Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Climate impacts in Michigan (Michigan): …Snow is deeper than it was in recent Decembers, yet it lacks moisture content needed to recharge groundwater systems. It’s one hint that northern Michigan weather trends are following climate change predictions.

Temperatures in Michigan could increase by about 4 degrees by 2100, according to a report from the United States Environmental Protection Agency. Others predict temperature increases as much as 13 degrees by the end of the century. Climate change will impact the state’s fisheries, forests, water resources and human health, the EPA report states.

"The debate is not as to whether or not the earth has risen in temperature," said Abby Rubley, field director for Environment Michigan, a statewide environmental advocacy organization. "The debate comes in as whether or not it’s a bad thing and whether humans are causing it."

A recent report by Environment Michigan indicates heavy rainfalls are up 18 percent in Michigan compared to 60 years ago. "Our 50-year storms are now coming every five to 10 years," Rubley said…

According to Mike Cellitti of the National Weather Service in Gaylord, the discrepancy was due to two intense rainstorms which hit Gaylord. But area rainfall may not bring significant relief to drought-stricken lands. Intense rainfall cannot be absorbed into the earth and rather than relieve drought conditions, it can cause flooding and sewage issues.

If predictions for climate change are correct, the northern Michigan we know could be a very different place for our children and grandchildren. The National Wildlife Federation predicts due to climate change, Michigan forest areas could decline by up to 70 percent; warmer water temperatures would reduce habitat for cold-water fish; waterfowl will lose breeding ground leading to up to 39 percent decline in the duck population; degraded water quality and higher concentrations of ozone will lead to human health problems. Consequently, it could lengthen the growing season and increase yields. But the EPA reports suggests climate inconsistencies will make adapting difficult for farmers.

…The region saw some of the warmest temperatures and driest conditions on record. July and August ranked in the top third of warmest summers on record, and October came in as the fifth warmest on record. As for precipitation, several locations failed to receive even half the normal rainfall, according to National Weather Service data.

…Repercussions from the summer’s weather are continuing to hit local farmers. The alfalfa crop was down about 40 percent, according to Bob Battel, Regional Farm Management Educator for Michigan State University Extension in Osceola County. "Hay supplies are short," Battel said. "The statewide average cost is $135 per ton. In some areas, it’s $200. Last year it was $100." Corn crops fared better than alfalfa.

"Conditions were extremely hot. If corn has heat and rain, it puts on yield," he said. "People were worried, but we were lucky and the rain came when we needed it."

…Gov. Jennifer Granholm has called for the creation of a task force to develop recommendations on how Michigan can address climate change in ways that will have a positive effect on the state’s efforts to grow the economy and generate jobs. An interim report will be presented to the governor by April 2008. The council is expected to submit a final report by December 2008.

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