Issues of the Environment: Expect More Snow And Frigid Temperatures To Come

Jan 29, 2014

Had enough of the cold and snow already? It has been the snowiest January in this area in history. Add in the polar vortex and frigid temperatures, and it's been a somewhat trying winter. Why is it happening, and will it continue to happen in winters to come? 

 This week on Issues of the Environment our guest is  Dr. Tom Kovacs, Associate Professor of Meteorology at Eastern Michigan University.  Kovaks teaches courses on the effects of climate change on weather and will discuss the consequences for our county.

 

Here’s the top January snowfall for Ann Arbor:

A view of Michigan from space
A view of Michigan from space
Credit Space Science And Engineering Center- University of Wisconsin - Madison

  1.  1999: 36 inches

  2.  1978: 34.3 inches

  3.  2005: 29.1 inches

  4.  2014: 27.9 inches

  5.  1893: 27.1 inches

  6.  2009: 27.0 inches
 

Overview:

1.  In the next few decades, longer growing seasons and rising carbon dioxide levels will increase yields of some crops, though those benefits will be increasingly offset by the occurrence of extreme events such as heat waves, droughts, and floods. In the long term, combined stresses associated with climate change are expected to decrease agricultural productivity, especially without significant advances in genetic and agronomic technology.

  2.  The composition of the region’s forests is expected to change as rising temperatures drive habitats for many tree species northward. The region’s role as a net absorber of carbon is at risk from disruptions to forest ecosystems, in part due to climate change.

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

  4.  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.

  5.  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.

  6.  Climate change will exacerbate a range of risks to the Great Lakes region, including changes in the range and distribution of important commercial and recreational fish species, increased invasive species, declining beach health, and harmful blooms of algae. Declines in ice cover will continue to lengthen the commercial navigation season.
 

  Issues of the Environment is produced in partnership with the Washtenaw County Environmental Health Division.  — David Fair is the News Director, and host of Morning Edition on 89.1 WEMU. Follow him on twitter @DavidFairWEMU You  can contact him at 734.487.3363,  or email him dfair@emich.edu.