download a full-size PDF. 

Quarterly Progress Report

Work is currently underway on Objectives 1-3. Our modeling group is investigating the impacts of climate and management strategies on crop production and profitability (Objective 1). Our social science group is improving our understanding of farmers' and advisors' climate information needs and climate change beliefs (Objective 2). We are now working to integrate these findings as we develop our first prototype decision tools for the North Central U.S. (Objective 3). 

Our one-page Accomplishment Summary provides additional information on U2U progress between April 2011 - Sept 2012 and can be downloaded here

Catching Up

Decision Support Resources Now Available on AgClimate4U.org


The U2U team is developing enhanced decision support tools for agricultural producers and advisors in the Corn Belt, but we also realize some valuable information is already out there. We have started compiling these trusted climate and agronomic resources on our website, available directly at http://drinet.hubzero.org/u2utools

Also, thanks to our collaborators at the National Drought Mitigation Center and the High Plains Regional Climate Center, we are now providing customized map views of prominent climate and drought products for the Corn Belt. These unique map views are available exclusively on the U2U website.

Reaching Out

ASA-CSSA-SSSA Annual Meeting

Nine U2U team members participated in a special session at the ASA-CSSA-SSSA International Annual Meeting in Cincinnati, Ohio on October 23, 2012. Findings from ongoing crop modeling research were presented along with results from our recent farmer and advisor climate needs assessment surveys. Presentation recordings will soon be available on the conference website.

Our session was highlighted in a recent article by DTN Ag Policy Editor, Chris Clayton, published 10/24/2012. Click here to read the article. 

North Central Region SARE Carbon, Energy, and Climate Conference 

Jeff Andresen, Lois Wright Morton, Linda Prokopy, and Eugene Takle spoke about climate change and agricultural issues at the North Central Region SARE Carbon, Energy, and Climate Conference. This event at Michigan State University's Kellogg Biological Station (Sept 26-28, 2012) kicked off a two-year professional development and training initiative around climate and energy issues by the North Central Region SARE (Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education) program. 


New Article in Nature Climate Change
U2U project partner Maria Carmen Lemos contributed to a recent article in Nature Climate Change. Check out the abstract below for details and a link to the full article. 

Lemos, M.C., C. Kirchhoff and V. Ramparasad (2012). Narrowing the Climate Information Usability Gap. Nature Climate Change, vol. 2, issue 11, pages 789-94


Climate-change-related risks pose serious threats to the management  of a wide range of social, economic and ecological systems. Managing  these risks requires knowledge-intensive adaptive management and  policy-making actively informed by scientific knowledge, especially climate science. However, potentially useful climate information often goes unused. This suggests a gap between what scientists understand as useful information and what users recognize as usable in their decision-making. We propose a dynamic conceptual model to address this gap and highlight strategies to move information from useful to usable to reduce climate-related risks. Read more.

Climate Quiz

U2U November Climate Quiz

Question #1: In the Lower 48, how many states experienced one of their top 5 warmest Julys on record in 2012? 

Question #2: Under higher emissions scenarios it is likely that annual average precipitation across the North Central U.S. will increase by the end of this century. However, scientists expect precipitation trends to vary by season. Current models predict that summer precipitation in this region could:  

Question 1: National Climatic Data Center (2012), 
Question 2: Global Climate Change Impacts in the United States (2009), 
Upcoming Events

Midwest and Great Plains Drought Update Webinar

Nov. 15, 2012 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. Visit the HPRCC or MRCC websites to access past webinars. 


Register here.

Jan. 6-10, 2013 Austin, TX


Several U2U researchers will be presenting project information and social science research results at the 93rd AMS Annual Meeting. Look for our talks during the Eighth Symposium on Policy and Socio-Economic Research, the 20th Conference on Applied Climatology, and at the 12th Annual AMS Student Conference. The year's meeting theme is "Taking Predictions to the Next Level: Expanding Beyond Today's Weather, Water, and Climate Forecasting and Projections."  


Visit the AMS website
About Us: Useful 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.