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.
 
Many areas of Wisconsin have enjoyed above average temperatures this fall. La Crosse had the latest first frost on record this year, finally dropping to freezing temperatures last week.
Maple syrup harvest in Wisconsin
Early warm weather and the influence of El Niño is causing maple syrup to start running, requiring maple sap collectors and syrup producers to scramble to capture the harvest.
Despite all the heavy rain in the first half of December, with flood warnings across parts of the state, Wisconsinites should be thankful they did not experience a downpour on the order of 5 inches in just 24 hours. Such extreme rainfall can cause damaging flooding, severe soil erosion and crop loss.
El Niño and anthropogenic climate change aren't the same thing, and climatologists stress each phenomenon’s individual effects on weather patterns and occurrences shouldn't be conflated.
The Weather Guys
The "polar vortex" that memorably descended over Wisconsin starting in January 2014 wasn't really all that bad, at least when considered in the context of 66 years of weather data for the Northern Hemisphere's lower troposphere (that is, one mile above the ground).
David Liebl
Wisconsin's climate is gradually warming and is forecast to get warmer by the mid-21st century. Climatologists track this regional reflection of a planetary trend in large part through a series of satellites that gather data about Earth's lands, seas and air, and subsequently, use this information to help model long-term climate projections.