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Global Warming Responsible for Wacky Weather?

February 2, 2010

PIERRE, S.D. - Global warming is having odd effects on winter weather in South Dakota and around the northern United States, and the National Wildlife Federation has just released a report that details some of the extremes. Chris Hesla with the South Dakota Wildlife Federation says the unusual conditions we have seen this winter may become the norm.

"You know, I think its not so much oddball, but more of a sharpness to it, extra bitter colds, or extra snow with extra winds, and hotter temperatures in the summer. We're going to see the same weather patterns, just more extremes of it."

One thing for certain is that wetlands of eastern South Dakota will be overflowing this spring, following the heavy snows of winter. Hesla says that may be too much of a good thing for the lowlands.

"Well, when you have water, that takes care of, in a lot of sloughs, the cattails that protect our birds in the winter time; you know it's the pheasants, primarily, that I am talking about. You know you can't plant anything in standing water, that could be a tough thing this summer."

Hesla says the change in weather patterns could have a direct economic impact on states like South Dakota.

"With South Dakota being the duck factory of the nation, the climate and things like that are important to us, because it doesn't take very many degrees of a rise in temperature to do away with a lot of the marginal wetlands we have in South Dakota. They are important to ducks and the production of ducks."

The NWFreport, "Oddball Winter Weather: Global Warming's Wake Up Call for the Northern United States," is available at www.nwf.org

Jerry Oster, Public News Service - SD