Studies show that Wisconsin has been the 4th-fastest warming US state since 1970. Between 1950-2006, Wisconsin winters warmed an average of 2.5ºF across the state. Annual precipitation has increased by about 10% since 1950, so we now receive 3+ inches more rain per year. By the close of the 21st century, Wisconsin’s summer temperatures will have risen by 8-18ºF and winter temperatures by 6-11ºF. These hotter temps will make the Midwest feel more like the South. Statewide annual average temperature is likely to increase by 4-9ºF by the end of the century, compared to the ~1ºF average increase we’ve seen so far. And we can expect a 25% increase in heavy storms. Increased precipitation in winter and spring, and greater evaporation in summer, will lead to both floods and droughts.
This has been having countless impacts on our ecosystems, wildlife, communities, and livelihoods. For example, migration patterns of animals and bloom-times of plants are changing due to warmer temperatures and shorter winters: 1/3 of the species observed by the Leopold family in South-Central Wisconsin are arriving 2-3 weeks earlier in the spring than they did in Aldo Leopold’s time (1935-45). Walk around the Nature Center grounds and scan the QR codes to learn more about the species around you, and how they’re being impacted by these changes in our climate.
Visit the resources below or head inside and check out ALNC’s Climate Education Center to learn more about what climate is, how and why it’s changing, and what we can do about it. Our climate is warming on a global scale, but that doesn’t mean it is not affecting us locally – nor does it mean that we Wisconsinites can’t come up with adaptations, innovations, or climate solutions!