Climate Impacts in Wisconsin – WICCI Submits Report to Governor’s Task Force on Climate Change

Climate is changing in Wisconsin, along with the rest of the world, and citizens and businesses are already feeling the impacts. The Wisconsin Initiative on Climate Change Impacts (WICCI) is working to help Wisconsin policy makers and citizens understand these impacts and consider potential solutions. Through its involvement with the Governor’s Task Force on Climate Change, launched last fall through Executive Order #52, WICCI has submitted updated climate science information and potential approaches for addressing the impacts in a Report to the Governor’s Task Force on Climate Change: Strategies to Improve Wisconsin’s Climate Resilience and Readiness (pdf). In the report, working groups of scientists, experts, and practitioners present science-based guidance on issues, including:

  • Making climate data available to Wisconsin communities
  • Climate impacts to Wisconsin infrastructure, industry, tourism, agriculture, and natural resources
  • Building climate resilient communities to improve health and safety

Wisconsin is likely to become hotter and wetter in the coming century and extreme precipitation events are likely to increase in frequency and magnitude. “It is encouraging to see that new climate data reaffirm the scientific findings from WICCI’s 2011 climate assessment report. Wisconsin’s climate is changing, our state is already being affected by those changes, and solutions exist to make sure Wisconsin is prepared,” said Daniel Vimont, WICCI co-director and director for the Nelson Institute Center for Climatic Research.

State-of-the-art climate projections need to drive decisions at the state and local levels to protect Wisconsin’s economy, natural resources, and communities. “Climate change is already affecting the health of Wisconsinites, from deaths during heat waves to flood disasters that contaminate our drinking water and promote mold that triggers asthma in children,” said Jonathan Patz, director of the Global Health Institute at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and a member of the Human Health Working Group.

WICCI’s report is the work of a statewide collaboration of scientists and stakeholders formed in 2007 and led by the UW-Madison Nelson Institute for Environmental Studies and the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (DNR) to evaluate climate change impacts in Wisconsin. “WICCI’s working groups are the lifeblood of our organization, and their expertise enabled the scientific guidance provided to the Task Force,” said WICCI co-director Steve Vavrus.

WICCI will use this report as the basis for updating their 2011 climate assessment report, Wisconsin’s Changing Climate, scheduled for completion next summer. According to Anna Haines, director for the Center for Land Use Education and the Wisconsin Center for Environmental Education at UW-Stevens Point, and a member of the Community Climate Adaptation Working Group, making climate data available to Wisconsin communities will help “communities plan for their resilient future by giving them the tools to identify potential flooding issues and the land uses, infrastructure, vulnerable households, and businesses that could be impacted.”

View more resources to help citizens understand impacts of climate change in Wisconsin.