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Climate Change in Wisconsin

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A mercury thermometer.
A mercury thermometer.

Madison, Wis. (WHBL) - Wisconsin’s average annual temperature is expected to rise by 6-to-7 degrees in the next 40 years. And that might affect the quality of nature – plus the way we fish and farm. Those predictions come from the Nelson Institute for Environmental Studies at U-W Madison. It updated the forecasts made in 2007 by the Inter-governmental panel on Climate Change, and applied them specifically to the Badger State. The study says northwest Wisconsin will see the biggest rise in temperatures by the middle of the century – and the warming will be much less near Lake Michigan. Also, the biggest changes will be in the winter as opposed to the summer. The report did not suggest changes in government energy policies. Lewis Gilbert of the Nelson Institute said they just wanted to show various decision-makers what the weather will be like, so they can plan for it. Water levels are expected to drop by a foot on the Great Lakes by the end of the century, with more shoreline erosion. Experts said there could also be more beach closings, which could affect Wisconsin tourism. The study also says farmers will have longer growing seasons – plus more soil erosion that could reduce the quality of their crops if they don’t plan ahead. Deer, squirrels, and geese would benefit from the warmth – but some rare native species could become extinct like the spruce grouse and the American marten. Forecasters say there could be more huge downpours and floods like the ones that hit Milwaukee and Grant County last July. Winter temperatures could rise as much as 11 degrees, hurting such major events like the American Birkebeiner (birk-by-ner) cross country ski race at Hayward.

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