Wisconsin News

Climate change could mean more flooding

LA CROSSE, Wis. - As we celebrate another Earth Day, scientists are reminding people that our planet is changing.

"Temperatures are likely to increase, probably a little bit more in winter than in summer," said Barry Johnson, the chief of long term monitoring at the U.S. Geological Survey in La Crosse.

When it comes to climate change, Johnson says one of the biggest threats for our area is more frequent flooding.

"More extreme events...things like very high amounts of rainfall in 24-hour periods," said Johnson.

Engineers for the city of La Crosse are already planning for that scenario. Assistant City Engineer Bernerd Lenz says several new technologies are being looked at that would help reduce the amount of stormwater run-off in the city.


"We are blessed by living in a sandbox," said Lenz. "If we can get the water off the streets or prevent it from getting to the streets...we can reduce some of our flooding that way."

It's not the Mississippi River, however, that is most at risk from climate changes. Johnson says the smaller bodies of water will see a greater impact.

"You're more likely to see changes around here in things like small streams," said Johnson.

Both men are bracing for changes that likely can not be stopped.

"Even if we were to do a variety of things now to try and alleviate some of that, it would probably be changing for quite awhile in the future yet," said Johnson.

Earth's average temperature has risen by 1.4 degrees over the last century.The EPA predicts it will rise anywhere from 2 to 11.5 degrees over the next century.

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