Department of Natural Resources: Wisconsin Climate Change Impacts Initiative Releases Climate Assessment Report

MADISON, Wis. – The Wisconsin Climate Change Impacts Initiative (WICCI) today released its 2021 climate assessment report, Wisconsin Climate Change: Impacts and Solutions for a Warmer Climate. The report is the most comprehensive assessment to date of the impact of climate change in Wisconsin and includes details of continued warming and increased precipitation across the state.

The report found that since 1950, statewide temperatures have warmed 3 degrees Fahrenheit and precipitation has increased 17%. Meanwhile, the past two decades have been the hottest on record and the past decade has been the wettest. The report highlights the need for deep and rapid reductions in greenhouse gas emissions and identifies actions Wisconsin can take to store carbon, reduce emissions and adapt to a wetter, warmer future.

“It is clear that climate change is already affecting our state and will continue to do so for decades to come,” said Dan Vimont, co-director of WICCI, director of the Nelson Institute Center for Climate Research (CCR) and professor in the Department of Science. atmospheric and oceanic. “This report shows that we are all individually affected by climate change. And each of us can contribute to the solutions.

Led by the UW-Madison Nelson Institute for Environmental Studies and the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (DNR), the report is the product of 14 working groups comprising more than 200 scientists, practitioners, and Wisconsin residents representing more than 50 countries, states, and local agencies, non-profit organizations, and universities. The final report was reviewed by a scientific advisory committee.

In 2019, Governor Tony Evers signed Executive Order No. 52, launching the Governor’s Task Force on Climate Change and directing the DNR to work with WICCI and the Nelson Institute for Environmental Studies to release a new assessment report. climatic. The previous report was published in 2011.

WICCI is a nationally recognized collaboration of scientists and stakeholders – formed as a partnership between the Nelson Institute for Environmental Studies and the DNR – working together to help Wisconsin residents and decision-makers understand the impacts of climate change. climatic.

“The report contains critical information and will be a valuable tool for the people of Wisconsin as the state takes its next steps to become more climate resilient,” said Pam Porter, WICCI Co-Director and DNR Policy Advisor. “The preparation of the report has been a rewarding scientific collaboration. We are grateful for the leadership of the WICCI task forces, which have spent countless hours analyzing climate impacts on Wisconsin and identifying practical solutions.

Through a series of interviews, the report also highlights how climate change is affecting communities across the state. Those in the Driftless region have noted that an increase in flooding has deeply affected agriculture and housing throughout the region. In the northern regions of the state, a warmer and more humid climate has led to changes in plant and animal life. Meanwhile, communities are experiencing eroded cliffs and infrastructure problems along the coast due to fluctuating water levels.

It is essential to understand how climate change affects communities. And part of that is understanding how climate change disproportionately affects some communities more than others. Low-income communities, communities of color, tribal nations and other indigenous communities are the first and most affected by climate change. Including all communities in the climate change conversation will be an important part of ensuring climate change solutions are effective and equitable.

“Climate change tends to disproportionately affect people who have contributed less to the problem or are less able to cope with the impacts,” said Steve Vavrus, co-director of WICCI and senior scientist at the Nelson Institute. “It is not our imagination that extreme weather, in general, is becoming more pronounced and the price of extreme events is increasing.”

While the report presents sobering data on the future climate, scientists and community members have also expressed hope throughout the report. Changes in attitude towards climate change and a better understanding of the science of climate change have led to creative solutions. Many organizations, farmers, business leaders and community members have also expressed hope for the future as mitigation and solutions are discussed and implemented.

The report outlines many of these solutions, including reducing greenhouse gases, increasing continuous live cover and rotational managed pasture on farmland, implementing habitat management changes and the design and construction of infrastructure that takes into account future climatic conditions.

The Wisconsin Climate Change: Impacts and Solutions for a Warmer Climate report is available here.

Teresa H. Sadler