Climate Change

Michael Zimny / SDPB

Parts of northwest South Dakota look much the same today as they did hundreds of years ago, with breathtaking expanses of grass, plains, buttes and sky.

Within just four counties in South Dakota’s northwest corner, there are nearly 9,000 square miles of virgin sod.

Globally, however, about a fifth of the world’s native grasslands have been converted to crops.

That’s troubling for people like Pete Bauman.

Farmers Business Network

Some farming methods are better for the environment, but they don’t always come with a big or immediate financial reward.

A quickly growing ag-technology company with an office in Sioux Falls wants to change that.

The six-year-old Farmers Business Network collects data from thousands of farms. Company executive and South Dakota native Devin Lammers said the company analyzes that data and feeds it back to farmers, who use it to improve their operations.

100th Meridian Project: Part 1

May 11, 2020

In The Moment … May 11, 2020 Show 814 Hour 1

This week, We're exploring how farmers are adapting to climate change in the Great Plains. We'll start in North Dakota. As the climate has shifted, the weather in North Dakota has behaved in odd, counterintuitive ways over the past few decades. For a Harvest Public Media project, Christopher Walljasper reports on how farmers are adapting to climate change.

In The Moment ... October 29, 2019 Show 689 Hour 2

A year after the devastating Camp Fire in California, who's to blame and why was it so catastrophic?

Fire in Paradise, a new FRONTLINE episode, premieres Tuesday night at 9:00 Central/8:00 Mountain on SDPB-TV and online at Accounts from survivors and first-responders provide the inside story of the most destructive fire in California history, its causes, and the impact of climate change.

Senior Producer Dan Edge joins In The Moment from London for a preview of Fire in Paradise.

Chynna Lockett

Two 16 year olds lead hundreds of people in a march against the Keystone XL Pipeline today. Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg and Lakota activist Tokata Iron Eyes chanted outside the Rapid City mayor's office about the pipeline’s environmental impact. 


Tokata Iron Eyes chants a questions, then Greta Thunberg and hundreds of others follow. 


The rally is full of teenagers supporting these young leaders. Iron Eyes says there’s power in mobilizing and voting in democracies. 


Climate Activists Travel To Pine Ridge

Oct 7, 2019

In The Moment ... October 7, 2019 Show 674 Hour 2

Sixteen-year-old climate activist Greta Thunberg traveled to the Pine Ridge Reservation over the weekend. She joined another young activist, Tokata Iron Eyes, who was involved in the 2016 protest against the Dakota Access Pipeline, to talk about climate change.

SDPB's Chynna Lockett was there. She joins In The Moment to discuss the weekend's event and how it's continuing today.

Chynna Lockett

Sixteen year old Climate activist Greta Thunberg traveled to the Pine Ridge Reservation over the weekend. She joined a young Native American activist who was involved in the 2016 protest against the Dakota Access Pipeline to talk climate change. 


National Weather Service

Seven months in to 2019 has seen near record levels of precipitation across South Dakota.  Officials say with more wet weather forecast it is likely a record-breaking year.  The increased precipitation is in line with existing climate models and experts see a trend supporting this idea.

Mike Gillispie is the service hydrologist for the National Weather Service in Sioux Falls. He says the southeast has seen the most extreme precipitation.


In The Moment ... November 29, 2018 Show 469 Hour 2

The latest installment of the National Climate Assessment was released Friday. It offers dire warnings regarding the impact of a changing climate on everything from agriculture to a greatly expanded wildfire season.

Findings from the South Dakota School of Mines and Technology-led Regional Climate Assessment Workshop are included in the national report.

William Capehart leads the Atmospheric Science Program at SDSM&T.

Chris Laughery

In The Moment ... January 4, 2018 Show 249 Hour 1

Climatologist Elwynn Taylor visits Vermillion this week for a presentation at the Dakota Farm Show. He joins us for a conversation about what's ahead for the 2018 growing season. We also talk about managing risk through effective data analysis, how a changing climate impacts corn production in the state, and what needs to be done to prepare for another Dustbowl in America.

In The Moment ... September 5, 2017 Show 170 Hour 1

Victoria Wicks

Our warming climate presents a challenge for gardeners as well as farmers. Weather patterns have become less predictable. As the temperatures rise, it might seem that plants from warmer zones could be planted here in South Dakota. But a horticulture specialist for SDSU Extension says not all components of climate patterns have changed, and gardeners are bound by extremes. SDPB's Victoria Wicks has this report.

Lori Walsh

In The Moment ... August 2, 2017 Show 147 Hour 1

As international experts predict North Korea could develop a workable missile with a reliable warhead by early next year, Americans consider, once again, what it means to live in the shadow of nuclear weapons. We welcome author and Washington Post reporter Dan Zak. His book is called "Almighty: Courage, Resistance, and Existential Peril in the Nuclear Age." It's now in paperback.

In The Moment ...  April 10, 2017 Show 068 Hour 1

Katie Ceroll is the South Dakota Game Fish and Park division director for parks. The agency has announced a “pause” in the conversations about land exchanges in the state (Spearfish Canyon / Bismark Lake). Ceroll discusses how public input influenced the decision and what comes next in the collaborative conversation.

More Wildfires In the Future

Apr 10, 2017
South Dakota State University

Wildfires are nothing new to people in parts of South Dakota. However experts say fires are becoming bigger and more intense.

Professor Mark Cochrane is a senior researcher at South Dakota State University. He and researchers from the University of Tasmania in Australia and the University of Idaho have spent the last decade studying wildfires.

Kealey Bultena

In The Moment ... April 6, 2017 Show 066 Hour 2

Breaking the cycle of domestic and sexual violence is not easy, but it is possible. April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month. We’re joined by Michelle Markgraf, executive director for the Compass Center. Also with us is Jeanne Chamness. She is a counselor for the Compass Center.

Lori Walsh

In The Moment ... April 4, 2017 Show 064 Hour 1

USD's IdeaFest celebrates research, creative scholarship, and academic engagement. It runs tomorrow and Thursday on the campus in Vermilion. This year's faculty keynote address is from Professor Brennan Jordan. He's Associate Professor of Earth Sciences at USD. He joins In the Moment with a preview.

2016 Spring, Fall SD Wildfires Follow Climate Warming Pattern

Nov 13, 2016
Michael Engelhart / Black Hills National Forest

2016 brought significant spring and fall wildfires to South Dakota.  The State Fire Meteorologist Darren  Clabo says these fires follow a trend of longer fire seasons.

During major wildfires Clabo is on hand to help crews predict the weather and plan out their attack.   When he’s not helping fight fires, Clabo spends time tracking the climate.


South Dakotans have re-elected United States Senator John Thune over Democratic challenger Jay Williams. He acknowledges that the nation is fractured. Thune says he’s making a commitment to all of his constituents.

Jerry Krueger / Black Hills National Forest

U.S. Forest Service officials want public input on a plan to make the Black Hills more resilient in the future.   

The goal of the Black Hills Resilient Landscapes Project is to make the forest ready for a changing climate.  That includes challenges like the pine beetle epidemic and a potential for increased forest fires.

Forest service officials say much of the Black Hills has moved away from the desired conditions described in a Management Plan created 20 years ago.

South Dakota has joined a multi-state legal battle against the federal government in support of the Keystone XL Pipeline. USD law professor Myanna Dellinger joins Dakota Midday to talk about the legal action and Keystone’s impact on the international conversation about climate change. 

2015-2016 Winter 11th Warmest On Record In SD

Mar 17, 2016

The Equinox on Sunday the 20th marks the start of spring.   But many South Dakotan’s have already been enjoying some spring like weather.

Officials who track the climate in the state say the past winter was the 11th warmest out of the last 122 years of record.  That includes the timeframe from December 1, 2015 through February 29, 2016.  

Black Hills Corporation is an energy company based in Rapid City. In February, Black Hills Corp acquired Source Gas in a 1.9 billion dollar deal. The company now serves 1.2 million natural gas and electric utility customers in eight states, including South Dakota.

SDPB’s Charles Michael Ray sat down with Chairman and CEO David Emery to talk about consolidation in the energy industry and the responsibility and challenges for companies like Black Hills Corp regarding renewable sources of energy for customers … and for the climate.

State lawmakers killed a bill Thursday that allows science teachers to incorporate information outside the approved curriculum to help students analyze and learn. Supporters of the measure say it gives teachers power to facilitate understanding; opponents question whether the measure solves a real problem.

Great Kiskadee Loses Fight With SD Winter

Jan 8, 2016
K.C. Jensen / SDSU

A tropical bird living outside Brookings has lost his struggle to survive an eastern South Dakota winter.
The appearance of a Great Kiskadee in 2015 captured the attention of bird watchers around the region.  Many were rooting for the underdog to make it through the cold and snowy season.

With 116 years of unbroken data, the annual Christmas Season Bird Count continues nationwide. Professor K.C. Jensen and volunteer birder Michael Melius share what it's like to count birds in the middle of a South Dakota winter. From climate change to invasive species to the misplaced Great Kiskadee, the state of migratory birds tells scientist more about the natural world than might be expected.

Bird Counts: Citizen Science Documents Climate Change Impacts

Dec 30, 2015
Courtesy Wind Cave National Park

The 116th annual Christmas Bird Count is happening across the country again this season.  The counts include volunteers who fan out around communities and document as many birds as they can on a given day.

There are over a dozen bird counts happening in South Dakota from late December into early January.

Lost Tropical Bird Eats Cat Food To Survive SD Winter

Dec 21, 2015
K.C. Jensen / SDSU

A tropical bird that doesn’t often make it farther north than Texas is toughing out the winter in South Dakota.   

The Great Kiskadee normally calls Mexico home, but birdwatchers confirmed one living in South Dakota this fall, and they’ve even photographed it in the snow.  The bird is finding some creative solutions to survive a South Dakota winter.

Finding a Great Kiskadee in South Dakota is a little bit like having a penguin pop up on a beach in Jamaica.

South Dakota Is Party To Multiple Lawsuits Against The EPA

Dec 17, 2015
Kealey Bultena / SDPB

South Dakota is now suing the EPA over implementation of the Clean Water Act.    

South Dakota Attorney General Marty Jackley says  federal officials are overstepping their authority in regulating how South Dakota uses its water.

This is one in a number of multi state lawsuits the state has currently signed on against the EPA.

Eastern SD Getting Wetter Over Past 65 Years

Dec 16, 2015
Jim Holbeck

Is your old cornfield a new bass pond?  There are now parts of eastern South Dakota where the fishing is better than the farming.

A new study by the United States Geological Survey shows a trend towards a wetter climate east of the Missouri River over the last six and a half decades.  Stream gages along waterways like the James and Big Sioux Rivers show a general pattern of increased rains and river flows since 1948. Researchers say they hope this data can be used by ag producers, land managers, and emergency management personnel as they plan for the future.