Series: Extreme Precipitation And Wisconsin's Climate

Climate change is already beginning to affect Wisconsin in subtle but important ways. As the average global temperature creeps upward, climatologists have projected that the upper Midwest will experience heavier precipitation. This shift means not just a greater volume of water in the form of rain or snow, but also more intense storms happening more frequently. While climate change on its own isn't necessarily the culprit behind a given storm, its effects can intensify existing weather patterns and make long-running climatic cycles more unpredictable. While researchers work to understand how climate change interacts with seasonal cycles like El Niño and how human activities affect the outcome of catastrophic floods, communities across the state face new challenges protecting people, infrastructure and their economy.
 
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As communities are under threat from more frequent, intense storms, a report by the nonprofit Pew Charitable Trusts found Wisconsin is among 13 cities and states that have been able to reduce their vulnerability to flooding.
Over the last few years, bridges and roads have washed away during flash floods across Wisconsin. But how can engineers tackle the problem in order to prevent this kind of infrastructure damage in the future?
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A task force in Monroe County will focus immediately on warning people who live in watersheds that have faced repeated flooding in the last 12 years. But the group will also take a long-range approach to dealing with climate change.
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As Wisconsin braces for climate change and a future with more flooding, a conservationist discusses the role that wetlands can play.
The connection between Wisconsin's rivers and the wetlands that feed them has become increasingly tenuous. Its consequences for human communities come into clearer focus when heavy rains transform streams and rivers into forces of wanton destruction.
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As heavy autumn rains fall over much of Wisconsin, WisContext associate editor Will Cushman talks about extreme precipitation and how sever flooding is affecting infrastructure at the local level.
As a result of repeated catastrophic flooding, Bayfield County has been proactive in upgrading culverts and bridges and tracking down new sources of funding.
The city of Hayward owes its existence to the waters and woods of northern Wisconsin, but the same geography that sparked and sustained the community's growth likewise heralds an emerging menace to its future.
The issue of too much water in too short a time is contributing to mounting budgetary and, in some cases, existential crises for communities of all sizes around Wisconsin and the United States.
One of the first environmental scientists in northwest Wisconsin to raise concerns about how prepared the region was for more intense flooding is Randy Lehr.