Unscripted: Science and Engineering Research

National Climate Assessment Workshop

By Allison Mills | Published

Next week, people all over the Midwest will join discussions on what to do about climate change.

As part of the Fourth National Climate Assessment (NCA4), a team of campus-based researchers will host a daylong workshop. The workshop is intended for anyone who is interested in using synthesized climate information--and, yes, that does actually impact people’s daily life. Just ask the presenters about higher night time temps.  

Houghton is one of several satellite locations that will be hosting a workshop in conjunction with the main workshop in Chicago. No surprise, we’re special. As the only northern rural satellite providing input on the Midwest chapter, we are hoping to gather a variety of professions and perspectives.

Here’s a rundown of the big picture topics on the agenda.

Transportation and Urban Systems

Sidewalks, bridges, roads, subways and the systems supporting them are adversely impacted by extreme weather, but these impacts can be reduced through green infrastructure.

Ecosystems

Healthy ecosystems benefit both nature and society by providing services like water purification and flood control. Climate changes can degrade ecosystems and put these services at risk.

Vulnerability and Adaptation

People are impacted as well. In the Midwest, at risk communities will be increasingly vulnerable to climate change in rural and urban settings; new vulnerable populations may also emerge. Integrating adaptation into planning processes offers an opportunity to manage climate risk better. Working together to create and share knowledge and make decisions with vulnerable communities, non-traditional stakeholders, and tribal partners will help to build adaptive capacity for at-risk populations.

Forestry

Climate impacts can interact with past harvesting practices and other stressors to cause lower forest productivity and increase risk of tree mortality from drought, insect pests, and tree pathogens. Land managers can prepare forests to adapt to a changing climate by managing for increased diversity and selecting for tree species adapted to a range of future conditions.  

Human Health 

People aren’t separate from their environment--and it affects their health. High temperatures, increased rain and snowfall, degraded air quality and ecosystem conditions that favor disease-carrying vectors like ticks have direct and indirect impacts on human health. Adaptation can help address these risks. 

Agriculture

More frequent high intensity rainfall events impacts both animal and crop agriculture. Intense rainfall increases soil erosion risks and favors some pests and pathogens, creating more challenges for grain and forage storage.

Michigan Technological University is a public research university, home to more than 7,000 students from 60 countries around the world. Founded in 1885, the University offers more than 120 undergraduate and graduate degree programs in science and technology, engineering, forestry, business and economics, health professions, humanities, mathematics, and social sciences. Our beautiful campus in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula overlooks the Keweenaw Waterway and is just a few miles from Lake Superior.