Scientists have developed different models representing changes to our climate based on different emissions scenarios and how well, or not, we do on that front. According to the NOAA Climatic Data Center, historical average temperature for Arkansas ranged from 58 to 63 degrees between 1895 and 2013. The Climate Wizard, an interactive map produced by The Nature Conservancy, examines projections in temperature based on sixteen different models and three different greenhouse gas emission scenarios throughout the United States. The average temperature increase for Northwest Arkansas based on averages of these models and scenarios is approximately seven degrees Fahrenheit by the end of the century.
This graphic from EPA’s report Climate Change Impacts Southeast and Caribbean shows that the number of days reaching temperatures over 95°F in the Southeast is projected to increase during this century. This graph compares historic patterns from 1971-2000 to future estimates for 2041-2070 under a scenario with high greenhouse gas emissions. The predicted increase in number of days over 95 degrees in Northwest Arkansas ranges from 20-40 depending where you are in the region.
The National Climate Assessment projected water availability to decrease in availability for 2010-2060 with the western portion of the Southeast region, including Northwest Arkansas, experiencing the largest reduction in water availability.The data indicates our water availability will likely decrease 5-6.4% from climate change impacts.
In addition to reduction from increased evaporation with higher temperatures and changes in precipitation, our region faces additional stress in water supply with increased urbanization and potential increases in irrigation needs from local farmers. The report also indicates that our region is expected to experience an increase in extreme weather events, particularly prolonged drought conditions and heavy flooding.