Add the continuing strength of the El Nino in the tropical Pacific, and there is an increased risk of drought, agricultural impacts and potential for increased fire and decreased snow pack that will affect water levels, Kluck said.

How is Kansas City preparing?

Over the past 10 years, the city has taken climate protection and mitigation actions to reduce energy use and greenhouse gas emissions.

“Climate change is already manifesting itself in the form of more frequent extreme weather events, and cities are leading the way in identifying risks and vulnerabilities in order to develop climate resiliency strategies and plans,” Murphey said.

In Kansas City, those efforts include:

  • In 2008, the city developed a Climate Protection Plan that identifies potential risks to the area and recommended actions, many of which have been implemented. The city has made energy-efficiency retrofits and installed solar energy on many municipal buildings. To help reduce flooding, the city is expanding the green infrastructure to capture more storm water before it flows into streams and waterways.
  • The city is working with Mid-America Regional Council, Johnson County and Bridging the Gap on the metro area designation by the Environmental Protection Agency as one of 16 Climate Action Champions nationwide. This includes working with federal agencies to help determine the local urban heat island effects and how much the city could mitigate it with a substantial effort to plant trees and increase the urban canopy.
  • The City Council approved an Energy Empowerment Ordinance requiring energy benchmarking for larger commercial buildings.
  • As a member of the Heartland Sustainability Network, the city is working with other municipalities and state climatologists to develop realistic future weather scenarios for Kansas City, MO; Columbia, MO; Lawrence, KS; Iowa City, IA; Lincoln, NE and Oklahoma City, OK.
  • Partnering with the Greater Kansas City Chamber of Commerce and other organizations, the city is implementing the City Energy Project, a three-year initiative of the Natural Resources Defense Council and Institute for Market Transformation to promote energy efficiency improvements in large commercial buildings. Kansas City is one of 10 cities nationwide in the program. Buildings are responsible for more than 50 percent of all carbon emissions in Kansas City and much of the energy consumed in these buildings is wasted.

To look at the potential risks from water shortages, NOAA is sponsoring a Missouri Basin El Nino Winter Impact webinar at 1 p.m., July 30. Designed for decision makers at state and federal agencies, the webinar is open to the public. To sign up, go to the webinar link.

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