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Is Minnesota slowly turning into Nebraska?

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Global warming, what Dean Beck of Alexandria refers to as global climate change, was the topic of discussion at this month's Kiwanis meeting.

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Beck, who is the Glenwood Area's Fisheries manager for the Department of Natural Resources (DNR), was the guest speaker.

"Global climate change does appear to be happening," Beck told the small group.

Climate change is described as any long-term significant change in average weather of a region or the earth as a whole. It involves changes in the variability or average state of the atmosphere over durations ranging from decades to millions of years.

Dynamic processes on Earth, or external forces, including variations in sunlight intensity, and more recently, by human activity, can cause the changes.

Beck said in the last 100 years, there has been a marked increase in temperatures.

He noted that it would be interesting to see what the landscape of Minnesota would look like 100 years from now. His prediction, based on changes that have already occurred, is that Minnesota will eventually take on the same climate as Nebraska.

Already, he said, lakes have had less ice cover. Some lakes in Wisconsin, for instance, have gone from 120 days of ice cover during the winter to 80 days of ice cover.

Ice outs have been earlier, and spring, at least in Minnesota, has been arriving at least one week earlier than in the past. Temperatures have gone up between 3 and 5 degrees, said Beck.

Based on changes that have already occurred, Beck said that the greatest temperature changes would be seen in Alaska and Canada. Temperatures, he said, would be about 10 degrees warmer within the next 100 years than they were within the last 100 years.

In addition, the primary warming trends will be seen during the winter months, not the summer months. There will also be an increase in precipitation over the whole continent.

Global climate change, according to Beck, will also see a net decline in land moisture, less snow pack, lower river levels, more frequent droughts, earlier snow melts - resulting in increased flooding, greater wild fire potential and the tornado belt will move further north.

There will also be warmer lake temperatures and lower lake levels with global climate change.

Fish in this area, especially tullibees and trout, will not tolerate the warmer lake temperatures, said Beck.

As a member of the DNR, Beck said the global climate change is concerning because of the effects it will have on lakes and lake quality.

Already, Beck said, the DNR has seen more fish kills, more exotic species and more viral outbreaks in fish species.

There has also been an expansion of non-native plants, such as the curly leaf pondweed, he added.

Right now, Beck said, the DNR is in the planning stages for how to deal with global climate change. The fisheries department is working with other DNR departments on ways to help combat this issue.

"Climate change is happening. It's not a hoax," said Beck. "People need to be aware and learn what we can do about it. We can make a change."

For more information about global climate change, log onto the DNR's Web site at www.dnr.state.mn.us and then type in "global climate change" in the search box.

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