Last week I received the Wisconsin Initiative on Climate Change Impacts (WICCI) 2021 Assessment Report. I’ll try to summarize what the report means for us in Northern Wisconsin.
We are already feeling the impact of climate change. We are fortunately starting to come together to make our communities more climate-resilient.
The report’s key findings and solutions were discussed. I’ve listed some of them below.
Findings on Climate
- · Wisconsin’s average daily temperature has become three degrees Fahrenheit warmer since the 1950’s.
- · The last two decades have been the warmest on record, and the past decade has been the wettest.
- · Wisconsin has become wetter – average precipitation has increased 17 percent (about 5 inches) since 1950.
- · Warming is happening fastest in the winter and at night.
- · Southern Wisconsin has experienced the highest increase in precipitation.
- · Very extreme precipitation events will increase in the future.
- · Extreme events are already causing immense impacts across the state, and the frequency of those events will generally increase.
Decrease carbon emissions and promote environmental and climate justice by investing in solutions that reduce greenhouse gas emissions and associated climate impacts.
Findings on Land
- · Warmer winters, wetter springs, and extreme weather events are impacting agricultural production in Wisconsin and overwhelming conservation practices to keep soil in place and protect water quality. A shift towards increasing living cover on farm fields and promoting rotational grazing can reduce greenhouse gas emissions, which have increased by 14.3 percent from 2005 to 2017. Well-managed pastures and farm fields build and retain soil carbon, help communities cope with the increase in extreme rainfall events, and reduce damage to roads, bridges, and other infrastructure.
- · Warmer winters, increasing deer herds, extreme weather events, summer droughts, and longer growing seasons are stressing forest ecosystems and in-creasing the risk of outbreaks of new pests and diseases. Iconic species like paper birch are vanishing from northern forests as the climate warms. Forest management, logging, and the forest products supply chain are facing uncertainty, with implications for rural economies.
- · Warmer and wetter conditions, extreme storms, summer droughts, milder winters, and longer growing seasons are amplifying non-climate stressors to the point where diverse native habitats are simplified, associated wildlife species are diminishing or disappearing, and species extinction rates are accelerating.
- · Changing growing seasons, summer droughts, reduced snowpack, and increased flooding are reducing critical habitat and food sources for many wildlife species.
- Many species are shifting ranges and changing migration patterns to adjust to the changes. Climate-vulnerable species need help to adapt to rapidly changing conditions.
- Promote effective conservation practices and adaptations to make agriculture more resilient to climate impacts.
- Improve resilience to increasing precipitation and flood events that cause nutrient and sediment runoff by avoiding grassland or natural vegetation conversion to row-crop production or urban development.
- Preserve and protect large tracts of land for wildlife, implement habitat management changes to provide food and cover for wildlife that align with expected future climate conditions and adjust harvest regulations for climate-vulnerable species.
- Maintain and expand forest cover and urban tree canopy, targeting lands that offer the greatest potential for continued carbon storage and sequestration.
- Next week, I’ll continue with the report and look at Water and People and how they’re affected.