Key Messages About the Midwest from the National Climate Assessment
In the next few decades, longer growing seasons and rising carbon dioxide levels will increase yields of some crops, though those benefits will be progressively offset by extreme weather events. Though adaptation options can reduce some of the detrimental effects, in the long term, the combined stresses associated with climate change are expected to decrease agricultural productivity.
The composition of the region’s forests is expected to change as rising temperatures drive habitats for many tree species northward. The role of the region’s forests as a net absorber of carbon is at risk from disruptions to forest ecosystems, in part due to climate change.
Increased heat wave intensity and frequency, increased humidity, degraded air quality, and reduced water quality will increase public health risks.
The Midwest has a highly energy-intensive economy with per capita emissions of greenhouse gases more than 20% higher than the national average. The region also has a large and increasingly utilized potential to reduce emissions that cause climate change. Extreme rainfall events and flooding have increased during the last century, and these trends are expected to continue, causing erosion, declining water quality, and negative impacts on transportation, agriculture, human health, and infrastructure.
Climate change will exacerbate a range of risks to the Great Lakes, including changes in the range and distribution of certain fish species, increased invasive species and harmful blooms of algae, and declining beach health. Ice cover declines will lengthen the commercial navigation season.
To learn more about how climate change affects the Midwest, explore the resources in the right sidebar.