Climate Change Projections for the United States Midwest
- Cite this article as:
- Wuebbles, D.J. & Hayhoe, K. Mitigation and Adaptation Strategies for Global Change (2004) 9: 335. doi:10.1023/B:MITI.0000038843.73424.de
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Environmental and societal factors such asair quality, water quality andavailability, land use changes andexpanding urbanization are alreadyaffecting human health and welfare,agriculture, and natural ecosystems in theMidwestern United States. Over thiscentury, these existing stresses willlikely be exacerbated by climate changesresulting from human activities. It isessential that policy decisions aimed atpreserving the well-being of a region beinformed by a good understanding of theregion's climate, how climate might change,and the uncertainties inherent in futureprojections. Recent updates in climatemodeling expertise and an expanded view ofpossible non-intervention emissionscenarios have narrowed the range of changethat can be expected over the Midwestthroughout the next century in some ways,while broadening it in others. In contrastto previous studies, which generallyconsider a mid-range scenario for futureemissions, this study presents the range ofchange that would result from low to highscenarios for climate change. In this waywe account for uncertainties inanthropogenic forcing on climate change inthe region and quantify the potentialeffects of human actions on future climate.This analysis also combines the latestclimate model projections with historicalrecords of observed climate over the pastcentury, effectively placing potentialchanges in extreme event frequencies suchas heavy rainfall events and temperaturethreshold exceedances within the context ofobserved variability over the past century.The purpose of this study is to provide anupdated picture of the potential impacts ofclimate change on the Midwest to inform theimpact assessment and policy developmentcommunity. From the magnitude of thechanges projected by this study, it isclear that these must be included in futurepolicy decisions in order to ensure thesuccessful adaptation and survival ofexisting human and natural systems in theMidwest.