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Climate Wisconsin 2050: New resource helps communities adapt to change

August 31, 2016

Increases in average temperature, higher frequency and intensity of rainfall, and heavier snowfalls are just a few of the things Wisconsinites can expect by the year 2050, according to climate scientists.

How will those changes affect local communities? The Wisconsin Initiative on Climate Change Impacts (WICCI) and UW-Extension have partnered to answer those questions in a new series, Climate Wisconsin 2050 – Scenarios of a State of Change.

The publications – each focusing on potential challenges such as stormwater management or heat emergencies – provide guidance on how Wisconsin’s hundreds of municipalities, towns and counties can prepare themselves for some of the problems that might arise as the climate becomes warmer and more variable.

Each publication in the Climate
Wisconsin 2050 series
(PDF) outlines
expected climate impacts and
strategies communities can
develop to protect their assets.

“Our communities need to be thinking ahead,” says WICCI Co-Director David Liebl, a statewide stormwater specialist with UW-Extension and affiliate of the Nelson Institute Center for Climatic Research. “Having a snapshot of future climate vulnerabilities will be a valuable part of their planning toolbox.”

The publication series gives a broad overview of the scope of what climate change will bring, looking at public health and safety, government services, and government facilities and infrastructure. Each one outlines both the expected climate impacts and adaptation strategies that could protect community assets.

According to Liebl, “Local governments can use these scenarios as benchmarks to compare today's understanding against future risk to public health, infrastructure and government operations."

The Nelson Institute for Environmental Studies at UW-Madison is a founding partner in WICCI – a collaborative network of federal, state and municipal agencies; universities; tribal and nongovernmental organizations; and private sector industries.

WICCI researches potential climate change impacts on Wisconsin natural resources, ecosystems and regions; evaluates potential effects on industry, agriculture, tourism and other human activities; and develops and recommends adaptation strategies that can be implemented by businesses, farmers, public health officials, municipalities, resource managers and other stakeholders. The effort engages citizens, private and public decision-makers, and scientists from Wisconsin and the Upper Midwest.

Read more from Climate Wisconsin 2050: Communities (PDF).