Climate Change in Missouri

Missouri is a geographically and culturally diverse state, ranging from rural agricultural regions to the urban population centers of Kansas City and St. Louis. Each eco-region will be uniquely impacted by projected climate change and extreme weather events, and thus, opportunities to engage in evidence-based policy, program, and practice discussions vary across the state. Eco-regions are based on realized and projected challenges, potential partnerships, and ongoing efforts.

Statewide Challenges

Due to climate change, Missouri has experienced and increase in average annual temperature and precipitation over the last half century. However, shifting rainfall patterns mean that summer droughts are likely to occur more frequently and with greater severity in the coming decades.

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Big River Regions

The National Climate Assessment projects that extreme weather events in the Missouri and Mississippi River basins will lead to increased flooding along the major rivers and their tributaries in Missouri. The flooding is exacerbated by outdated infrastructure, water management conflicts between local, state, and federal regulators, and floodplain development and agricultural practices that reduce water infiltration.

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Rural Agricultural Areas

Agricultural producers are increasingly dealing with the effects of extreme weather, flooding, and drought throughout Missouri. These environmental challenges are exacerbated by low commodity prices, trade barriers, and a general lack of resources in rural communities.

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Rural Forested Areas

Many of the predominantly forested counties in Missouri are composed of isolated rural communities that lack access to basic resources, such as medical care. Many of these communities are supported by the tourism industry, but scenic waterways may be threatened by extreme weather events exacerbated by climate change.

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Urban Areas

Urban and suburban areas in Missouri face several unique challenges compared to rural communities. Increased temperatures associated with climate change are exacerbating effects of urban heat islands, particularly in Kansas City and St. Louis. Social justice related to climate change is also a challenge in urban areas where increased temperatures, food security, and air pollution disproportionately affect low-income, minority neighborhoods.

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