Climate Variability and Change

Our weather is always changing. We have all probably noticed variability in temperature and the amount of precipitation that falls from one season or year to the next.

Climate is changing

The term climate refers to the long term patterns of temperature, precipitation, and other weather variables. And, climate scientists agree that our climate is also changing.

Measurements from weather stations across our state dating back to 1895 show that Delaware’s mean annual temperature has been rising at a rate of 0.2℉ per decade, or about 2℉ over the last 100 years. Delaware’s precipitation is highly variable with no clear trends on an annual average basis, however there does appear to be an increase in precipitation occurring during our fall months. Trends over the historic record can be used to project how our climate might change in the future. These types of analyses indicate that we in Delaware can and should expect the warming to continue as well increases in the frequency and amount of heavy precipitation events.

UD Cooperative Extension wants to help our clientele understand Delaware’s climate trends and future projections in order to minimize risks and maximize opportunities that may be posed by these changing conditions. As such, it is important for us to hear from you what those risks may be so we understand your needs and can help identify and develop possible adaptation solutions to mitigate the effects of climate change.

Through collaborative partnerships with other academic institutions, local, state, and federal agencies (including the USDA Northeast Climate Hub), and not-for-profit organizations, we aim to identify current and pending climate related activities (research, extension, and implementation projects) in Delaware and share this information widely.

Climate related research and demonstration projects

Climate data and tools

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  • ADAPTING TO SEA LEVEL RISE: ECONOMIC AND ECOLOGIC ROLES FOR SEASHORE MALLOW

    Although seashore mallow has application in inland saline or non-saline situations these thoughts are particularly about problems driven by climate change and sea level rise and its impact on the coastal ecotone. 

  • AN OIL-SEED BIOFUEL MULTI-USE CROP GROWN WITH SALTWATER

    Grow a salt-tolerant, oil-seed, multi-use crop on saline land or dry land that can be irrigated with brackish water or seawater, thus freeing fresh water and high quality soil for food and feed and bringing poor land into production.

  • CHECKLIST FOR PLANT REMOVAL DECISIONS

    During construction or landscaping, you may need to make decisions about existing plants on your property—should they stay or should they go? Sustainable sites promote preservation of healthy, mature specimens that offer benefits such as erosion control and wildlife habitat and do not pose a threat to human safety or the natural environment.

  • COMBATING SOIL COMPACTION

    Soil texture refers to the size of soil particles, with clayey soils having the smallest particles, sandy the largest, and silty, medium. Loamy soils posses a relatively even concentration of the three particle sizes.

  • DELAWARE GARDENER’S GUIDE TO LAWN AND LANDSCAPE FERTILIZERS

     Fertilizers contain one or more essential plant nutrients and can be applied to landscapes to improve plant growth and quality or to correct a nutrient deficiency. There are many fertilizers available to consumers at local lawn and garden centers. 

  • DELAWARE GARDENER’S GUIDE TO SOIL PH

    Soil pH is a measure of soil acidity or alkalinity. On the pH scale a value of 7 is neutral, pH values less than 7 are acidic, and pH values greater than 7 are alkaline. Homeowners and gardeners are interested in soil pH because soil pH directly affects the growth and quality of many landscape plants.

  • DELAWARE GARDENING: CHALLENGE TO NEWCOMERS

    Gardening in Delaware can be challenging. While the state of Delaware is small, it is comprised of two different growing environments—the piedmont and coastal plane. The piedmont covers about 5% of the land area of Delaware and exists on only the northern most corner of the state.

  • DELAWARE LIVABLE LAWNS

    The goal of the Delaware Livable Lawns initiative is simple - reduce fertilizer and pesticide runoff from lawns. Did you know that the EPA considers stormwater runoff from yards, streets, parking lots and other areas to be one of the most significant sources of contamination in our country’s waters?

  • DESIGNING A SUSTAINABLE LANDSCAPE TO SERVE YOUR NEEDS

    Many traditional home landscapes feature vast areas of under-utilized space, such as large turf grass lawns. Sustainable sites feature spaces for human enjoyment, considering opportunities to design outdoor rooms that suit specific needs as well as promote the health of the environment.

  • DOLLAR SPOT OF TURFGRASS

    Dollar spot is an economically important disease of both cool-season and warm-season turfgrass. Due to the persistent nature of this disease, more money is spent on managing dollar spot than any other turfgrass diseases. Dollar spot reduces the aesthetic and playing quality of turfgrass.

     

  • FERTILIZER BASICS

    Proper fertilization will enhance plant growth without polluting the environment. However, misuse of fertilizer can harm the environment and injure landscape plants by causing fertilizer burn to leaves and/or roots.

  • GREEN ROOFS

    A green roof is a specially-engineered rooftop that supports plant life. Green roofs have been utilized in Europe for 30 years and are quickly gaining popularity in the United States.

  • GROUNDCOVER ALTERNATIVES TO TURF GRASS

    Plants that spread over time to cover the ground are referred to as groundcovers. Usually this term denotes low-growing plants, but groundcovers can also refer to taller, spreading shrubs or trees that grow together to create a dense cover of vegetation.

  • HOW TO TAKE A SOIL SAMPLE?

    Soil tests such as those conducted by the University of Delaware Soil Testing Laboratory will help you to develop and maintain more productive soil by providing more information about the fertility status of your soil. This helps you to select the proper lining and fertilization program so that you can obtain optimal growth of lawn, garden and ornamental plants.

  • LAWN MANAGEMENT FOR WATER CONSERVATION

    When designing a landscape, consider alternatives to turf. Use attractive, low-maintenance ground covers, tree and shrub plantings and water-permeable paving. A major benefit of turf is that it will take traffic. Take advantage of that and install turf where it will be used as a play area.

  • MEASUREMENT AND MANAGEMENT OF SOIL PH FOR CROP PRODUCTION IN DELAWARE

    The pH scale ranges from 0 to 14; a pH value of 7 is considered neutral, while pH values less than 7 are acidic, and pH values greater than 7 are alkaline. The pH values of soil usually range from pH 4.0 to pH 8.0; higher or lower pH values are very rare and are normally found only in severely disturbed soils or in soils that have been amended with some type of acidic or alkaline material.

  • MULBERRY WEED (FATOUA VILLOSA)

    Mulberry Weed or hairy crabweed (Fatoua villosa) (Thunberg) Nakai is an invasive exotic Asian species from the Mulberry family (Moraceae).  First reported in Louisiana in 1964 by J.W. 

  • NITROGEN CYCLING IN AGRICULTURE

    Understanding how N reacts in the landscape can help us maximize plant growth and crop yields, while minimizing harmful losses of N to the environment. This document helps agricultural producers understand how N interacts in the environment through the N cycle to guide maintenance and sustainability of agricultural crop production.

  • PERMEABLE VS. IMPERMEABLE SURFACES

    Permeable surfaces (also known as porous or pervious surfaces) allow water to percolate into the soil to filter out pollutants and recharge the water table. Impermeable/impervious surfaces are solid surfaces that don’t allow water to penetrate, forcing it to run off.

  • PHOSPHORUS CYCLING IN AGRICULTURE

    Crops often receive beneficial nutrients such as phosphorus (P) from manure and/or commercial fertilizer applications. However, the Delaware Nutrient Management Law limits the amount of P that can be applied to many agricultural soils in Delaware. 

  • PLANTS FOR A LIVABLE DELAWARE

    This series of brochures were developed to educate Delawareans about the problem of invasive plants in the landscape.  

  • PREVENTING EROSION

    A crucial role of sustainable sites is to reduce erosion, the physical wear of soil and surface rocks by water and wind. Eroded soil, called sediment, is the number one pollutant of our waterways.

  • PROVISIONAL SEASHORE MALLOW PLANTING, GROWING, AND HARVESTING PROTOCOL

    Background - We’ve prepared the seed bed both by tilling and by no-till using herbicides (glyphosate and gramoxone) to kill the weeds. Where we have nonsaline soil, weeds are a problem since we do not have herbicide-ready seashore mallow. 

  • RECOMMENDED SOIL TESTING PROCEDURES FOR THE NORTHEASTERN UNITED STATES

    Northeastern Regional Publication No. 493
    3rd Edition- Agricultural Experiment Stations of Connecticut, Delaware, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, and West Virginia. Prepared by: The Northeast Coordinating Committee for Soil Testing (NECC-1312)

  • RECYCLING LEAVES

    What organic material is full of nutrients, essential for the natural processes of soil rejuvenation, and arrives absolutely free of cost to millions of homeowners every autumn? You guessed it— the colorful liberated leaves of deciduous trees. Recycling leaves offers a great alternative to the environmental and economic expense of removing this resource from your property.

  • SALT MEASUREMENTS AND SOIL CLASSIFICATIONS (SWI SERIES 2)

    Soils have a natural characteristic called the cation exchange capacity (CEC) that allows them to hold (and exchange) cations (e.g., Ca+2 or Na+). 

  • SOILS AND SALTS (SWI SERIES #1)

    Salts are natural components of soil, surface, and groundwater. They are ionic mineral compounds, which means they bonded by electrostatic attractions between cations (+ charge) and anions (- charge). Some salts, like table salt (NaCl), are highly soluble in water, while others, like the mineral CaCO3 (lime), are less soluble.

  • SUCCESSFULLY ESTABLISHING MEADOWS FROM SEED IN DELAWARE AND THE MID-ATLANTIC

    Identifying and understanding the dynamics of the meadow site is crucial for success. Sites should have at least 6 hours of sun each day. Meadows can be found in a variety of soil types and are often adapted to varying levels of soil moisture, but the plants found in these conditions will differ. Select native or adapted plant species that fit the sunlight and soil moisture conditions of the site. 

  • SUSTAINABLE LANDSCAPE MATERIALS AND PRACTICES

    A sustainable site incorporates renewable, local, and low-energy input landscape materials and avoids materials, products, and practices that are harmful to the environment.

  • Sea Level Rise

    All across the world, sea levels are expected to rise in response to climate change. However, for the state of Delaware, sea level rise is especially concerning due to the state’s flat topography, low mean elevation, and heavy reliance on large scale investments in coastal activities, like tourism and infrastructure development.

  • Understanding Climate Change

    In order to understand climate change, one must first familiarize themselves with Earth’s climate system, which is comprised of the five following components...

  • YARD WASTE AND COMPOSTING

    Leave grass clippings on the lawn -If you mow frequently enough (one of the best ways to improve lawn health is to mow frequently), the clippings will just sift into the lawn. They also provide a great source of nitrogen as they decompose, reducing the fertilizer requirement for your lawn by one-third.

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Contact Information
Jennifer Volk
302-730-4000

Additional Resources

This provides a summary of the best available science on the potential impacts of climate change in Delaware, including those to agriculture and our natural resources. Both College of Agriculture and Natural Resources faculty and Cooperative Extension agents and specialists helped to inform and review this report.