WISCONSIN CLIMATE IMPACTS Icon

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Warmer temperatures are extending the growing season, which can be beneficial for some crops. However, the increased frequency of extreme weather events, such as heavy rains and droughts, poses significant risks.

Changes in climate are impacting crop yields and the prevalence of pests and diseases. The variability in weather conditions can lead to decreased yields for certain crops and increased challenges in pest management.

Increased precipitation and flooding can lead to soil erosion and nutrient runoff, impacting water quality and agricultural productivity. Farmers will need to adopt new management practices to cope with these changes.

Winters are consistently getting warmer throughout Wisconsin, leading to reduced snowfall and snowpack, and shrinking ice cover on freshwater lakes. This adversely affects many beloved winter activities like snowmobiling, cross-country skiing, ice fishing, and pond hockey.

This obviously impacts the winter tourism industry, which is a significant economic driver. Regions relying on early and consistent snowfall are particularly affected, with events like the Hurley’s Red Light Snowmobile Rally becoming less frequent due to inconsistent snow. Northern Wisconsin is losing snowpack and ice at the fastest rate, and annual traditions like ice fishing derbies and cross-country ski races are struggling to survive.

Rising temperatures and more frequent heat waves are increasing a number of public health risks, especially the threat of heat-related illnesses, particularly among vulnerable populations such as the elderly and children. A longer pollen season that results from shorter winters is worsening allergies and asthma throughout the state, especially in children.

The changing climate is also altering the distribution and prevalence of vector-borne diseases like Lyme disease and West Nile virus, with warmer temperatures and increased precipitation creating favorable conditions for ticks and mosquitoes.

The composition of Wisconsin’s forests is expected to change as rising temperatures drive habitats for many tree species northward. The role of the region’s forests as a net absorber of carbon is at risk from disruptions to forest ecosystems, in part due to climate change. Heat stress is impacting some of Wisconsin’s unique tree species and forests, and there is an increase in damaging insect species moving north. These factors are similar to an alarming trend seen across the country and especially out west. Tens of millions of trees have died in the Rocky Mountains over the past 15 years as a result of insects, wildfires, and stress from heat and drought.

Meanwhile, many animal species are migrating northward or to higher elevations in response to warmer temperatures. This shift can lead to changes in ecosystem composition and the potential loss of biodiversity.

  • Species Migration and Habitat Loss: Many species are migrating northward or to higher elevations in response to warmer temperatures. This shift can lead to changes in ecosystem composition and the potential loss of biodiversity.
  • Forest Health: Wisconsin’s forests are experiencing stress due to warmer temperatures, changes in precipitation, and increased pest activity. These factors can lead to reduced forest health and productivity​​.

RESOURCES Icon

Noaa Wisconsin

Wisconsin State Summary

The Wisconsin Initiative on Climate Change Impacts (WICCI) is a…
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Wisconsin Initiative on Climate Change

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IN THE MEDIA Icon

Find some of the best examples of local reporting on unnatural disasters and other climate impacts in Wisconsin.

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