Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Report assesses Wisconsin's climate change impacts, adaptation strategies

University of Wisconsin-Madison: A statewide collaborative of scientists and diverse stakeholders is proposing a multitude of measures to help protect and enhance Wisconsin's natural resources, economic vitality, and public well-being as the state's climate becomes warmer and wetter. Their report, "Wisconsin's Changing Climate: Impacts and Adaptation," was released today by the Wisconsin Initiative on Climate Change Impacts (WICCI). It is available online here.

"This report is the first comprehensive survey of climate change impacts in Wisconsin, and it provides information that will help decision-makers begin to plan for the kinds of changes we're likely to see in the years ahead," says Lewis Gilbert, associate director of the Nelson Institute for Environmental Studies at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and member of WICCI's science council.

Public officials, resource managers, business owners, and farmers are among the many groups expected to draw upon the new report's recommendations as they anticipate and address the impacts of current and future climate change across the state.

"We need to think about what climate change could mean for our natural resources and actively plan to address the issue," says Jack Sullivan, director of science services at the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (DNR). Sullivan coordinates efforts within the agency to evaluate how a changing climate may alter its management responsibilities and how to minimize negative impacts.

UW-Madison scientists already have documented changes in Wisconsin's climate that have occurred over the past 60 years, including a 1.3 degree Fahrenheit increase in the annual average temperature — 2.5 degrees in winter — and more frequent occurrences of heavy rainfall.

Using sophisticated computer models, the scientists also have projected that Wisconsin's average temperature is likely to rise an additional 4 to 9 degrees Fahrenheit by mid-century and that more total precipitation and more intense storms are highly probable in many parts of the state….

A (female?) juvenile Northern Harrier (Circus hudsonius) hovering over potential prey, shot by Dori, Wikimedia Commons via Flickr, under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 Generic license

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