95.3 / 88.5 FM Grand Rapids and 95.3 FM Muskegon
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
Available On Air Stations

State climatologist says global warming making Great Lakes region warmer and wetter

Great Lakes satellite photo

Michigan’s state climatologist is predicting warmer and wetter climate patterns for the state as a result of climate change. In recent decades Great Lakes states have experienced warmer and wetter climate patterns generating 10 to 15 percent more annual precipitation in the last 20 to 30 years.

While additional water can be a good thing for farmers, too much of it creates challenges. Jeffrey Andresen, state climatologist for Michigan, says flooding and its economic impacts is the greatest challenge.

“As we see more precipitation it’s occurring both because we have more wet days than we used to but also more extreme events and more precipitation per rain or snow per event. Both of those things are increasing with time but especially those heavy events; two, three four inches type events are more frequent than they’ve been in the past. And of course, that’s many times a problem. We just have too much water in too little time for it to run off.”

The temperature has also been on the rise. Although subtle, Andreson explains there’s been about a two-degree mean temperature increase since the early 1980's. He says it’s not symmetrical with warmer winters and warmer evenings.

Toward the later half of the century the forecast calls for more heating increasing water evaporation.

“Precipitation could become, even if there’s more of it, it could become more erratic. And so, even if there’s more it falls on fewer days and that’s a challenge, too.”

Andresen was a keynote speaker at Grand Valley State University's Climate Change Education Solutions Summit.

Patrick Center, WGVU News.