On Air
0:00
0:00
Open In Popup
MPR News

Minnesota's biggest climate change signals

Share story

Increased rain is a primary sign of climate change in Minnesota.
Increased rain is a primary sign of climate change in Minnesota.
Carlos Gonzalez | Star Tribune via AP

When looking for signs climate change has arrived in Minnesota, look for the little and unexpected things, said Kenny Blumenfeld, the state Department of Natural Resource's senior climatologist.

"The story of climate change in Minnesota is not going to be the Hollywood thriller with massive, spiraling storm complexes going out of control like we're going to see on some of the coasts," he said. "It's really gonna be a little more subtle."

Just before the calendar flipped to 2019, Blumenfeld sat down for an interview in which he outlined Minnesota's recent climate past and what's to come. 

• Winters are warming 10 times faster than summer. Blumenfeld said temperatures are increasing about 1 degree Fahrenheit per decade.

• Super cold temps just don't happen anymore. Northern Minnesota's minus 40 days are getting fewer and fewer, as are the metro area's minus 20 temps. "I think it's just a matter of time before we see a winter where some communities in Minnesota don't go to 0 or colder," Blumenfeld said. 

• It's really wet. "This is probably going to be the wettest decade on record in Minnesota," Blumenfeld said. Overall, rainfall amounts across the state are going "way up," he said. 

• Lakes are getting warmer. Lake Superior and inland lakes are getting much hotter, which changes their chemistry. That affects what types of plants and animals can live in the lake, and it cuts down on the winter ice season. Blumenfeld said an internal DNR analysis showed inland lakes have about four days fewer of ice cover per decade over the past three decades. 

To hear a full roundup of the state of climate change in Minnesota, use the audio player above.