Climate Assessment spells peril for Treasure State
According to the 2017 Montana Climate Assessment, the most comprehensive to date, the annual average daily maximum temperature has risen by 3 degrees F over the last 70 years, with temperatures rising another 10 degrees F by the end of the century. As a result, skiers, anglers and farmers can expect less snowpack, spelling an increase in forest fires, dramatically lowered water tables and a spike in severe droughts. Temperatures will continue to rise under a best-case scenario, a predicted 5.6 F, should the world populous manage to contain carbon emission levels, and worst-case scenario, 9.8 F increase, should carbon levels continue to rise. Earlier melts will mean less water in the late summers, which will in turn force the population to turn to groundwater, while snow-reliant industries take a hit. Forest fires will increase in drier areas and bark beetle outbreaks will ramp in intensity. Agriculture will see less irrigable water and increases in weeds, pests and disease, the report said. And ranchers will need to find additional ways to get their stock water in the face of dehydration and overheating.