Climate Adaptation in Wisconsin Part 2: Climate and extreme event impacts to health, infrastructure, and culture

Climate Adaptation in Wisconsin Part 2: Climate and extreme event impacts to health, infrastructure, and culture

Daniel Vimont
University of Wisconsin - Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences
Time Slot: 
Concurrent Sessions 3
Session Type: 

Climate change has both direct and indirect impacts on society and the built environment. Impacts to – and interactions among – human health, energy production and transmission, and hydrological infrastructure, are some of the most visible and significant manifestations of climate change. Many of these impacts arise due to changes in extreme events, such as heat waves, drought, or extreme precipitation. In this session we will discuss expected changes to extreme climatic events, impacts of those events, and efforts at developing adaptation strategies for expected changes. While the focus will be on Wisconsin natural resources, the activities and techniques can be generally applicable. Time will be allotted for a question and answer period at the end of the session.


Climate Change and Extreme Weather
Stephen J Vavrus, Nelson Institute Center for Climatic Research
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Like the rest of the country, Wisconsin has experienced an overall increase in extreme weather during recent decades. More extreme rainfall accounts for much of this positive trend, including some high-profile events such as last summer’s record deluge in the Madison area. Climate models project a greater frequency and intensity of heavy rainfalls and heat waves in Wisconsin and elsewhere, pointing to an urgent need for enhanced adaptation strategies. Improvements in downscaled climate modeling are allowing greater confidence in predicting extreme weather trends across the state and around the country. This presentation will highlight the major changes expected in the types and magnitude of extreme weather in Wisconsin through the rest of this century.

Adapting to the Public Health Impacts of Climate Change in Wisconsin
Colleen Moran, Wisconsin Division of Public Health
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The Wisconsin Department of Health Services Climate and Health Program works to increase the resilience of Wisconsinites to the negative health impacts of climate change through the implementation of public health adaptation strategies. This work is funded through a Center for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) Building Resilience Against Climate Effects (BRACE) grant. This work has included 1) forecasting climate impacts and assessing vulnerabilities, 2) projecting the disease burden of climate events, 3) assessing public health interventions, 4) developing and implementing a climate and health adaptation plan, and 5) evaluating impact and improving quality of activities. Currently, the Climate and Health Program is focusing its adaptation strategies on three main climate change exposure pathways: increased precipitation (flooding), extreme heat, and vectorborne disease. This talk will focus on three recent adaptation strategies related to flooding and extreme heat and how they’ve impacted public health in Wisconsin.

Do Culture and Science Agree? – Making Climate Change Come Alive!
Catherine A. Techtmann, University of Wisconsin Extension
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Despite research documenting the importance of place-based evidence of climate change being as, or more, effective than analytical data to increasing climate literacy and action. As a result, many climate education strategies fail to resonate with audiences resulting in inaction.

In this session, we will demonstrate how to use the “Gikinoo’wizhiwe Onji Waaban" (Guiding for Tomorrow) or “G-WOW” climate literacy model to relate climate change to audiences by revealing how it is affecting the sustainability of habitats and species that support cultural and economic practices they value, by integrating place-based evidence with science. We will share how traditional ecological knowledge (TEK) of the Lake Superior Ojibwe can provide a baseline for evaluating a changing climate versus weather variability. The G-WOW model’s unique method of linking qualitative and quantitative evidence makes it applicable to all cultures and locations. We will share examples of how the G-WOW model is being applied to provoke community level climate action, outreach resources, and upcoming training opportunities for youth and adult audiences.

Building Coastal Resilience in Southeastern Wisconsin through Research, Education, and Collaboration
Adam Bechle, Wisconsin Coastal Management Program
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An effort led by the Wisconsin Coastal Management Program, Wisconsin Sea Grant, UW-Madison, and the Southeastern Wisconsin Regional Planning Commission is providing research data, educational resources, and technical assistance to Southeastern Wisconsin’s Lake Michigan coastal communities in to help build resilience to coastal hazards. The region’s coastal bluffs, beaches, and waterfront infrastructure are impacted by erosion, coastal storms, and fluctuating lake water levels which threaten coastal properties and impair economic security of the region’s tourism and commerce. Updated bluff and shoreline recession rates are being mapped and evaluated to provide needed data for long-term planning.