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BIG EARLY RAINS: Some people who believe in climate change say unusually large rain events in the spring, like those that hit northern Indiana in 2015, are signs of climate change.

Signs of climate change easy to find when you look

Forget about the possible causes of climate change for a moment and just look for evidence of change.

Coverage of climate change by Darrell Boone, Dave Nanda and myself in recent articles has caused others to comment, one way or the other. Some believe climate change is caused by man’s activities and the industrial age; others are still convinced it’s a hoax and there’s a lot of fake science at work.

Where few can disagree, however, is that for whatever reason, there have been unusual weather patterns going back roughly a decade in Indiana. Each year seems to bring extremes that break records — sometimes on the hot side, sometimes on the cold side. Weather and climate aren’t the same thing, but when unusual weather events continue occurring for a long enough period of time, it certainly appears that the climate is changing.

Here are a couple more examples of signs of climate change — one I noticed and the other a friend pointed out.

Wettest months
Nearly three decades ago, I volunteered to grade record sheets for the local Extension office. At the time, every 4-H’er who completed a project was required to turn in a record sheet, and it was graded by volunteers.

One year I graded 4-H weather project record sheets. One question asked the 4-H’er to identify the wettest and driest months of the year. The first record sheet I reviewed said July was the wettest month. I chuckled and marked a big red X on it. Everyone knows July is hot and dry.

It turns out nearly every record sheet got red marks. I became curious and checked the weather stats. Sure enough, July was the wettest month after all! It said so in the 4-H weather manual. I was wrong.

This spring, Indiana Prairie Farmer columnist Andy Eggert with the Indiana State Climate Office did a Weather Wise column on the wettest months. I was sure he would find the wettest month was July. I was wrong again. May has surpassed it, at just over an average of 5 inches of rain. July is now second wettest.

How does this relate to climate change? Those keeping records who believe in the theory of climate change say Indiana is seeing more rain earlier in the spring compared to years ago. And many of those rains are large events. It would make sense that if their theory is correct and climate change is real, a true spring month, such as May, would now be the wettest month of the year.

Haymaking weather
Chris Parker, Morgantown, Ind., bales hay for his cows every year. Three times in the last few years, he’s cut grass hay with his disk mower and baled it 48 hours later, with no conditioning or tedding.

“I did that the first week of June this year,” he says. “It’s because we get more days in the summer with low humidity. Hay dries much faster when it’s sunny and the humidity is low.”

Parker considers this a big deal when he thinks back over time. “I’ve made hay for a long time, and we used to struggle to get it dry,” he says. “Typically, it was because it was humid, and hay just didn’t dry as fast.”

For Parker, this is another indication of climate change. No, the shift in the wettest month of the year and the ability to make hay faster don’t prove climate change is real by themselves. But they’re two more observations that mean it may not be a complete hoax after all.

Comments? Email tom.bechman@farmprogress.com.

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