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Sun May 6, 2018, 01:13 AM

A North American Climate Boundary Has Shifted 140 Miles East Due to Global Warming

Last edited Sun May 6, 2018, 06:58 PM - Edit history (2)

https://e360.yale.edu/digest/a-north-american-climate-boundary-has-shifted-140-miles-east-due-to-global-warming

A North American Climate Boundary Has Shifted 140 Miles East Due to Global Warming
April 11, 2018

In the late 1800s, geologist and explorer John Wesley Powell first described a clear boundary running longitudinally through North America along the 100th meridian west that visibly separated the humid eastern part of the continent from the more arid western plains. Now, 140 years later, scientists have confirmed that such a sharp climatic boundary exists and that it is slowly shifting east due to climate change — a change that scientists say could have significant implications on farming in the region.

The new research, published in a pair of studies in the journal Earth Interactions late last month, found the divide is created by three factors: the Rocky Mountains stopping moisture from the Pacific Ocean reaching farther inland, Atlantic winter storms bringing moisture to the eastern half of the U.S., and moisture from the Gulf of Mexico moving north and curving eastward during the summer months. The only other clear, straight divide between humid and arid areas on the globe is the one separating the Sahara Desert from the rest of Africa, climate scientist Richard Seager of Columbia University, lead author of the new papers, said in a statement.

Seager and his colleagues wanted to study the boundary as an example of “psychogeography” — how environmental conditions affect human decisions. “Powell talked eloquently about the 100th meridian, and this concept of a boundary line has stayed with us down to the current day,” said Seager. “We wanted to ask whether there really is such a divide, and whether it’s influenced human settlement.”

The divide cuts through eastern Mexico, Texas, Oklahoma, Kansas, Nebraska, the Dakotas, and the Canadian province of Manitoba. West of the 100th meridian, population density declines and development is sparse, and farms are larger and primarily depend on arid-resistant crops like wheat. To the more humid east, more people and infrastructure exist. Farms are smaller and 70 percent of the harvested crop is moisture-loving corn.

Studying rainfall and temperature data since 1980, Seager and his colleagues found this climatic boundary has already shifted east about 140 miles so that it now sits closer to the 98th meridian. And it will continue to move east as warming global temperatures increase evaporation from the soil and change precipitation patterns, they concluded.


Climate change has moved the 100th meridian west climatic divide from its historical position (solid line) 140 miles eastward (dotted line) in recent decades. Modified from Seager et al. Earth Interactions, 2018

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https://www.earthmagazine.org/article/dividing-line-past-present-and-future-100th-meridian
Dividing line: The past, present and future of the 100th Meridian


When John Wesley Powell first noted the dividing line between the humid East and the dry West as running along the 100th meridian, his goal was to persuade the federal government to bear in mind the West’s aridity when planning for settlement and development in the western territories. He created this map delineating western watersheds in 1890, and proposed that each one be designated a “commonwealth” for the purpose of regulating its water usage, which would remain under federal control. Credit: U.S. Geological Survey.

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Reply A North American Climate Boundary Has Shifted 140 Miles East Due to Global Warming (Original post)
dalton99a May 2018 OP
SunSeeker May 2018 #1
SWBTATTReg May 2018 #2
modrepub May 2018 #3
Nitram May 2018 #4
Uncle Joe May 2018 #5
BigmanPigman May 2018 #6

Response to dalton99a (Original post)

Sun May 6, 2018, 03:09 AM

1. China stopped buying the Midwest's soybeans...

...and now they're turning into a desert.

More red state disasters caused/made worse by Trump.

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Response to dalton99a (Original post)

Sun May 6, 2018, 05:54 AM

2. Thanks for posting! nt

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Response to dalton99a (Original post)

Sun May 6, 2018, 06:00 AM

3. Latest Drought Map



Good bit of that shifted area with pretty severe drought.

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Response to dalton99a (Original post)

Sun May 6, 2018, 12:48 PM

4. Bad news.

This is the DU member formerly known as Nitram.

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Response to dalton99a (Original post)

Sun May 6, 2018, 04:40 PM

5. Kicked and recommended.




Thanks for the thread, dalton.

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Response to dalton99a (Original post)

Sun May 6, 2018, 06:50 PM

6. It has shifted 140 miles since 1980.

I wonder what the percentage increase is expected with the rapid climate changes from the past 15 years is for the next 38 years? Since climate change is increasing so fast and our govt and admin is almost forcing it to continue at the same rate than this will be moving 140 miles East every 10 years I would expect. This effects the country's population, economy, future pollution, natural disasters, infrastructure, plants and animals lives, urban growth and decay, migration, political agendas, insects and diseases, etc. on top of the farms and products mentioned in the article.

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