Forecast: Cloudy with a Chance of Extremes

Michigan SnowIt’s no secret that the weather in Michigan has been a little off, where residents are accustomed to the weather pictured to the right (courtesy of CIMSS, University of Wisconsin – Madison). If you stepped outside in the last couple of weeks, you’ve worn a confusing array of short sleeves, galoshes, and layers of down and wool. Besides getting everyone sick, what does this all mean? Thanks to the efforts of more than 240 scientists, these climate extremes are being logged, tracked, and analyzed in the National Climate Assessment.

The specific chapter on the Midwest deals heavily with the effects of climate change on agriculture. It begins with a semi-optimistic statistic that states the higher carbon-monoxide levels and longer growing seasons will increase certain crop yields, but quickly changes its tune to describe the increase in floods, heat waves, and droughts that will negatively impact agricultural productivity.

Farmers and residents in Michigan noticed these extreme changes in climate last year when devastating late spring freezes left the otherwise bountiful cherry crop at a fraction of its numbers. To add insult to injury, these changes in weather also exacerbate current environmental stresses such as air pollution, decline in beach health, and invasive pests.

To learn more, visit ncadac.globalchange.gov.

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