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Climate Change and Wisconsin´s Great Lakes

Earth´s climate is changing. Human activities that increase heat–trapping ("green house") gases are the main cause. Earth´s average temperature has increased 1.4 °F since 1850 and the eight warmest years on record have occurred since 1998. Increasing temperatures have led to changes in rainfall patterns and snow and ice cover. These changes could have severe effects on the Great Lakes and the plants, wildlife and people who depend on them. While no one can predict exactly what climate change will mean for our Great Lakes, scientists agree that the following changes are likely if climate change patterns continue.

  • Increased summer and winter temperatures will cause increased evaporation, lower lake water levels and warmer water, resulting in reduced habitat for cold water species and a loss of critical wetland areas.
  • Decreased winter ice cover will also contribute to increased evaporation and lower lake water levels which could have severe economic consequences for our valuable shipping industry, lakeshore recreation, and coastal businesses.
  • Changes in rain and snowfall patterns (including more frequent and severe storms) could change water flow in streams and rivers and increase stream bank erosion and runoff pollution.

The good news is that we can all work to slow climate change and lessen its effects. To find out more about climate change and how we can all help, please visit the following links.

Wisconsin DNR Climate Change information

Climate change is mainly the result of rising CO2 levels in Earth´s atmosphere. Check out the most current CO2 level and what it means: CO2 Now [exit DNR]

General climate change information and actions we can all take to help (includes a special section for teachers and students): EPA Climate Change [exit DNR]

Climate Change and the Great Lakes

Last revised: Monday October 24 2016