Document Type

Article (Online ahead of print)




Modern global climate change is primarily attributable to human activities and the release of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere. Climate change impacts span a range of sectors, including agriculture, forestry, public health, and water resource management. The Commonwealth of Virginia has already and will continue to deal with many of these impacts, yet lacks concentrated effort to detect, document, and adapt to local climate changes. This study documents observed changes in temperature and precipitation across Virginia’s six climate divisions. Mean seasonal anomalies of minimum temperature, maximum temperature, and precipitation from 1986 to 2016 are examined relative to a long-term 1895-2000 baseline. Additionally, the study assesses and reports full-record (1895-2016) trends for each climate division. Results demonstrate warming across all climate divisions in Virginia, particularly during the winter season (December, January, and February). Precipitation changes vary across the Commonwealth and seasons. Drying conditions, particularly in the Eastern and Western Piedmont, are noteworthy during the summer, while wetter conditions prevail in the spring and autumn. Former Governor Kaine’s 2008 Climate Action Plan and subsequent 2016 update by Governor McAuliffe’s administration called for a Virginia climate information clearinghouse where the public and decision-makers could efficiently access valuable weather and climate information. This paper represents a first step in this yet unrealized plan.


This is the online version published ahead of print. Initial submission: January 2019; revised submission: May 2019.