Adapting to climate change
Climate change is already occurring in Minnesota and is affecting our state’s environmental, economic and social systems. Minnesota state government is taking action to address these emerging challenges. A new report describing climate trends and impacts, as well as Minnesota state government responses, has been issued by the state’s Interagency Climate Adaptation Team (ICAT).
The focus of this report is climate adaptation, which is defined as developing and implementing strategies, initiatives and measures to help human and natural systems cope with climate change impacts. The 2013 ICAT report highlights how state government is working to adapt to the changing climate, reduce risks and impacts, and increase the resilience of our communities.
Since July 2009, Minnesota state agencies have been collaborating on climate adaptation efforts through ICAT. ICAT currently includes representatives from the following Minnesota state departments and agencies: Agriculture, Commerce (Division of Energy Resources), Health, Natural Resources, Pollution Control, Public Safety (Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Management), and Transportation, as well as the Board of Water and Soil Resources and the Metropolitan Council.
To summarize climate impacts, this report draws from the National Climate Assessment, an important document issued approximately every four years by the U.S. Global Change Research Program, a collaboration between 13 federal government agencies. The most recent National Climate Assessment was issued in draft form in early 2013, to be finalized in 2014, and is available on the National Climate Assessment Development Advisory Committee website.
What can we expect?
According to the draft National Climate Assessment, some of the key elements of climate change observed and projected for the Midwest include:
- Increasing temperatures
- Risks to the Great Lakes
- Change in the amount and character of precipitation
As informed by climate data and trends, Minnesota state agencies are identifying significant current and future climate change impacts. These impacts, including variable and extreme changes in temperature and precipitation, are expected to have substantial effects on public health, community infrastructure, ecosystem health and environmental quality. Climate impacts include flooding, extreme heat, intense storms, drought, air and water pollution, vector-borne and other infectious diseases, invasive species and ecological changes, such as alteration of seasonality. The report summarizes currently observed and anticipated impacts of climate change identified by ICAT member agencies, and includes descriptions for each agency of its activities to address these.
While Minnesota state agencies are carrying out a wide range of activities related to adaptation, additional opportunities also exist for agencies to increase their work together on this issue. Agencies will continue to seek avenues of collaboration in the following seven priority areas (these are not ranked in terms of importance):
- Building resilience to extreme precipitation
- Implementing best practices that achieve multiple benefits
- Protecting human health
- Strengthening existing ecosystems by addressing ongoing challenges and risks
- Building partnerships with local governments
- Quantifying climate impacts
- Conducting public and community outreach, education and training
For more information
For more information about the Interagency Climate Adaptation Team, contact Paul Moss, MPCA, at 651-757-2586.