Global climate models indicate that climate change will have significant impacts on mid-latitude regions such as the Upper Midwest, but little is known about specific effects on Wisconsin's environment, economy, and human health, or how to address potential threats or opportunities. Effective responses will require the best available science and meaningful participation of public and private stakeholders.
The Wisconsin Initiative on Climate Change Impacts (WICCI) assesses and anticipates climate change impacts on specific Wisconsin natural resources, ecosystems and regions; evaluates potential effects on industry, agriculture, tourism and other human activities; and develops and recommends adaptation strategies that can be implemented by businesses, farmers, public health officials, municipalities, resource managers and other stakeholders. WICCI represents a partnership between:
It combines cutting-edge climate modeling capabilities with field expertise to assess impacts at focused and relevant measures of time and space. It fosters collaboration among units across the UW System; and with agencies and institutions across the state. It develops practical information that can be used at all levels of decision making, both public and private. It is driven by stakeholder input to ensure that WICCI assessments meet the informational needs of Wisconsin citizens, businesses and institutions.
Unlike the Governor's Global Warming Task Force, which targets mitigation of greenhouse gases - how we affect the climate - WICCI focuses solely on the impacts of climate change - how the climate affects us.
WICCI represents a unique and innovative process to develop a statewide climate change adaptation strategy. WICCI has formed through a non-bureaucratic, bottom-up approach to engage scientists, researchers and management agencies in understanding the impacts of climate change on communities and natural resources across the state, and to develop strategies to make them more resilient to climate change.
WICCI was established in the fall of 2007 as a collaboration between the University of Wisconsin–Madison's Nelson Institute for Environmental Studies and the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (WDNR). Prior to WICCI's formation, both entities had independently begun to examine the issue of climate change impacts. The Nelson Institute effort began in response to questions from state legislators who wanted to understand how climate change could affect their constituents. The WDNR effort was in response to agency staff concerns about how climate change would impact the state's natural resources for which the agency had stewardship and management responsibilities. A joint meeting of 40 UW-Madison and agency scientists in early summer 2007 became the springboard for joining forces and launching a statewide effort. Following that meeting, a small, ad-hoc group of scientists from both entities developed the structure of WICCI – an organization that quickly grew to include representatives from other state and federal agencies, several UW System schools, tribal organizations, businesses and non-profit groups.
WICCI is governed by a Science Council whose members are chosen from an array of disciplines within the University of Wisconsin System, the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources and other state and federal agencies, universities and institutions. The primary function of the Science Council is to organize and coordinate Working Groups that have the scientific expertise to assess climate change impacts pertinent to specific issues or areas of concern. An Operations and Outreach Unit in the Nelson Institute for Environmental Studies at UW-Madison facilitates the operations of the Science Council and be responsible for the outreach mission of WICCI. It also coordinates the activities of an Advisory Committee.
Members of the Science Council represent disciplines including natural resource, ecological and engineering sciences; climate science; social sciences; public health; and the agricultural sciences. The primary functions of the Science Council are to:
Working Groups are created by the Science Council to conduct science-based assessments of climate change impacts pertaining to specific topics or areas of concern (e.g., northern forest ecosystem; agriculture) and to make recommendations on adaptation strategies.
An Operations and Outreach Unit provides logistical support to the Science Council and perform outreach functions related to the mission of WICCI.
Representatives of agencies, business interests, non-governmental organizations and other stakeholders are asked to serve on an advisory committee to provide information, resources and knowledge to assist WICCI in fulfilling its mission.