The Mission of the Wisconsin Initiative on Climate Change Impacts is to generate and share information that can limit vulnerability to climate change in Wisconsin and the Upper Midwest.
WICCI engages citizens; private and public decision-makers; and scientists from Wisconsin and the region in a collaborative network to
WICCI is a network of many groups and individuals who work together through communication and collaboration.
WICCI was formed in the fall of 2007, by the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (DNR) and the University of Wisconsin Nelson Institute for Environmental Studies. The Nelson Institute had been approached by several state legislators, who wanted to understand the impact of climate change on their constituents. DNR staff wanted to understand impacts on the state's natural resources, so they could make better management decisions.
In the summer of 2007, about 40 UW-Madison and state agency scientists met to launch WICCI. An ad hoc group continued meeting to work out the details. WICCI quickly grew to include people from other state and federal agencies; several UW System schools; tribal organizations; businesses; and non-profit organizations. Major funding was provided by the Ira and Ineva Reilly Baldwin Wisconsin Idea Endowment.
WICCI's first phase ended with the publication of Wisconsin's Changing Climate: Impacts and Adaptation, in 2011. Interest in climate change impacts and adaptation is growing, so in the spring of 2013, another ad hoc group worked to develop a strategic plan for WICCI's second phase. It will be implemented in the summer and fall of 2013.
WICCI's organizational structure will change in phase two, but it will include the parts that made phase one successful:
Wisconsin's climate has changed since 1950. The average temperature for the whole state has risen by roughly 1.0–1.5 deg. F. The rise has been uneven: northwestern parts of Wisconsin have warmed by roughly 2.0 deg. F; southern and northeastern parts have not warmed much, if at all. Temperature changes also differ by season. Winter and spring have warmed more than summer and fall. Nighttime low temperatures have risen more than have daytime highs.
These changes are reflected in Wisconsin's growing seasons. Since 1950, the growing season has become between one and four weeks longer in different parts of Wisconsin. North central and far northwestern regions have seen the greatest growing season increases. Winter has become correspondingly shorter. Lakes freeze later and thaw earlier on average now than they did in the past. These changes are reflected in plant and animal communities. Spring birds arrive earlier today than in the past. Spring plants bloom earlier. Gardeners are seeing shifts in plant hardiness zones.
We still have weather in Wisconsin, of course. Temperature, precipitation, and storms vary noticeably from year-to-year and day-to-day. WICCI does not predict the weather. But participants in WICCI are working hard to understand how climate has already changed and how it may change in the future.