MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) -- World leaders met in Scotland Monday in order to accelerate plans to curb climate change. Experts in Minnesota say the state is already grappling with its effects.
Data shows that Minnesota has warmed three degrees in the last 125 years. Annual precipitation has increased by 3.4 inches.
"You don't have to look very far to see something in your life that you care about—whether that's economic impacts; impacts to your community's infrastructure; your ability to have clean, safe drinking water; your ability to go recreate in our forests or lovely lakes," said Heidi Roop, an assistant professor of climate science at the University of Minnesota. "This iconic Minnesota is at risk from a changing climate and we're already seeing those changes unfold before our eyes."
State climatologist Kenneth Blumenfeld said the main symptoms of a warming planet felt in Minnesota are warmer temperatures, especially during winter, and extreme precipitation.
Each of the top 10 combined warmest and wettest years on record occurred between 1998 and 2020. The frequencies of -35° F readings in northern Minnesota and -25° F readings in the south have fallen by up to 90%, according to the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources.
Heavy rainfall can "overwhelm" communities without the infrastructure to handle it, Blumenfeld said.
Overall our state is getting wetter, but the frequency of drier summers—and droughts—could worsen in the future, characterized by more extreme heat if things don't take a turn for the better.
"So it looks like we're getting hotter either way. But the question is: Will we get hotter kind of gradually, or do we get hotter in a way that we're not prepared for at all?" Blumenfeld said.
In Glasgow, Scotland, global leaders at the United Nations are trying to get the world back on track to meet goals set forth by the Paris Climate agreement, which include reducing global carbon emissions to zero by 2050 and limiting the planet's overall warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius, or 2.7 degrees Fahrenheit.
"I don't think we can understate the importance of the COP26 conference, and more importantly, addressing the challenges that we face from climate change at all levels and scales of governance," Roop said.
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