As Wildlife Moves North, Will Driftless Landscapes Provide a Refuge from Climate Change?


hills and valleys in Wisconsin
Photo from the driftless

by Abigail Comerford, age 16 (With permission of the Simpson Street Free Press)


Climate change has been an issue for decades, and currently scientists are concerned about how it's affecting plant and animal species across the country. According to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, global temperatures are expected to rise two to four degrees in the next century, already having risen 1.5 degrees centigrade in the last century.


Jack Williams, a UW-Madison geologist and geographer claims that this is comparable to the rising of temperatures around 8,000 and 19,000 years ago when Earth came out of the last ice age. However, the difference today lies in the fact that the climate is warming at a much faster rate. As expected, this global change in temperature is threatening the lives of plants and animals everywhere.


“Climate change is happening about 10 times faster than the recovery after the ice age,” says Ryan O’Connor, conservative ecologist with the DNR on a technical advisory committee for the project. “Species just can't keep up.”


Photo of the Driftless area in Wisconsin
Simpson Street Free Press

According to recent studies, species are already moving around 11 miles north and 36 feet higher in elevation each decade to find more accommodating environments. Here in the midwest, species commonly found in the southeast are now being seen around Wisconsin and trees native to Iowa are growing in Madison and Minneapolis. In