Average temperatures in the Midwest have risen in recent decades, with the largest increases in winter. In addition, heavy downpours are now twice as frequent as they were a century ago, according to the U.S. Global Change Research Program (USGCRP).

In our region, the length of the frost-free or growing season has been extended, mainly due to earlier dates for the last spring frost. The U.S. Department of Agriculture recently released a change in growing zones for the entire nation.

While the longer growing season provides the potential for increased crop yields, increases in heat waves, floods, droughts, insects, and weeds will present increasing challenges to managing crops, livestock, and forests.

In addition, experts predict that native species of plants and animals are very likely to face increasing threats from rapidly changing climate conditions, pests, diseases, and invasive species moving in from warmer regions.