Climate Change Report Warns of Warming Midwest

First Posted: Jan 18, 2013 03:40 PM EST

It's probably the last thing that the U.S. Midwest wants to hear after the 2012 drought. A new report has shown that climate change will lead to more frequent and intense heat waves while degrading air and water quality. Intense rainstorms and floods will also become more common, increasing existing risks to the Great Lakes region.

The report, which was directed by the federal government to assess the key impacts of climate change on every region in the country, was conducted by a team of more than 240 scientists. The Midwest chapter of the report, though, showed that climate change may affect the region more strongly than first realized.

According to the report, climate change will most likely worsen an abundance of existing problems in the Great Lakes- changes in the range and distribution commercial and recreational fish species, increases in invasive species, declines in beach health, and more frequent algae blooms. The one positive effect would be the decline in ice cover that could lengthen the commercial shipping season.

It isn't only the Great Lakes that will be affected, though. Agriculture will also take a hit. More frequent occurrences of heat waves, droughts, and floods will vastly affect farming practices.

In the Midwest, the rate of warming has accelerated over the past several decades. Between 1900 and 2010, the average air temperature increased by more than one degree Fahrenheit. Between 1950 and 2010, the average temperature increased twice as quickly and between 1980 and 2010 it increased three times as quickly. Needless to say, that does not bode well for the Midwest.

The region has recently suffered a devastating drought which left crops withered and stream beds cracked and dry. Although there have been worse droughts in the past, the prediction that these conditions will worsen in the future leaves the Midwest in a precarious position. 

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