Modeling Future Weather

UW-Madison climatologists from the Nelson Institute for Environmental Studies have analyzed weather data collected across Wisconsin since 1950. They now feel they have a clearer picture of what our weather will be like in the years ahead. A quick snapshot suggests that by 2O55 Wisconsin’s climate will be more like Missouri’s. But there will be significant differences between our part of the State and downstate, according to their analysis. Warming will be greatest, they say, in northern Wisconsin. Our winter temperatures have already risen an average of more than 4 degrees; in 45 years annual winter increases could go as high as 11 degrees.

Milder winters with less snow would allow deer populations to grow, and there would be more ticks and forest pests. (Already western forests are experiencing an infestation of bark beetles, leading to more forest fires.) Another effect of warmer winters would be a steady decline in lake ice. The scientists wonder whether coldwater fisheries can withstand increases in both air and water temperatures. Wisconsin’s climatologists also predict lower summer temperatures and more summer rains everywhere in Wisconsin, except in our part of the north.

You can read more about the findings of the Wisconsin lnitiative on Climate Change lmpacts (WlCCl)  or in the February 2010 issue of Wisconsin Natural Resources.