Change and Terrestrial Ecosystems of the Great Lakes Region:
Potential Impacts and What We Can Do
change is our #1 long term problem," stated Anne
Seha, MPCA Deputy Commissioner, pointing out
that education and research are key for taking steps towards
important changes. MPCA has worked with Dept. of Transportation
among other organizations to incorporate climate change information
into planning strategies. Ms. Seha was excited about the
upcoming Excel metro energy emissions reductions proposal which
could potentially reduce over 2 million tons of CO2 annually.
She proudly congratulated the cities of St. Paul,
Minneapolis, and Duluth for their awards from the Cities
for Climate Protection Campaign.
Peter Sousounis compared and contrasted the GCMs
(general circulation models) used in the Great Lakes Regional
Climate Change Assessment. The CGCM1 (Canadian model)
and the HadCM2 (Hadley Model) both project temperature
increases, where the number of extremely hot (90+ °F) days
will likely increase significantly by the end of this century.
Both models indicate an increase in precipitation, yet, much
of that precipitation increase occurs in the fall and spring
(outside the growing season). Dr.
John Pastor points out that it is what happens
during the growing season that is key for forest productivity.
Dr. Pastor notes that even if the precipitation increases, soil
moisture might decrease, since the evaporative demand is very
high (if the temperature increases are large enough). Minnesota
today vs. a projected future view of Minnesota, was also presented
by Dr. Pastor. Both Karen
Walker and Dr.
Pastor agreed that shifts in tree species ranges could be dramatic,
including a significant decrease in conifer forests.
what do we do? We need to reduce net fossil fuel emissions,
Dr. Pastor said. One way to do this is to look at the carbon
flow through the timber industry. About half the dry weight
of of durable hardwood products (eg., wood furniture) is sequestered
carbon. We are cutting the forest too soon and loosing net carbon
storage by doing so. By encouraging slower growing forest practices
(like the old-growth forests Jack Rajala manages) which produce
the hard durable products, the timber industry can be part of
the solution. Jack
Rajala, of Rajala Lumber Industries, agrees that
both private and public landowners, are increasingly focused
on managing for long-lived, hardwood forests with a shift to
higher value products. Rajala said that change is nothing new
to this industry, and global warming will bring more change
in how we manage the forests placing much greater emphasis
on forest health and productivity. Mr. Rajala also expressed
concern over loosing well-managed forests to parcelization.
In closing he stated that we need to be bigger people
and think bigger, to deal with some bigger problems.
Zumeta presented major issues in Minnesota´s
long term forest sustainability: timber harvesting and forest
management, human population growth and related development,
and global climate change. Dave focused on adaptation because
climate change is here and many future generations
will have to cope with climate change in coming decades.
The afternoon session began with Dr.
Jeff Price addressing the common belief that birds
are only limited by habitat, and explained how birds adapt to
climate by moving.
In fact, we are already seeing these large scale shifts: 20-40%
of warblers are found further north than they were 25 years
ago. Bird hunters may just have to shift their focus (e.g.,
MN may loose Sharp Tailed Grouse and Partridge, but see more
Northern Bobwhite). So why should we care? How do you assess
value to wildlife? While some things cannot be quantified such
as social, cultural religious and spiritual values, aesthetic
value might be economically quantified by looking at lost revenue,
for example, in 2001, more than 1.9 million Minnesotans spent
$532 million watching wildlife. Risk assessment needs to be
calculated: Pest control, seed dispersal, and plant pollination
are some of the crucial functions that birds provide, which
was clearly illustrated by the case study: Birds, Spruce
Budworms, and Climate Change. In short, budworms can readily
adapt to climate change (more budworm outbreaks, more forest
damage), while escaping the control of their natural predators,
such as the warbler who continues to move up north.
Nelson presented the past, present and future perspectives
of wetland and wildlife management. Jay
Rendall covered an array of invasive species,
including to the surprise of many, the common earthworm, which
is non-native and potentially damaging to forests. Terry
Shreiner talked about wildlife that is appearing
and disappearing, but commented on the decrease in diversity
which they are seeing today at the Minnesota Valley National
Wildlife Refuge. Karen
Scott showed the newly released Climate
Change Wildlife and Wildlife Toolkit, which provides
a video and materials to assist educators in communicating climate
change with the public.
Lakes Regional Climate Change Assessment, National Wildlife
Federation, Minnesota Pollution Control Agency, U.S. Environmental
Protection Agency, and Michigan State University
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