Friday, February 27, 2009

Impact of climate change on Wisconsin

Badger Herald News (Wisconsin): Two climate experts told a crowd at the University of Wisconsin Thursday Wisconsin’s climate and economy will suffer consequences as a result of climate change, but state officials and scientists are already working hard to help the state adapt. “The science is really unequivocal that the earth is warming, climate is changing,” said Richard Lathrop, a research scientist with the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources. “So we’re not here to argue that tonight.”

According to Lathrop, the effects of climate change on Wisconsin are numerous and wide-ranging. He said climate change increases temperatures, humidity and the number of storms seen in Wisconsin. The temperatures increase the risk of heat stroke, while the storms can lead to more damaging floods. The floods can increase the amount of pollution in runoff. According to Dan Vimont, UW atmospheric and oceanic sciences assistant professor, Wisconsin can also expect more heat waves in summer and more rainy days in winter. This leads to more ice, creating problems with potholes and decay in road quality, Vimont said.

With the current model of Wisconsin’s climate, the state’s ecosystem will be damaged, according to Lathrop. “The loss of winter is a real potential for our future,” Lathrop said. He went on to say milder winters lead to loss of recreation and can also slow the economy.

…However, the two speakers introduced the Wisconsin Initiative on Climate Change Impact, a joint effort from the University of Wisconsin’s Nelson Institute for Environmental Studies and Wisconsin’s Department of Natural Resources. WICCI focuses on the consequences of climate change on Wisconsin’s ecosystems, farms and health. “We are trying to bring the best minds of the state together to address these problems collaboratively,” Lathrop said. Vimont agreed, saying some sort of organization must be created that brings scientists and decision makers together.

A winter scene in Calumet County, Wisconsin, shot by Royalbroil (I think), Wikimedia Commons, under the Creative Commons Attribution ShareAlike 2.5 License

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