Images via U.S. Department of Agriculture

Series: Climate Science And Wisconsin

Climate science is complex. Because changes to the global climate span continents and develop over decades, their effects on individual places and weather events are difficult to pinpoint. But with an ever growing body of historical climate data and sophisticated computer modeling, scientists can forecast how climate change is unfolding — and likely continue to play out — in places like Wisconsin with increasing confidence. In coming decades communities around the state are projected to continue experiencing warmer and more extreme weather. These effects are increasingly being recognized, with winter and nighttime temperatures rising, and heavier rainstorms occurring with increasing regularity. From the environment to human health to the economy, gauging the impacts of a changing climate is an urgent scientific endeavor with implications for every Wisconsinite.
 
In a place with long winters like Wisconsin, people tend to make use of one of its most visible seasonal resources: ice.
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Winter is historically when water levels recede in the Great Lakes. But in January 2020, Lake Michigan broke a 33-year-old record high, according to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.
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Climate change could rob Wisconsin of its maple syrup, a Northwoods forest ecologist says. According to projections by federal scientists, if carbon emissions aren't cut back, the state will become much less hospitable to the sugar maple, along with a host of other tree species.
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What's considered normal weather changes over time. To account for that, the National Weather Service will recalculate a 30-year average of weather patterns from 1991 to 2020.
In the longer term, warmer waters that come with a warming climate may make it more expensive to combat sea lampreys, longtime predators of Great Lakes fish.
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As farmers struggle to raise their crops and communities find themselves under water, the effects of climate change are being increasingly felt in Wisconsin. UW Law School director of research centers Sumudu Atapattu discusses how this issue intersects with concepts of human rights.
One of the first environmental scientists in northwest Wisconsin to raise concerns about how prepared the region was for more intense flooding is Randy Lehr.
Complaints about living in the Midwest often hinge on its seasonal extremes as a top reason to steer clear of the region, and a July 2019 study highlights the health risks posed by dangerously high summer heat in Wisconsin and throughout the United States.
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As Wisconsin sweats in the midst of a July heatwave, a report shows that global warming could lead to a jump in dangerous high summer temperatures in the state. UW Nelson Institute for Climatic Research researcher Michael Notaro discusses the study and what it means.
Tracking global croplands and how they are changing is a massive, pressing and complex undertaking made possible by advances in remote sensing and computing.