5 things to prepare for climate change

By KAREN HOPPER USHER

Capital News Service

LANSING — Climate change can feel daunting. What’s an ordinary person supposed to do about chemicals in the air making the planet radically hotter?

While it’s true that there are things you can do to leave a smaller footprint on the planet–walk more, waste less — some scientists think we could be close to the point of no return.

If climate change is inevitable, though, that doesn’t mean the consequences can’t be managed. In fact, a number of state officials and academics are planning ahead to help people cope with the effects of climate change.

Here are five things the state of Michigan does to make climate change easier to bear. This list is not exhaustive. Continue reading

Climate change: a tourist trap

By JACK NISSEN

Capital News Service

LANSING — In 2015, Crystal Mountain Lodge in Thompsonville was saved by an unlikely rescuer: summer.

For the first time, strong summer business bailed out the Northern Michigan ski resort due to the previous mediocre-at-best winter.

“From a traffic standpoint, we are now a 50/50 split,” said Brian Lawson, a public relations representative at the ski lodge located in Benzie County southwest of Traverse City “We have as many people here in the summer, if not more than we do in the winter.”

That’s a recent development for the resort and representative of the volatility of an industry facing the impacts of climate change. There’s more.

The relationship between weather and visits to the North Shore region in Minnesota was recently analyzed to see how it impacts how people decide to spend their time. Continue reading

Climate change tinkers with animal relationships, survival

By JACK NISSEN

Capital News Service

LANSING — How climate change manipulates relationships among organisms and ecosystems remains largely a mystery.

The only predictable is that species that do well in warmer conditions might have an advantage over species that do well in colder conditions, said Hank Vanderploeg, a researcher with the Great Lakes Environmental Research Laboratory in Ann Arbor.

Scientists are beginning to explore what kinds of changes species will be experiencing as the colder months begin to grapple with warmer temperatures. But they don’t yet know how all the rules of the game fit together.

It is an ecological experiment taking place, said Jeffrey Andresen, Michigan’s state climatologist and a geography professor at Michigan State University. Keeping up with what is happening is one thing, but making predictions is difficult. Continue reading

Uncertainty floods the future of Great Lakes’ water quality, quantity

By JACK NISSEN

Capital News Service

LANSING — For climate change experts, it’s a world of “ifs” when trying to predict what will happen to the waters of the Great Lakes — including a surge of algae blooms.

And while there are some educated guesses out there, not much can be said for certain.

“One thing that we do know about projections for the future is all of them, and there are no exceptions, all of them call for warmer mean temperatures,” said Jeffrey Andresen, Michigan’s state climatologist and a geography professor at Michigan State University.

Now there’s a lot to take away from warmer mean temperatures projections, but again, few things are certain. Continue reading

Will the whole country descend on Michigan?

By KAREN HOPPER USHER

Capital News Service

LANSING — Some Michiganders smirked when a Popular Science video suggested the state would be a good place to live in 2100 to escape the consequences of climate change.

As if it isn’t already!

But the magazine’s broader point was climate change. Between oceans flooding coasts, wildfires torching the West, mosquitoes spreading disease and nasty storms leveling cities, the continental U.S. will be in rough shape by 2100. But Michigan and northern Wisconsin and Minnesota are going to be relatively unburdened by climate change.

Or so the magazine says.

A little warmer, sure, but not on fire or underwater, unlike those other places. Continue reading

What to expect from climate change

By JACK NISSEN & KAREN HOPPER USHER

Capital News Service

LANSING — The planet got hot, fast. Each of the last three years set records in terms of mean global temperature over the past 150 years.

On average, the Great Lakes region is 2 two degrees warmer than it was in 1912, according to the Great Lakes Integrated Sciences Assessment, which is produced by the University of Michigan and Michigan State University. By 2100, average temperatures could increase by 11 degrees Fahrenheit.

It’s rare, but the planet’s overall climate has changed rapidly in the past. Volcanic explosions and meteor impacts did the trick then. This time around it’s us. We’re using too many fossil fuels, which puts more greenhouse gases into the atmosphere and heats up the planet faster than before, according to the fifth assessment report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. Continue reading

Climate change threatens Great Lakes forest health, researchers say

By MARIE ORTTENBURGER

Capital News Service

LANSING — Great Lakes forests will get warmer and suffer more frequent short-term droughts, scientists say.

“We know climate change is going to really stress these systems in ways they haven’t been stressed in the last several thousand years,” said Stephen Handler, a Houghton-based climate change specialist with the U.S. Forest Service.

How trees will respond to such different growing conditions is unknown. But experts say they can’t wait to find out.

“You don’t wait until the car has already gone over the cliff,” Handler said. “You hit the brakes when you can. You steer and find a better way around the cliff.” Continue reading

Warmer weather means longer growing season for wine grapes

By NATASHA BLAKELY

Capital News Service

Michigan grapes. Image: Steven Schultze.

Michigan grapes. Image: Steven Schultze.

LANSING — Good news for Michigan vineyards: the time grapes have to ripen has dramatically increased over the past few decades.

“It’s nearly grown an entire month in just four decades,” said Steven Schultze, an assistant professor of geography at the University of South Alabama who discovered the shift as a doctoral student at Michigan State University.

“One of our biggest findings, just since 1971, the growing season in Southwest Michigan has increased by 28.8 days,” Schultze said. Continue reading

Weather, water conditions pose threats to Isle Royale

By COLLEEN OTTE

Capital News Service

LANSING — The introduction of invasive species and the decline of native species are among the most pressing issues facing Isle Royale, according to the national park’s top administrator.

And rising temperatures make those problems even worse, Park Superintendent Phyllis Green said.

detroitriverfront

Satellite image of Isle Royale in northwest Lake Superior. Credit: NASA.


“Some things that factor into the islands pretty heavily are that winds over the Great Lakes are stronger – Lake Superior being about 12 percent higher than it was in 1985,” Green said in a talk at Michigan State University. “And the waters in the Great Lakes are hotter, increasing faster than the air temperatures.”
Continue reading

Michigan cities brace for a changing climate

By DANIELLE WOODWARD

Capital News Service

LANSING — Some Michigan cities are bracing for a climate change.

In Detroit, six groups are planning to reduce the city’s carbon footprint.

The Detroit Climate Action Collaborative is one of several efforts by cities to prepare for a warming climate linked to fossil fuel emissions.

Grand Rapids, Ann Arbor Marquette and Ludington are among those planning for climate trends that they are already seeing, said Luke Forest, program coordinator at the Michigan Municipal League.

Grand Rapids officials see problems now.

“We’ve seen different impacts, whether it’s flooding from intense storms or heat waves,” said Haris Alibasic, director of Grand Rapids Office of Energy and Sustainability.

Continue reading