Climate Cast: Record year of warmth for the Twin Cities

Beach time
Joe Jungmann and his fiance Nicki Opdahl cooled off in the waters of Lake Josephine in Roseville, Minn. Monday, July 2, 2012.
MPR Photo/Jeffrey Thompson

Starting this week, MPR meteorologist Paul Huttner will join The Daily Circuit on Thursdays to talk about the latest research on our changing climate and the consequences that we're seeing here in Minnesota and worldwide.

"Let's take the stories, the research that's coming in and try to put it in some context to what people are experiencing in their daily lives," Huttner said. "We're seeing these changes; we're seeing earlier springs; we saw magnolias blooming in March last year in Minnesota, lilacs blooming in the first part of April. The ice is going out sooner every spring and freezing later every fall. All of these things we're witnessing, how is that climate change, how does that big picture look for the world and Minnesota?"

What are some of the biggest climate changes we experienced in 2012?


Grow the Future of Public Media

MPR News is supported by Members. Gifts from individuals power everything you find here. Make a gift of any amount today to become a Member!

2012 was the warmest year on record in the Twin Cities, tying the 1931 record. The temperate was about 4.6 degrees above average, Huttner said. That's the equivalent of living in the climate of Omaha, Neb.

And our temperatures are expected to increase. Minnesota is the third-fastest warming state since 1970. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change predicted that the Upper Midwest would warm anywhere from 4 to 9 degrees by the end of the century, Huttner said. University of Minnesota Extension climatologist and meteorologist Mark Seeley has predicted that the climate of the Twin Cities is going to move to International Falls by 2070.


"We've seen a doubling in the frequency of 3-inch or greater excessive rainfall events since the 1960s," Huttner said. "We've seen three 1,000-year flood events in southern Minnesota in the last seven years and of course the Duluth event they're saying is at least a 500- maybe a 1,000-year flood event. So these excessive rainfall events are increasing in Minnesota; it's documented. But the irony of that and the counterintuitive part is drought is increasing in between. So the rain when it comes is heavier, it's more intense, but it's less frequent and less steady."


Cities across the state are beginning to plan around the increasing frequency of extreme weather in hopes of minimizing damage in the future. Duluth is currently discussing climate change as part of their rebuilding process after the summer flood.

"They are rebuilding their infrastructure to a much greater degree to be able to handle these extreme rainfall events that we're seeing a documented increase of in Minnesota," Huttner said.

Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak also joined the discussion and said Minneapolis has to consider changes in the Mississippi River in long-term city planning.

"We've got to think about letting the earth be the earth," he said. "So, for instance, when we're looking at redoing the upper Mississippi in Minneapolis, should we be looking at assuming more floodplain? It will require us to live in different places, which is a pretty hot debate."