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Department of Agronomy

Kansas State University

1712 Claflin Rd.

2004 Throckmorton PSC

Manhatan, KS 66506



Extension Agronomy

Kansas climate basics: Part 2 -- Temperature trends 1895-2015

(Editor’s note: The following article is one in a series of articles in the Agronomy eUpdate that examines the historical record of temperature and precipitation in Kansas. The methods used to do this analysis of temperature trends in Kansas is explained in the introductory article in this series, from eUpdate No. 571, May 20, 2016. – Steve Watson)


Temperature trends in Kansas

Air temperatures over last decade have been among of the warmest on record for Kansas, with the only exception being the extreme heat of 1930s “Dust Bowl” era (Fig. 1, bottom panel). The state-wide annual average temperature varied from a low of 52.3 degrees F in 1912 to a high of 58.8 degrees F in 2012. Such a 6.5 degrees F swing of temperatures is one of factors that makes the Kansas agricultural economy vulnerable to climate changes.

One pronounced observation over last 121 years was that the minimum temperatures (nighttime temperatures) have warmed much more than the daily maximum temperatures. There is no statistically significant trend in maximum temperatures over last 121 years. However, there is a significant warming rate in minimum temperatures of 0.138 ± 0.06 degrees F per decade. The Kansas average temperature increase, 0.105 ± 0.06 degrees F per decade, was mainly driven by the rise in minimum temperatures.

Figure 1. Kansas monthly temperature anomaly time series over 1895 to 2015: maximum temperatures (top panel); minimum temperatures (middle panel); and average temperatures (bottom panel). The base period used is 1980 to 2010 and a 13-point Gaussian filter was used to smooth the data. When trends are statistically significant the trend rates are displayed. All adjusted p values are shown.


Xiaomao Lin, State Climatologist, Department of Agronomy

John Harrington Jr., Department of Geography

Ignacio Ciampitti, Crop Production and Cropping Systems Specialist