If you’re a resident living in the Midwest, then brace yourself for more crazy weather projections. According to the 2014 National Climate Assessment, we can expect more extreme heat, heavier downpours and flooding, serious consequences for the ecosystems of the Great Lakes, and changes in the region’s economy. Did you know that temperatures in the Midwest have already risen of 1.5 F from 1900 to 2010, with the increase speeding up more rapidly in the last 30 years? Here is how the effects of the warming will change Michigan and the rest of the Midwest:
Reductions in Crop: Climate change will bring a lot of competition, both good and bad. Higher temperatures means a longer growing season, but that also increases the risk of a sudden cold snap in the spring. This can affect the economy in plenty of ways, and it is not necessarily good. Heat waves during pollination season can cut down crop yields, and seasonal periods of hotter temperatures are usually drier as well. This is predicted to increase in the regions southern portion around Missouri.
Next, there will be more drought AND heavier rains. Although the Midwest is not as drought-stricken as the southwest, it will still likely get dry regions drier and regions that are already fairly wet, wetter. The NCA shows a 10 to 20 percent increase in spring and winter precipitation by 2099 with no attendant changes in summer and fall. This won’t necessarily be spaced out evenly over time. The drought duration will actually become longer with the added precipitation packed into more isolated bursts. Precipitation for the Midwest has already shot up 37 percent since 1958.
So what does this mean for the Midwest? It means more flooding. An increase in flooding can lead to the overflow of sewers, which means that it could possibly contaminate the rivers and streams, as well as the great lakes. Any runoff from these downpours also carries fertilizers and other chemicals into the lakes as well, and that is shown already by the algae blooms that occur in Lake Erie during the summer.
Next, climate change will cause more heat waves. This could become a problem because most of the housing the region is designed for colder temperatures.
This could also be dangerous for the Great lakes. The water levels present in these lakes have fallen exponentially over the last decade or two. In another example of the climate change, the ice coverage on the Great Lakes has dropped dramatically from the 1973-1982 period to 2003-2013. Less ice can also lead to erosion and more vulnerability of the shorelines to flooding.