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Montana’s average temperature continues to increase, study shows

In this July 6, 2017, file photo, a wildfire burns near the historic mining town of Landusky, south of the Fort Belknap Indian Reservation in north-central Montana. (Meg Oliphant / Billings Gazette via AP)
In this July 6, 2017, file photo, a wildfire burns near the historic mining town of Landusky, south of the Fort Belknap Indian Reservation in north-central Montana. (Meg Oliphant / Billings Gazette via AP)

BOZEMAN – A Montana climate study found the state’s average temperature continues to increase, winter snowpack is decreasing and the fire and growing seasons are lasting longer while drought conditions are expected to increase in frequency and duration.

The Montana Climate Assessment, carried out by the Montana University System’s Institute on Ecosystem, suggests Montana may need to start storing more water and farmers and ranchers may need to switch to crops that do better in the drought conditions.

The two-year study looked at past climate data and the impact on the state’s water, forests and agriculture.

MSU Professor Cathy Whitlock said Wednesday the assessment is meant to help Montanans plan and make better decisions. The authors plan to travel the state over the next year to discuss the findings.