The information below summarizes actions taken in Wisconsin to adapt to the impacts of climate change. Wisconsin has not adopted an official statewide adaptation plan, however, the state has undertaken other efforts to assess climate vulnerabilities and identify adaptation strategies, described here.

On April 5, 2007, Wisconsin Governor Jim Doyle issued Executive Order 191 creating a Global Warming Task Force charged with developing a strategy for reducing greenhouse gas emissions. In July 2008, the Task Force published its report to the Governor — Wisconsin’s Strategy for Reducing Global Warming. The report mainly focused on reducing emissions from critical sectors (utilities, transportation, agriculture, and industry), but also recommends that the state take action to prepare for the impacts of climate change and take advantage of opportunities created by a changing climate. However, as of August 2018, no official adaptation plan has been developed or adopted by the state.

Adaptation work in Wisconsin has also been support by efforts led by the University of Wisconsin. The Wisconsin Initiative on Climate Change Impacts (WICCI) was established in 2007 to assess projected climate change impacts in Wisconsin and to develop statewide climate adaptation and preparedness strategies. WICCI is a collaborative network of the University of Wisconsin-Madison's Nelson Institute for Environmental Studies, the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, and other state agencies and institutions. It also engages citizens, private and public decisionmakers, and scientists from Wisconsin and beyond.

University-led Efforts

In 2011, WICCI released a report titled Wisconsin's Changing Climate: Impacts and Adaptation. WICCI coordinated working groups to develop sector-based impact assessments and adaptation strategies. These working groups included: Adaptation, Agriculture, Central Sands Hydrology, Climate, Coastal Resilience, Coldwater Fish and Fisheries, Forestry, Human Health, Plants and Natural Communities, Soil Conservation, Stormwater, Water Resources, and Wildlife. Additional working groups focused on two Wisconsin cities: Green Bay and Milwaukee. WICCI’s website hosts case studies of adaptation efforts in action in Wisconsin, vulnerability assessments for plants and natural communities in the state, among other adaptation resources to support adaptation efforts at the state and local levels. WICCI also helped to develop fact sheets on climate impacts hosted on the website of the state Department of Natural Resources.

Federal-State Cooperative Efforts

In addition, the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources also collaborates with federal agencies, academic institutions, and nonprofits through a Climate Change Response Framework Project that began in 2009. The project is lead by the Northern Institute of Applied Climate Science within the U.S. Forest Service and it was developed to help resource and land managers in Wisconsin access climate change impact information and resources to help with forest management. This project was expanded in 2011 to become the Northwoods Climate Change Response Framework. The Northwoods project covers 64 million acres across the Laurentian Mixed Forest Province within northern Minnesota, Michigan, and Wisconsin. As part of the project, more than 40 scientists and natural resource professionals collaborated to assess the vulnerability of forest ecosystems in northern Wisconsin and Michigan’s western Upper Peninsula. This group developed a Forest Ecosystem Vulnerability Assessment and Synthesis to evaluate key ecosystem vulnerabilities in the region under a range of future climate scenarios.

State Agency Adaptation Efforts

Wisconsin state agencies have also worked to consider climate impacts in state plans, including the following:

  • The Wisconsin Department of Health Services (DHS) is studying how climate change will affect public health in Wisconsin. In June 2016, DHS published its Wisconsin Climate and Health Adaptation Plan, which identifies strategies for adapting to the potential public-health impacts of a changing climate and extreme weather patterns in the state. The plan looks at vulnerabilities from flooding, extreme heat, drought, extreme cold, and vector-borne diseases. DHS is also working with local health departments to support implementation of adaptation strategies and to engage communities.
  • In December 2016 (updated in January 2017), the Wisconsin Emergency Management Department of Military Affairs adopted an update to the state’s Hazard Mitigation Plan, which includes some discussion about how climate change will exacerbate the threats posed by natural hazards in the state. The plan includes recommended mitigation projects to help the state enhance climate resilience, including providing trainings on preparing for future conditions, and incorporating a scoring system for project applications that accounts for climate resilience.

State Rollbacks

Despite early efforts to promote climate action taken by the Doyle administration, state progress has faced political opposition in recent years. For example, agencies under Governor Scott Walker have removed climate information from websites, as reported in January 2017, and the Wisconsin Board of Commissioners of Public Lands voted to prohibit staff from advocating for climate change policies.

 

This page highlights the actions Wisconsin is taking to adapt to the impacts of climate change. Other resources from the Adaptation Clearinghouse, which have been developed and adopted to help Wisconsin prepare for the impacts of climate change, are featured in the chart below.

The Georgetown Climate Center’s State Adaptation Progress Tracker, which tracks the progress states are making in preparing for the impacts of climate change, was supported by the MacArthur Foundation.

(Research last updated: August 24, 2018).

 

 
 
 

State Agency Plans

Resource Name Sector(s) Covered Date
State of Wisconsin Hazard Mitigation Plan Emergency preparedness December 2016 (amended January 2017)

Local and Regional Plans

Resource Name Date
Climate Change Vulnerability Analysis for the Milwaukee Metropolitan Sewage District October 2014
Dane County, Wisconsin Climate Change and Emergency Preparedness Plan October 2013
Milwaukee, Wisconsin Regional Green Infrastructure Plan June 2013
City of Milwaukee, Wisconsin All Hazards Mitigation Plan June 2012

More Featured Resources

Resource Name Resource Category Date
Wisconsin's Changing Climate: Impacts and Adaptation Planning 2011
Wisconsin Initiative on Climate Change Impacts (WICCI) - Regional Models Data and tools
 

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