U-M authors of new US climate report available to comment
ANN ARBOR—Two University of Michigan researchers are among the authors of the Midwest chapter of the latest National Climate Assessment, released on Friday, and are available to discuss the report. Also, the dean of U-M’s School for Environment and Sustainability can comment on the report’s significance and the timing of its release.
The Midwest chapter of the Fourth National Climate Assessment, Volume II, says the region will likely face adverse human health impacts from increased flooding, increased heat, and lower air and water quality under a changing climate. Declines in agricultural productivity and forest health are projected. And the Great Lakes—already under stress from pollution, nutrient and sediment inputs from agriculture, and invasive species—are in a state of flux: lake surface temperatures are increasing, lake ice cover is declining, and summer evaporation rates are increasing.
Maria Carmen Lemos is a professor and associate dean at the U-M School for Environment and Sustainability. She is also co-director of GLISA, the Great Lakes Integrated Sciences and Assessments. She is an author of the Midwest chapter of the latest national climate assessment.
“Climate change will only further exacerbate the vulnerability of populations under stress in the Midwest because of economic and social inequality, such as poor communities in legacy cities, tribes and Indigenous populations,” she said. “However, the chapter also finds that the Midwest may actually experience migration into the region because of climate change. Because this is a long-term prospect, the report may give cities the impetus to understand climate impacts and adapt to them to better prepare for this possibility.”
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Jenna Jorns is program manager of the Great Lakes Integrated Sciences and Assessments (GLISA) and is based at the U-M School for Environment and Sustainability. She is an author of the report’s Midwest chapter.
“The Midwest chapter of the latest national climate assessment shows that the impacts of climate change already are, and will continue to be, deep and widespread in our region,” she said. “Organizations working at the intersection of climate information and decision making in the region, like the Great Lakes Integrated Sciences and Assessments and the Great Lakes Climate Adaptation Network, are helping to mainstream climate adaptation planning to integrate climate-smart and equity-focused information into all types of city planning, including natural hazards and infrastructure planning. Continuing support for these types of collaborations and scaling up successful tools and processes will be critical to help communities better prepare for the future.”
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Jonathan Overpeck, dean of the School for Environment and Sustainability, is a climate scientist who is an expert on paleoclimate, climate-vegetation interactions, climate and weather extremes, sea-level rise, climate change, impacts of climate change and options for dealing with climate change. Though he is not an author of the new national climate assessment, Overpeck served as a lead author on the authoritative Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change 2007 and 2014 reports.
“The National Climate Assessment report represents the official scientific word on climate change from the U.S. government and represents the state of science knowledge well. Climate change is caused by humans, mainly through the burning of fossil fuels, and is already having costly impacts on our nation,” he said. “In Michigan, we’re seeing warming, more heat waves and climate-related increases in infectious disease. But impacts are relatively modest compared to other parts of the country. This means more people will likely want to move to Michigan.
“At the same time, climate change is increasing the intensity of rainfall, runoff and flood risks in the state and this, along with the warming, will put all of the Great Lakes at greater risk of harmful algal blooms. Thus, Michigan has urgent reasons to shift away from the burning of coal, oil and natural gas and to become a state powered by clean, renewable energy from wind and the sun.
“The release of the NCA report on Black Friday, and the censoring of science at the release, both reflect federal leadership’s desire to play down the huge risks associated with climate change and also the harmful costs of burning fossil fuels.”
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