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NCA Education Resources for the Midwest Region

"Extreme heat, heavy downpours, and flooding will affect infrastructure, health, agriculture, forestry, transportation, air and water quality, and more. Climate change will also exacerbate a range of risks to the Great Lakes." National Climate Assessment, 2014

The National Climate Assessment summarizes the impacts of climate change on the United States, now and in the future. This report collects, integrates, and assesses observations and research from around the country, helping us to see what is actually happening and understand what it means for our lives, our livelihoods, and our future. It is important that these findings and response options be shared broadly to inform citizens and communities across our nation. Climate change presents a major challenge for society. This report advances our understanding of that challenge and the need for the American people to prepare for and respond to its far-reaching implications.

Disclaimer:
The National Climate Assessment regional resources for educators is written, edited, and moderated by each team of contributors. Posts reflect the views of the team themselves and not necessarily Climate.gov, NOAA, or USGCRP.

Contributors:
Contributors: Kristen Poppleton, Will Steger Foundation
Sarah Evans, Will Steger Foundation
Jenna Totz, Will Steger Foundation

Through its Our Changing Climate section and Climate Science Supplement sections, the NCA contains information that will help educators and students gain a deeper understanding of climate science. This content will support the integration of the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) into science education.  The NGSS also asks educators to raise the teaching of engineering design to the same level as scientific inquiry. In the Adaptation and Infrastructure sections of the NCA, educators can find information on climate-related problems and solutions, including those that draw on engineering design. The Decision Support section provides information on how decision makers across the country are using climate information to prepare for the impacts of climate change that affect where they work and live.

This webpage features key figures, related resources, and lesson plans, videos and visualizations reviewed by CLEAN for all the NCA key messages for the region.  The page contains information that will help educators and students gain a deeper understanding of climate science and the implications of climate variability and climate change for midwest region.

NCA Midwest Report and Highlights

Report

Highlights

Región Medio Oeste (Spanish translation)

NCA Key Message 1: Impacts to Agriculture

visit the full Impacts to Agriculture page

In the next few decades, longer growing seasons and rising carbon dioxide levels will increase yields of some crops, though those benefits will be progressively offset by extreme weather events. Though adaptation options can reduce some of the detrimental effects, in the long term, the combined stresses associated with climate change are expected to decrease agricultural productivity.

1. Guiding Questions

  • How do the the short and long term predictions of climate change impacts on agricultural productivity differ?
  • How could impacts on agricultural productivity in the Midwest affect the country’s economy as a whole?
  • What are two specific climate change consequences that will impact Midwest agriculture?
  • What kind of solutions and technological innovations might be developed to alleviate impacts on Midwest agriculture?

2. Key figures

Projected Mid-Century Temperature Changes in the Midwest
Projected increase in annual average temperatures by mid-century (2041-2070) as compared to the 1971-2000 period tell only part of the climate change story. Maps also show annual projected increases in the number of the hottest days (days over 95°F), longer frost-free seasons, and an increase in cooling degree days, defined as the number of degrees that a day’s average temperature is above 65°F, which generally leads to an increase in energy use for air conditioning. Projections are from global climate models that assume emissions of heat-trapping gases continue to rise (A2 scenario). (Figure source: NOAA NCDC / CICS-NC).

Key Climate Variables Affecting Agriculture Productivity
Frost-free season is projected to lengthen across much of the nation. Taking advantage of the increasing length of the growing season and changing planting dates could allow planting of more diverse crop rotations, which can be an effective adaptation strategy. The annual maximum number of consecutive dry days (less than 0.01 inches of rain) is projected to increase, especially in the western and southern parts of the nation, negatively affecting crop and animal production. The trend toward more consecutive dry days and higher temperatures will increase evaporation and add stress to limited water resources, affecting irrigation and other water uses.

Crop Yields Decline under Higher Temperatures
Crop yields are very sensitive to temperature and rainfall. They are especially sensitive to high temperatures during the pollination and grain filling period. For example, corn (left) and soybean (right) harvests in Illinois and Indiana, two major producers, were lower in years with average maximum summer (June, July, and August) temperatures higher than the average from 1980 to 2007. Most years with below-average yields are both warmer and drier than normal. 8, 9 There is high correlation between warm and dry conditions during Midwest summers 10 due to similar meteorological conditions and drought-caused changes. 11 (Figure source: Mishra and Cherkauer 2010 8).

U.S. Agriculture
U.S. agriculture includes 300 different commodities with a nearly equal division between crop and livestock products. This chart shows a breakdown of the monetary value of U.S. agriculture products by category. (Data from 2007 Census of Agriculture, USDA National Agricultural Statistics Service 2008 11).

Agricultural Distribution
Agricultural activity is distributed across the U.S. with market value and crop types varying by region. In 2010, the total market value was nearly $330 billion. Wide variability in climate, commodities, and practices across the U.S. will likely result in differing responses, both in terms of yield and management. (Figure source: USDA National Agricultural Statistics Service 2008).

Increasing Heavy Downpours in Iowa
Iowa is the nation’s top corn and soybean producing state. These crops are planted in the spring. Heavy rain can delay planting and create problems in obtaining a good stand of plants, both of which can reduce crop productivity. In Iowa soils with even modest slopes, rainfall of more than 1.25 inches in a single day leads to runoff that causes soil erosion and loss of nutrients and, under some circumstances, can lead to flooding. The figure shows the number of days per year during which more than 1.25 inches of rain fell in Des Moines, Iowa. Recent frequent occurrences of such events are consistent with the significant upward trend of heavy precipitation events documented in the Midwest. 72, 75 (Figure source: adapted from Takle 2011 76).

Subsurface Drainage System
Producers have been installing subsurface drainage to remove more water from the fields.

Runoff Leads to Soil Erosion
The increasing intensity of storms and the shifting of rainfall patterns toward more spring precipitation in the Midwest may lead to more scenes similar to this one.

Projected Changes in Key Climate Variable Affecting Agricultural Productivity
Many climate variables affect agriculture. The maps above show projected changes in key climate variables affecting agricultural productivity for the end of the century (2070-2099) compared to 1971-2000. Changes in climate parameters critical to agriculture show lengthening of the frost-free or growing season and reductions in the number of frost days (days with minimum temperatures below freezing), under an emissions scenario that assumes continued increases in heat-trapping gases (A2). Changes in these two variables are not identical, with the length of the growing season increasing across most of the United States and more variation in the change in the number of frost days. Warmer-season crops, such as melons, would grow better in warmer areas, while other crops, such as cereals, would grow more quickly, meaning less time for the grain itself to mature, reducing productivity. Taking advantage of the increasing length of the growing season and changing planting dates could allow planting of more diverse crop rotations, which can be an effective adaptation strategy. On the frost-free map, white areas are projected to experience no freezes for 2070-2099, and gray areas are projected to experience more than 10 frost-free years during the same period. In the lower left graph, consecutive dry days are defined as the annual maximum number of consecutive days with less than 0.01 inches of precipitation. In the lower right graph, hot nights are defined as nights with a minimum temperature higher than 98% of the minimum temperatures between 1971 and 2000. (Figure source: NOAA NCDC / CICS-NC).

3. Other Resources

Climate Impacts in the Midwest- Impacts on Agriculture, Forests and other Ecosystems
This EPA page documents the impacts that the changing climate is and will have on agriculture in the Midwest.

Minnesota Department of Health- Climate and Health: Agriculture and Food Security
Climate and weather have a complex relationship with agriculture in Minnesota. Depending on the exact changes, Minnesota may experience significant impacts to food security and health. Climate change is lengthening the growing season and causing increases in heavy rain events, which may increase the amount of food that farmers produce or cause large crop losses. Livestock will benefit from warmer winters, but more extreme heat events in the summer will increase heat-related illnesses and deaths. These are a couple examples of the effects of climate change.

USDA- Climate Change and Agriculture in the United States: Effects and Adaptation
Climate change effects over the next 25 years will be mixed. Continued changes by mid-century and beyond, however, are expected to have generally detrimental effects on most crops and livestock. As temperatures increase, crop production areas may shift to follow the temperature range for optimal growth and yield, though production in any given location will be more influenced by available soil water during the growing season. Weed control costs total more than $11 billion a year in the U.S.; those costs are expected to rise with increasing temperatures and carbon dioxide concentrations.

Minnesota Pollution Control Agency: Climate Change in Minnesota
Minnesota is already experiencing impacts from climate change, and will continue to experience impacts to our ecosystems, natural resources, and infrastructure.

Minnesota Environment and Energy Report Card
Pg. 7

Food and Agriculture: Towards Healthy Food Farms
Working to promote sustainable agriculture in the United States.

EPA- Climate Change Indicators in the United States
This figure shows the length of the growing season in the contiguous 48 states compared with a long-term average. For each year, the line represents the number of days shorter or longer than average. The line was smoothed using an 11-year moving average. Choosing a different long-term average for comparison would not change the shape of the data over time.

4. Lesson Plans

U.S. Cropland Greenhouse Gas Calculator
In this activity students can use an interactive calculator that allows for estimations and visualizations on greenhouse gas production from croplands in the United States.

Level: High School 9- 12 and College Lower Direct Link

The Impact of a Global Temperature Rise of 4 Degrees Celsius
This lesson uses an interactive world map for students to see the impact of global temperature rise of 4 degrees celsius. This activity applies to agriculture, marine life, fires, weather patterns, and health. Students can click on the Hot Spots and see more specific issues in different regions

Level: Middle 6-8 and High School 9-12 Direct Link

5. Videos

USDA- Creating Modern Solutions for Environmental Challenges

Press Release: Secretary Vilsack Announces Regional Hubs to Help Agriculture, Forestry Mitigate the Impacts of a Changing Climate

Science for a Hungry World: Agriculture and Climate change
How will climate change impact agriculture? This episode explores the need for accurate, continuous and accessible data and computer models to track and predict the challenges farmers face as they adjust to a changing climate.

NCA Key Message 2: Forest Composition

visit the full Forest Composition page

The composition of the region’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.

1. Guiding Questions

  • What are some factors that would make a species more vulnerable to climate change?
  • How will migration of species factor into climate change adaptation?
  • What are a few forest species that are expected to decline and increase due to climate change?
  • What can forest managers do both mitigate and adapt to climate change?

2. Key figures

Forest Composition Shifts
As climate changes, species can often adapt by changing their ranges. Maps show current and projected future distribution of habitats for forest types in the Midwest under two emissions scenarios, a lower scenario that assumes reductions in heat-trapping gas emissions (B1), and a very high scenario that assumes continued increases in emissions (A1FI). Habitats for white/red/jack pine, maple/beech/birch, spruce/fir, and aspen/birch forests are projected to greatly decline from the northern forests, especially under higher emissions scenarios, while various oak forest types are projected to expand.32 While some forest types may not remain dominant, they will still be present in reduced quantities. Therefore, it is more appropriate to assess changes on an individual species basis, since all species within a forest type will not exhibit equal responses to climate change. (Figure source: Prasad et al. 2007 32).

Northwoods Climate Change Response Framework Region
Northwoods Climate Change Response Framework Region (Figure Source: USDA Forest Service 2012195).

Public and Private Forest Land
The figure shows forestland by ownership category in the contiguous U.S. in 2007. 43 Western forests are most often located on public lands, while eastern forests, especially in Maine and in the Southeast, are more often privately held. (Figure source: U.S. Forest Service 2012 43).

Location for Potential Forestry Biomass Resources
Potential forestry bioenergy resources by 2030 at $80 per dry ton of biomass based on current forest area, production rates based on aggressive management for fast-growth, and short rotation bioenergy plantations. Units are oven dry tons (ODT) per square mile at the county level, where an ODT is 2,000 pounds of biomass from which the moisture has been removed. Includes extensive material from existing forestland, such as residues, simulated thinnings, and some pulpwood for bioenergy, among other sources. (Figure source: adapted from U.S. Department of Energy 2011 47).

Forests and Carbon
Historical, current, and projected annual rates of forest ecosystem and harvested wood product CO2 net emissions/sequestration in the U.S. from 1635 to 2055. In the top panel, the change in the historical annual carbon emissions (black line) in the early 1900s corresponds to the peak in the transformation of large parts of the U.S. from forested land to agricultural land uses. Green shading shows this decline in forest land area. In the bottom panel, future projections shown under higher (A2) and lower (B2 and A1B) emissions scenarios show forests as carbon sources (due to loss of forest area and accelerating disturbance rates) rather than sinks in the latter half of this century. The A1B scenario assumes similar emissions to the A2 scenario used in this report through 2050, and a slow decline thereafter. (Data from EPA 2013; 57 USFS 2012; 43 Birdsey 2006 58).

Forest Growth Provides an Important Carbon Sink
Forests are the largest component of the U.S. carbon sink, but growth rates of forests vary widely across the country.Well-watered forests of the Pacific Coast and Southeast absorb considerably more than the arid southwestern forests or the colder northeastern forests. Climate change and disturbance rates, combined with current societal trends regarding land use and forest management, are projected to reduce forest CO2 uptake in the coming decades. 1 Figure shows average forest growth as measured by net primary production from 2000 to 2006. (Figure source: adapted from Running et al. 2004 56).

Carbon Exchange- Gain- Neutral- Loss
Relative vulnerability of different forest regions to climate change is illustrated in this conceptual risk analysis diagram. Forest carbon exchange is the difference between carbon captured in photosynthesis and carbon released by respiration of vegetation and soils. Both photosynthesis and respiration are generally accelerated by higher temperatures, and slowed by water deficits, but the relative strengths of these controls are highly variable. Western forests are inherently limited by evaporation that exceeds precipitation during much of the growing season. Xeric (drier) eastern forests grow on shallow, coarse textured soils and experience water deficits during long periods without rain. Mesic (wetter) eastern forests experience severe water deficits only for relatively brief periods in abnormally dry years so the carbon exchanges are more controlled by temperature fluctuations. (Figure source: adapted from Vose et al. 2012 1).

Forest Vulnerability to a Changing Climate
The figure shows a conceptual climate envelope analysis of forest vulnerability under current and projected future ranges of variability in climate parameters (temperature and precipitation, or alternatively drought duration and intensity). Climate models project increasing temperatures across the U.S. in coming decades, but a range of increasing or decreasing precipitation depending on region. Episodic droughts (where evaporation far exceeds precipitation) are also expected to increase in duration and/or intensity (see Ch. 2: Our Changing Climate). The overall result will be increased vulnerability of forests to periodic widespread regional mortality events resulting from trees exceeding their physiological stress thresholds. 3(Figure source: Allen et al. 2010 3).

Forest Ecosystem Disturbances An example of the variability and distribution of major ecosystem disturbance types in North America, compiled from 2005 to 2009. Forest disturbance varies by topography, vegetation, weather patterns, climate gradients, and proximity to human settlement. Severity is mapped as a percent change in a satellite-derived Disturbance Index. White areas represent natural annual variability, orange represents moderate severity, and red represents high severity. 19 Fire dominates much of the western forest ecosystems, and storms affect the Gulf Coast. Insect damage is widespread but currently concentrated in western regions, and timber harvest is predominant in the Southeast. (Figure source: modified from Goetz et al. 2012, 18Copyright 2012 American Geophysical Union).

3. Other Resources

Climate Impacts in the Midwest- Impacts on Agriculture, Forests and other Ecosystems
This EPA page documents the impacts that the changing climate is and will have on forests in the Midwest.

USDA- Forest Disturbance Processes
This USDA page addresses how climate change is affecting forest compositions and what can be done to mitigate the changes.

USDA- Adapting to Climate Change

USDA- Effects of Climate Variability and Change on Forest Ecosystems: A Comprehensive Science Synthesis for the U.S. Forest Sector
The ability of forests to provide essential services, such as clean drinking water, outdoor recreation, and quality wildlife habitat, will change, especially as populations grow and demands for these services increase.

4. Lesson Plans

OJIBWE LIFEWAY: MAPLE SUGARING AND BIRCH BARK HARVESTING (“ZIIGWAN”-SPRING)
In this unit students will investigate impacts of a warming climate on sugar maple and paper birch, two trees of special importance to the Lake Superior Ojibwe.

Level: Middle School/High School

Trees on the Move: Can Maples and Buckeyes Migrate?
This lesson plan involves multiple activities.

Activity A: What do climate models predict about tree ranges?

This lesson introduces examples of how General Circulation Models [GCMs] predict possible scenarios of climate change. Three methods of visualizing change are introduced and students compare how sugar maples and buckeye trees’ climate niches are likely to be altered.

Level: Middle School/High School

5. Videos

Will Steger Foundation- Minnesota Changing Climate, Deciduous Forest
This video identifies the changes occurring in habitat and species diversity of Deciduous forests in the Midwest.

Will Steger Foundation- Minnesota Changing Climate, Coniferous Forest
This video identifies the changes occurring in habitat and species diversity of Coniferous Forests in the Midwest.

Ohio State University: Adaptation and Forest Management in Great Lakes Forests
This archived webinar shares idifferent ways forest managers and landowners are adapting to climate change.

Ohio State University: Predicting Carbon Storage of Great Lakes Forests in the Year 2050
This archived webinar provided information about, links between forest age, biological and structural complexity, and ecosystem resilience to disturbance; current approaches to predicting carbon storage by future forests; and management options that promote the sustainable delivery of forest ecosystem goods and services.

Phenology and Climate Change
This video features a presentation from University of Minnesota’s Forest Resource faculty Dr. Rebecca Montgomery discussing the connections between phenology and climate change.

Shifting Biomes
This video features a presentation from University of Minnesota’s Cedar Creek staff Mary Spivey, discussing what determines biome boundaries and evidence of their shift north.

NCA Key Message 3: Public Health Risk

visit the full Public Health Risk page

Increased heat wave intensity and frequency, increased humidity, degraded air quality, and reduced water quality will increase public health risks.

1. Guiding Questions

  • What public health risks will arise because of climate change?
  • What steps could be taken to help avoid these problems?
  • What populations are most vulnerable to public health risks?

2. Key figures

Reducing Emissions, Improving Health
Annual reduction in the number of premature deaths and annual change in the number of cases with acute respiratory symptoms due to reductions in particulate matter and ozone caused by reducing automobile exhaust. The maps project health benefits if automobile trips shorter than five miles (round-trip) were eliminated for the 11 largest metropolitan areas in the Midwest. Making 50% of these trips by bicycle just during four summer months would save 1,295 lives and yield savings of more than $8 billion per year from improved air quality, avoided mortality, and reduced health care costs for the upper Midwest alone. (Figure source: Grabow et al. 2012; reproduced with permission from Environmental Health Perspectives).

Elements of Vulnerability to Climate Change
A variety of factors can increase the vulnerability of a specific demographic group to health effects due to climate change. For example, older adults are more vulnerable to heat stress because their bodies are less able to regulate their temperature. Overall population growth is projected to continue to at least 2050, with older adults comprising an increasing proportion of the population. Similarly, there are an increasing number of people who are obese and have diabetes, heart disease, or asthma, which makes them more vulnerable to a range of climate-related health impacts. Their numbers are also rising. The poor are less able to afford the kinds of measures that can protect them from and treat them for various health impacts.

Harmful Bloom Algae
Remote sensing color image of harmful algal bloom in Lake Erie on October 9, 2011. The bright green areas have high concentrations of algae, which can be harmful to human health. The frequency and range of harmful blooms of algae are increasing. 144, 101 Because algal blooms are closely related to climate factors, projected changes in climate could affect algal blooms and lead to increases in water- and food-borne exposures and subsequent cases of illness. 101 Other factors related to increases in harmful algal blooms include shifts in ocean conditions such as excess nutrient inputs. 143, 144, 101 (Figure source: NASA Earth Observatory 145).

Projected Change in Heavy Precipitation Events
Maps show the increase in frequency of extreme daily precipitation events (a daily amount that now occurs just once in 20 years) by the later part of this century (2081-2100) compared to the latter part of the last century (1981-2000). Such extreme events are projected to occur more frequently everywhere in the United States. Under a rapid emissions reduction scenario (RCP 2.6), these events would occur nearly twice as often. For a scenario assuming continued increases in emissions (RCP 8.5), these events would occur up to five times as often. (Figure source: NOAA NCDC / CICS-NC).

Heavy Downpours are Increasing Exposures to Disease
Heavy downpours, which are increasing in the United States, have contributed to increases in heavy flood events (Ch. 2: Our Changing Climate, Key Message 6). The figure above illustrates how people can become exposed to waterborne diseases. Human exposures to waterborne diseases can occur via drinking water, as well as recreational waters. 102, 103, 104, 143, 144, 101 (Figure source: NOAA NCDC / CICS-NC).

Projected Changes in Tick Habitat
The development and survival of blacklegged ticks, their animal hosts, and the Lyme disease bacterium, Borrelia burgdorferi, are strongly influenced by climatic factors, especially temperature, precipitation, and humidity. Potential impacts of climate change on the transmission of Lyme disease include: 1) changes in the geographic distribution of the disease due to the increase in favorable habitat for ticks to survive off their hosts; 2) a lengthened transmission season due to earlier onset of higher temperatures in the spring and later onset of cold and frost; 3) higher tick densities leading to greater risk in areas where the disease is currently observed, due to milder winters and potentially larger rodent host populations; and 4) changes in human behaviors, including increased time outdoors, which may increase the risk of exposure to infected ticks.

Projected Temperature Change of the Hottest Days
The maps show projected increases in the average temperature on the hottest days by late this century (2081-2100) relative to 1986-2005 under a scenario that assumes a rapid reduction in heat-trapping gases (RCP 2.6) and a scenario that assumes continued increases in these gases (RCP 8.5). The hottest days are those so hot they occur only once in 20 years. Across most of the continental United States, those days will be about 10ºF to 15ºF hotter in the future under the higher emissions scenario. (Figure source: NOAA NCDC / CICS-NC).

Wildfire Smoke Has Widespread Health Affects
Wildfires, which are projected to increase in some regions due to climate change, have health impacts that can extend hundreds of miles. Shown here, forest fires in Quebec, Canada, during July 2002 (red circles) resulted in up to a 30-fold increase in airborne fine particle concentrations in Baltimore, Maryland, a city nearly a thousand miles downwind. These fine particles, which are extremely harmful to human health, not only affect outdoor air quality, but also penetrate indoors, increasing the long-distance effects of fires on health. 139 An average of 6.4 million acres burned in U.S. wildfires each year between 2000 and 2010, with 9.5 and 9.1 million acres burned in 2006 and 2012, respectively. 140 Total global deaths from the effects of landscape fire smoke have been estimated at 260,000 to 600,000 annually between the years 1997 and 2006. 141 (Figure source: Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) instrument on the Terra satellite, Land Rapid Response Team, NASA/GSFC).

Ragwood Pollen Season Lengthens
Ragweed pollen season length has increased in central North America between 1995 and 2011 by as much as 11 to 27 days in parts of the U.S. and Canada in response to rising temperatures. Increases in the length of this allergenic pollen season are correlated with increases in the number of days before the first frost. As shown in the figure, the largest increases have been observed in northern cities. (Data updated from Ziska et al. 2011 138; Photo credit: Lewis Ziska, USDA).

3. Other Resources

Climate Impacts in the Midwest- Impacts on Human Health
This EPA page documents the impacts that the changing climate is and will have on public health in the Midwest.

Minnesota Department of Health- Climate and Health
Changes occurring in Minnesota’s climate are affecting our health and wellbeing and will have even greater impacts in the future. The MN Climate and Health Program is helping to understand these impacts and prepare local public health and the public for the health risks.

Minnesota Department of Health- Vector-Borne Diseases

Minnesota Pollution Control Agency: Climate Change in Minnesota
Minnesota is already experiencing impacts from climate change, and will continue to experience impacts to our ecosystems, natural resources, and infrastructure.

Heat in the Heartland: 60 Years of Warning in the Midwest
Report shows the growing health risks of heat waves and hot summer weather in the Midwest.

4. Lesson Plans

Climate Change and Human Health
This activity allows students to explore at their own pace what public health issues are likely from climate change. Issues include airborne diseases, developmental disorders, mental health disorders, vector-borne diseases, and waterborne diseases.

Level: High School 9-12 and College Lower Direct Link

Climate Wisconsin: Extreme Heat
This short video addresses the effects of heat waves on human populations, with African American residents of Milwaukee, Wisconsin, as the visual subjects.

Level: Middle 6-8, High School 9-12 and College Lower Direct Link

5. Videos

Minnesota Department of Health- Climate and Health
The MN Climate & Health Program, in partnership with the MN Environmental Public Health Tracking Program and tpt MN, produced the film: Health and Climate. The film highlights some of the climate changes Minnesota has been experiencing and the subsequent public health impacts. The film suggests ways we can adapt to and mitigate climate change.

Health and Climate Video
The MN Climate & Health Program, in partnership with the MN Environmental Public Health Tracking Program and tpt MN, produced the film: Health and Climate. The film highlights some of the climate changes Minnesota has been experiencing and the subsequent public health impacts. The film suggests ways we can adapt to and mitigate climate change.

NCA Key Message 4: Fossil-Fuel Dependent Electricity System

visit the full Fossil-Fuel Dependent Electricity System page

The Midwest has a highly energy-intensive economy with per capita emissions of greenhouse gases more than 20% higher than the national average. The region also has a large and increasingly utilized potential to reduce emissions that cause climate change.

1. Guiding Questions

  • Why do you think the Midwest has a 20% higher than national average per capita greenhouse gas emission?
  • What could we do to reduce our emissions?
  • Is there potential for solar in the Midwest?
  • What could you do to become less dependent on fossil fuels (or your family)?

2. Key figures

Regional Water, Energy, and Land Use, with Projected Climate Change Impacts
U.S. regions differ in the manner and intensity with which they use, or have available, energy, water, and land. Water bars represent total water withdrawals in billions of gallons per day (except Alaska and Hawai‘i, which are in millions of gallons per day); energy bars represent energy production for the region in 2012; and land represents land cover by type (green bars) or number of people (white and green bars). Only water withdrawals, not consumption, are shown (see Ch. 3: Water). Agricultural water withdrawals include irrigation, livestock, and aquaculture uses. (Data from EIA 2012 [energy], Kenny et al. 2009 [water], and USDA ERS 2007 [land]).

Increasing Number of Cooling Degree Days
These maps show projected average changes in cooling degree days for two future time periods: 2021-2050 and 2070-2099 (as compared to the period 1971-2000). The higher emissions scenario (A2) assumes climate change associated with continued increases in emissions of heat-trapping gases, while the lower emissions scenario (B1) assumes significant reductions. The projections show significant regional variations, with the greatest increases in the southern United States by the end of this century under the higher emissions scenario. Furthermore, population projections suggest continued shifts toward areas that require air conditioning in the summer, thereby increasing the impact of temperature changes on increased energy demand. (Figure source: NOAA NCDC / CICS-NC).

Increase Cooling Demand and Increase Heating Demand
The amount of energy needed to cool (or warm) buildings is proportional to cooling (or heating) degree days. The figure shows increases in population-weighted cooling degree days, which result in increased air conditioning use, and decreases in population-weighted heating degree days, meaning less energy required to heat buildings in winter, compared to the average for 1970-2000. Cooling degree days are defined as the number of degrees that a day’s average temperature is above 65°F, while heating degree days are the number of degrees a day’s average temperature is below 65°F. As shown, the increase in cooling needs is greater than the decrease in heating needs (Data from NOAA NCDC 2012).

3. Other Resources

Minnesota Department of Health- Climate and Health: Air Quality
Climate change affects air quality and exposure to air pollutants in many ways. Specific air pollutants that are likely to be increased by climate change and result in negative health impacts include particulate matter, ozone, and pollen and mold.

EERE: Clean Energy in My State
Select your state to find energy efficiency and renewable energy information about it, including statistics, renewable resource maps, policies and incentives, and U.S. Department of Energy projects and activities.

Minnesota Environment and Energy Report Card
pg. 14

DNR- Climate Change and Renewable Energy: Management Foundation
This document provides a platform for DNR staff to discuss and build management strategies to address climate and renewable energy challenges. The report describes the current science on climate and renewable energy issues and provides a common framework for exploring management responses.

4. Lesson Plans

Our Energy System
This activity involves an interactive diagram from the National Academy of Sciences. It shows how we rely on a variety of primary energy sources, such as solar, nuclear, coal, hydro, wind, geothermal, natural gas biomass, and oil to supply energy to all sectors.

Level: High School 9-12, College Lower, Graduate/ Professional, and Informal Direct Link

Energy 101: Algae- to- Fuels
This video comes from a series that explain the process of converting micro-algae into fuel. It argues that algae-based biofuels hold enormous potential for helping reduce dependence on imported oil.

Level: Middle 6-8 and High School 9-12 Direct Link

5. Videos

EPA Releases New Climate Change Video Series / The Series Supports President Obama’s Climate Action Plan and Highlights Benefits of Reducing Energy Consumption
The EPA released a series of videos that highlight how to lower energy consumption.

Increased Emissions: Climate Change, Lines of Evidence: Chapter 4
The National Research Council is pleased to present this video that explains how scientists have arrived at the current state of knowledge about recent climate change and its causes.

NCA Key Message 5: Increased Rainfall and Flooding

visit the full Increased Rainfall and Flooding page

Extreme rainfall events and flooding have increased during the last century, and these trends are expected to continue, causing erosion, declining water quality, and negative impacts on transportation, agriculture, human health, and infrastructure.

1. Guiding Questions

  • What can be done to avoid some of the problems associated with more rainfall?
  • How can communities adapt to the increased rainfall?
  • Who will be more affected by the increased rainfall?

2. Key figures

When it Rains, it Pours

Trends in Flood Magnitude
Trend magnitude (triangle size) and direction (green = increasing trend, brown = decreasing trend) of annual flood magnitude from the 1920s through 2008. Flooding in local areas can be affected by multiple factors, including land-use change, dams, and diversions of water for use. Most significant are increasing trends for floods in Midwest and Northeast, and a decreasing trend in the Southwest.(Figure source: Peterson et al. 2013 89).

Precipitation patterns affect many aspects of life, from agriculture to urban storm drains. These maps show projected changes for the middle of the current century (2041-2070) relative to the end of the last century (1971-2000) across the Midwest under continued emissions (A2 scenario). Top left: the changes in total annual average precipitation. Across the entire Midwest, the total amount of water from rainfall and snowfall is projected to increase. Top right: increase in the number of days with very heavy precipitation (top 2% of all rainfalls each year). Bottom left: increases in the amount of rain falling in the wettest 5-day period over a year. Both (top right and bottom left) indicate that heavy precipitation events will increase in intensity in the future across the Midwest. Bottom right: change in the average maximum number of consecutive days each year with less than 0.01 inches of precipitation. An increase in this variable has been used to indicate an increase in the chance of drought in the future. (Figure source: NOAA NCDC / CICS-NC).

Projected Change in Heavy Precipitation Events
Maps show the increase in frequency of extreme daily precipitation events (a daily amount that now occurs just once in 20 years) by the later part of this century (2081-2100) compared to the latter part of the last century (1981-2000). Such extreme events are projected to occur more frequently everywhere in the United States. Under a rapid emissions reduction scenario (RCP 2.6), these events would occur nearly twice as often. For a scenario assuming continued increases in emissions (RCP 8.5), these events would occur up to five times as often. (Figure source: NOAA NCDC / CICS-NC).

Projected Changes in Seasonal Precipitation
Climate change affects precipitation patterns as well as temperature patterns. The maps show projected changes in average precipitation by season for 2041–2070 compared to 1971–1999, assuming emissions of heat-trapping gases continue to rise (A2 scenario). Note significantly drier conditions in the Southwest in spring and Northwest in summer, as well as significantly more precipitation (some of which could fall as snow) projected for northern areas in winter and spring.Hatched areas indicate that the projected changes are significant and consistent among models. White areas indicate that the changes are not projected to be larger than could be expected fromnatural variability. (Figure source: NOAA NCDC / CICS-NC).

3. Other Resources

Climate Impacts in the Midwest- Impacts on Water Sources
This EPA page documents the impacts that the changing climate is and will have on rainfall in the Midwest.

Minnesota Department of Health- Climate and Health: Water Quality and Quantity
Climate change may impact Minnesota’s water quality and quantity by increasing precipitation, decreasing precipitation, and increasing water temperatures of lakes and streams.

Minnesota Pollution Control Agency: Climate Change in Minnesota
Minnesota is already experiencing impacts from climate change, and will continue to experience impacts to our ecosystems, natural resources, and infrastructure.

Minnesota Department of Natural Resources: Flooding Rains in Northeast Minnesota, June 19-20, 2012
The most damaging flood in Duluth's history began when heavy rains fell over already saturated ground, making the situation worse. The main event occurred from around noon on the 19th through about noon on the 20th.

Climate Wizard
This map shows the precipitation change projected by the middle model.Areas that are blue are projected to increase by at least half of the models, and areas that are yellow to red are projected to decrease in precipitation by at least half of the models.

4. Lesson Plans

OJIBWE LIFEWAY: WILD RICE HARVESTING (“DAGWAAGIN”-FALL)
In this unit you will investigate impacts of a warming climate on wild rice or “manoomin,” as it is called in the Ojibwe language.

Level: Middle School/High School

Climographs: Temperature, precipitation, and the Human Condition
In this activity, students learn how to read, analyze, and construct climographs. These climographs are a graphic way of displaying monthly average temperature and precipitation. Students also practice matching climographs to various locations and summarize global-scale climate patterns revealed by comparing climographs.

Level: Middle 6-8 and High School 9-12 Direct Link

5. Videos

Media Matters for America: What the Press is Missing about Midwest Floods
As Midwestern states assess the damage wrought by record flooding in recent weeks, scientists tell Media Matters that the media has missed an important part of the story: the impact of climate change. A Media Matters analysis finds that less than 3 percent of television and print coverage of the flooding mentioned climate change, which has increased the frequency of large rain storms and exacerbated flood risks.

NCA Key Message 6: Increased Risk to the Great Lakes

visit the full Increased Risk to the Great Lakes page

Climate change will exacerbate a range of risks to the Great Lakes, including changes in the range and distribution of certain fish species, increased invasive species and harmful blooms of algae, and declining beach health. Ice cover declines will lengthen the commercial navigation season.

1. Guiding Questions

  • List the expected positive and negative impacts of climate change on the Great Lakes.
  • What could be done to lessen the negative impacts?
  • How will these impacts affect the North Shore and other areas surrounding the Great Lakes?

2. Key figures

Ice Cover in the Great Lakes
Great Lakes ice coverage has declined substantially, as shown by these decade averages of annual maximum ice coverage since reliable measurements began, although there is substantial variability from year to year. Less ice, coupled with more frequent and intense storms, leaves shores vulnerable to erosion and flooding and could harm property and fish habitat.,, Reduced ice cover also has the potential to lengthen the shipping season. The navigation season increased by an average of eight days between 1994 and 2011. Increased shipping days benefit commerce but could also increase shoreline scouring and bring in more invasive species.,,(Figure source: Data updated from Bai and Wang 2012).

Temperatures are Rising in the Midwest
Annual average temperatures (red line) across the Midwest show a trend towards increasing temperature. The trend (heavy black line) calculated over the period 1895-2012 is equal to an increase of 1.5°F. (Figure source: updated from Kunkel et al. 2013).

Observed Changes in Lake Stratification and Ice Covered Area
The length of the season in which differences in lake temperatures with depth cause stratification (separate density layers) is increasing in many lakes. In this case, measurements show stratification has been increasing in Lake Tahoe (top left) since the 1960s and in Lake Superior (top right) since the early 1900s in response to increasing air and surface water temperatures (see also Ch. 18: Midwest). In Lake Tahoe, because of its large size (relative to inflow) and resulting long water-residence times, other influences on stratification have been largely overwhelmed, and warming air and water temperatures have caused progressive declines in near-surface density, leading to longer stratification seasons (by an average of 20 days), decreasing the opportunities for deep lake mixing, reducing oxygen levels, and causing impacts to many species and numerous aspects of aquatic ecosytems. 122 Similar effects are observed in Lake Superior, 36 where the stratification season is lengthening (top right) and annual ice-covered area is declining (bottom); both observed changes are consistent with increasing air and water temperatures.

3. Other Resources

Climate Impacts in the Midwest- Climate Change Impacts on the Great Lakes
This EPA page documents the impacts that the changing climate is and will have on the Great Lakes and other water resources in the Midwest.

Minnesota Department of Health- Climate and Health: Water Quality and Quantity
Climate change may impact Minnesota’s water quality and quantity by increasing precipitation, decreasing precipitation, and increasing water temperatures of lakes and streams.

Minnesota Sea Grant: Climate Change in Minnesota and the Lake Superior Basin
Keeping true to the Minnesota Sea Grant mission and vision, our climate focus is on science and how a changing climate could affect Lake Superior, aquatic resources in Minnesota, and the people and communities that rely on these resources. In addition to helping citizens, communities, and industries understand how the region is responding to climate change, we encourage them to actively reduce their carbon footprints and to plan for a new climate future.

EPA- Lake Superior Binational Program

Preparing for Climate Change in the Great Lakes Region

Great Lakes Restoration in the Threat of Global Warming

Climate and Water Quality Project
A collaborative research team, supported by the National Science Foundation, will evaluate the land-lake-air feedbacks associated with climate and extreme weather events on Great Lakes communities, industries and the ecosystem.

EPA- Climate Change Indicators in the Great Lakes
This figure displays how water levels in each of the Great Lakes have changed since 1860. For each year, the shaded band shows the range of monthly average water levels, and the line in the middle shows the annual average. The graph uses the 1981 to 2010 average as a baseline for depicting the change. Choosing a different baseline period would not change the shape of the data over time. Lakes Michigan and Huron are shown together because they are connected at the same water level.

Minnesota Environment and Energy Report Card
Pg. 1

USGS - Climate Change and Water Resources Management: A Federal Perspective
The purpose of this interagency report prepared by the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS), U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE), Bureau of Reclamation (Reclamation), and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) is to explore strategies to improve water management by tracking, anticipating, and responding to climate change. The key points below briefly summarize the chapters in this report and represent underlying assumptions needed to address the many impacts of climate change.

Great Lakes Integrated Sciences and Assessments- Preparing the Great Lakes Region for Climate Change
The Great Lakes Integrated Sciences + Assessments Center is a collaboration between the University of Michigan and Michigan State University. As one of eleven NOAA-funded regional centers, GLISA builds capacity to manage risks from climate change and variability in the Great Lakes region.

Michigan Sea Grant- Climate Change Implications
This research project focuses on the 1836 Treaty Waters because it is an important fishery region for Michigan, there is a long-time series of population data lake whitefish in the area, and there is a geographic gradient.

Michigan Sea Grant
University of Michigan researchers publish paper on the potential impacts of climate change on lake-effect snow.

4. Lesson Plans

OJIBWE LIFEWAY: FISHING (“NIIBIN”- SUMMER)
In this unit you will investigate impacts of a warming climate on cold and coolwater fish species. Level: Middle School/High School

Water Levels on the Great Lakes
In this activity students analyze, interpret and make inferences from web-based data on Great Lakes water levels.

Level: Middle School/High School

5. Videos

Changing Planet: Warming Lakes
The video addresses impact of warming temperatures on major lakes of the world with specific focus on Lake Superior and Lake Tanganyika. It discusses the science of water stratification and its impact on lake ecosystems and on human populations whose livelihoods depend on the lakes. Level: Middle/High School

Lake Superior and Climate Change: Part 1
From the University of Minnesota’s Institute on the Environment.

Lake Superior and Climate Change: Part 2
From the University of Minnesota’s Institute on the Environment.

Lake Superior and Climate Change: Part 3
From the University of Minnesota’s Institute on the Environment.

Alliance for the Great Lakes
Place-base climate change education resources.

Climate Change in the Great Lakes Region
Dr. Donald Scavia with the Great Lakes Integrated Sciences and Assessments Center and the Graham Enviormental Sustainability Institute at the University of Michigan discuss the effects of climate change in the Great Lakes. The presentation was prepared for an online workshop on the College of Exploration online campus at coexploration.org/CCEP-GL/ Part of a National Science Foundation funded Climate Change Education Partnerships project.

General Midwest Resources

Lesson Plans/Simulations applicable to all key messages

Minnesota’s Changing Climate Curriculum and Online Classroom

“Gikinoo’wizhiwe Onji Waaban” (Guiding for Tomorrow), Changing Climate, Changing Culture

Climate Change: A Wisconsin Activity Guide

Webinar: Global Changes, Local Impacts: The National Climate Assessment