The Ferris professor says climate change will have a domino effect on Michigan

BIG STOCKS — Temperatures in Michigan have been rising in recent years, and according to one Ferris State University professor, even the smallest changes could have a big impact if the trends continue.

Most of the state has warmed 2 to 3 degrees Fahrenheit over the past century, according to the Environmental Protection Agency.

Jennifer Johnson, professor of geography and chair of Ferris’ Department of Social and Behavioral Services, said she believes the complexities of climate change are something that needs attention.

“One of the most difficult parts of the climate system is trying to figure out all the complex ways the different components connect and affect each other,” Johnson said. “The initial changes may be small, but the climate system is like a giant row of dominoes. This initial change knocks over another domino and triggers a second shift, which knocks over the next domino and triggers a third shift.

The EPA reports that humans have increased the amount of carbon dioxide in the air by 40% since the late 1700s. Higher atmospheric carbon dioxide concentrations and longer frost-free growing seasons would increase average annual wheat yields.

La Niña has also affected Michigan’s climate. During a La Niña winter, conditions in the south are warmer and drier than normal. Nordic countries and Canada tend to be wetter and colder. During La Niña, waters off the Pacific coast are cooler and contain more nutrients than usual, according to the National Weather Service in Grand Rapids.

In Michigan, the NWS reports that the typical effects of a La Niña winter lead to warmer October and November, an equal chance of snow and cooler weather in December, and cooler and snowier weather in February and March.

Factors like La Niña play a role in understanding how temperatures affect Michigan’s climate, Johnson said.

“Over the past three years, we have experienced a rare series of three La Niña events in the equatorial Pacific,” Johnson said. “It is primarily a winter phenomenon that brings stronger easterly winds and cooler surface waters in the eastern equatorial Pacific. This colder-than-normal water can sometimes spread to the coasts of Central America and California, where it affects weather in the southwestern United States and may even affect the path of the polar jet.

Significant changes can occur even with small changes in temperature. Slightly warmer air can hold more water vapor and thus produce more snow, warmer lakes may have less ice or it may form later in the season, changing our lake effect snow production, and trees may bud a little earlier and become more susceptible to late. frost, according to Johnson.


Warming can have surprising and seemingly opposite weather effects, Johnson said.

“People like to joke about where global warming is now in the winter when we have extreme cold, but the truth is that these cold air bursts may be a direct result of Arctic warming,” she said.

“Many of us have heard of the polar vortex, which is a powerful system of winds that circulates around the bitterly cold air pool in the Arctic. Some studies show that as the Arctic warms, one direct result is a weakening of polar vortex winds, which in turn can lead to more frequent cold weather events. air bursts in the winter,” she said. “We’ve always had them as a normal part of winter, but climate change may mean we see them a bit more often.”

West-central Michigan has seen an increase in temperatures in recent years.

In 2016, Mecosta County had 24 extreme heat days and Osceola County had 18, according to Michigan Environmental Public Health Tracking.

In February, the most recent month available, the average temperature in Mecosta County was 28 degrees, 7 degrees warmer than the average for all Februarys since 1985, according to US data. In Osceola County, the average temperature for February was 26 degrees, which is 8 degrees warmer than the average for all Februarys since 1985.

Fluctuations in heat and precipitation can affect flowering plants, crops and the pollinators that support them, Johnson said.

For example, Johnson said the air may warm up a bit and cause trees to bud a little earlier than usual, which can be a problem if a particular crop depends on migrating pollinators that haven’t arrived yet. This means that the yield is affected.

“This is just one small example of how even small changes in our climate can have a big impact on our economy and food supply,” Johnson said. “Thinking about climate change and how we as humans will adapt to it is a lot more than just planning for a little warmer weather, and trying to wrap your head around all these additional changes that are being caused is a big challenge.”

Conversely, if the migrating pollinators are those that experience warmer weather and migrate too quickly, they arrive before flowering and starve, causing the population to collapse, again affecting crop pollination.


Johnson said she sticks to observable, verifiable data.

“As a scientist, I also work to keep an open mind because our knowledge is always expanding and evolving,” Johnson said. “There is a lot of misinformation and political influence in the world today around the topic of climate change, and I want my students to understand the underlying science and be able to ask good questions and think critically about what they hear so they can draw well. -informed conclusions for yourself.

Ferris State has several climate-focused goals for its campus, including reducing energy and water use on campus by implementing mechanical and electrical system modifications and participating in behavior change programs.

Other energy conservation activities on campus include evaluating utility bills, identifying energy savings opportunities, documenting energy and water reductions, and obtaining utility rebates.

In 2011, Ferris State University was awarded LEED – Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design – Gold by the US Green Building Council and certified by the Green Building Certification Institute for its East Campus Suites buildings. LEED is a system for evaluating the design, construction and operation of high-performance green buildings.

Ferris is LEED certified for energy use, lighting, water and material use, as well as incorporating a variety of other sustainable strategies.

According to the US Green Building Council, by using less energy and water, LEED-certified buildings save taxpayers money, reduce greenhouse gas emissions and promote a healthier environment for residents, workers and the wider community.

Johnson has been a member of the university’s Sustainability Committee for several years and continues to work with colleagues to improve the campus climate.

“At Ferris, we must continue to pursue our mission of preparing students for successful careers and responsible citizenship,” Johnson said. “Almost every industry will be affected by climate change or climate-related regulations or policies in the future.

“From an administrative standpoint, we need to make sure we model our core values, including being an ethical community, through our decision-making processes, procurement and priorities. We work from the inside out to continue to move the university toward a better, sustainable future while remaining fiscally responsible.”

#Ferris #professor #climate #change #domino #effect #Michigan

Pittsburgh Steelers 2023 NFL Draft Options: Day Three - Steelers Depot

Pittsburgh Steelers 2023 NFL Draft Options: Day Three – Steelers Depot

The most powerful black holes in the universe may finally have an explanation

The most powerful black holes in the universe may finally have an explanation