Wild Side: Is it cold enough for you?A south wind blew in some 20-degree air last Sunday afternoon. It seemed absolutely balmy after a month that was about 15 degrees colder than average. It was a treat to be outside without my nose instantly freezing up and triggering a sneezing jag.
By: Dan Wilcox, outdoor columnist, River Falls Journal
A south wind blew in some 20-degree air last Sunday afternoon. It seemed absolutely balmy after a month that was about 15 degrees colder than average. It was a treat to be outside without my nose instantly freezing up and triggering a sneezing jag.
The wildlife seemed to appreciate the relative warmth. There were a lot of fresh deer, turkey, fox and rabbit tracks. Flocks of juncos, sparrows and cardinals were feeding in the brush on the sunny south-facing hillside behind the house.
All that Canadian air and below-zero temperatures had us burning plenty of firewood to keep the house warm. I spent a couple of weekends mostly working in my shop instead of being out snowshoeing or working in the woods. It’s just not fun to be out for long in way-below-zero weather. My thoughts turned to warm blue water and palm trees waving in the trade wind.
We are in for a warm-up. This week’s daytime high temperatures are forecasted to be up near freezing. Longer-term projections are for warmer conditions as well.
A historical analysis and projections of Wisconsin’s climate were done for the Wisconsin Initiative on Climate Change Impacts (WICCI), a collaborative project of the UW-Madison and the DNR.
The WICCI scientists are assessing the potential impacts of climate change on natural and human systems including wildlife habitat, water resources, forestry and agriculture, human health and urban conditions. The working groups are using future climate projections to assess consequences on these systems and to develop recommendations on how to adapt.
The primary source of funding for the WICCI climate research is Wisconsin’s Focus on Energy, a non-profit, public-private organization formed to help residents and businesses manage rising energy costs, promote in-state economic development and protect the environment.
Data from weather stations across Wisconsin over the last 30 years indicates that the state has been warming consistent with the global pattern. The state has warmed about 1.1 degrees Fahrenheit annually between 1950 and 2006. Northwestern Wisconsin has warmed more than the rest of the state.
Wisconsin has become wetter, with an increase in annual precipitation of 3.1 inches, with most of that increase in southern and western Wisconsin. Northern Wisconsin has become drier, averaging 1 to 2 inches less average annual precipitation.
Using realistic estimates of future greenhouse gas emissions, the UW-Madison scientists are forecasting significantly warmer winters, altered patterns of precipitation and more severe weather events in Wisconsin. They anticipate that by 2050 Wisconsin will have annual mean warming of between 4 and 9 degrees.
According to UW scientists, Wisconsin is not necessarily getting hotter, it is getting less cold. Since 1950, the number of below-zero winter days has diminished by five days in southern Wisconsin and by 12 to 18 days in northwest Wisconsin, a 10 to 30 percent reduction in the frequency of very cold days.
As disruptive as climate change may be in the future, my nose will appreciate fewer below zero days.
Please send any comments and suggestions for this column to me at firstname.lastname@example.org.