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Publication Abstract

The 2012 Drought in Illinois Knapp, Vernon, James Angel, Jennie Atkins, Luke Bard, Elias Getahun, Kenneth Hlinka, Laura Keefer, Walton Kelly, George Roadcap, 2017  Illinois State Water Survey, Champaign, IL,  ISWS RI-123    Full Text Available

Drought severity is generally defined by its impacts (Changnon et al., 1996). Such impacts can range from comparatively short-term effects on agriculture and horticulture to long-term effects on shallow groundwater and surface water supplies, and include a variety of associated socio-economic losses and environmental damages. As described in this report, the primary impact of the 2012 drought in Illinois was to agriculture. Significant precipitation deficits, leading to much-reduced soil moisture and worsened by extreme high temperatures, stressed crops, pasture, and livestock. Corn yields in particular were noticeably reduced throughout large portions of the state, and some of that crop was tainted with aflatoxins. The drought also posed concerns about water resources and water supply that may have developed into greater specific threats had the drought lasted longer. The developing potential for water supply shortages was lessened, and in some cases removed entirely, after abundant precipitation produced by the remnants of Hurricane Isaac occurred at the end of August 2012. Fish kills associated with low stream levels, high water temperatures, or algal blooms were reported in numerous streams and rivers. In a few cases in northeastern Illinois, water quality treatment problems emerged related to excessively high amounts of algae in rivers. Although the drought also diminished rural groundwater supplies and caused navigation concerns on some major rivers, ultimately the overall impacts to these resources were limited by the relative brevity of the drought.

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