Possible Influence of Global Warming on Climate Variability in the Central United States
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The primary manifestation of climate change may be variability, or the effects of variability, as opposed to climatic shift. During the 1960s, there was a good deal of concern within the academic community and, to some extent, expressed by the public regarding the global cooling trend that had become apparent in several parts of the world. From about 1910 to 1940, the earth experienced a warming trend, followed by an abrupt decrease in global temperature that continued until about 1972. Observations of glacial activity in the Austrian Alps and on Mount McKinley in Alaska revealed a marked glacial retreat up to 1940 and glacial expansion between 1940 and 1972 (Matthews, 1976). The period of apparent global cooling was also a period of diminished interannual variability when over-winter heating requirements, summer heat stress, and midwest crop yields were predictable within reasonable limits of uncertainty. Accumulated climate observations, together with theoretical understanding of global climate processes, may provide a framework for risk analysis of climatic episodes. To some extent, risk can be economically managed, whereas uncertainty cannot be directly quantified. Analysis of historical patterns and climate cycles enables the use of risk management methodology in production and marketing decisions.