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Scientist: Heavier Snow Just One Climate Change Impact in Ohio

Heavier than normal snowfalls could be one affect of climate change. Photo by: Randi Hausken
Heavier than normal snowfalls could be one affect of climate change. Photo by: Randi Hausken
December 11, 2013

COLUMBUS, Ohio - From heavier snowfall and rainfall to record-setting summer temperatures, many experts say climate change is happening in Ohio.

The state also has seen warming winter temperatures, said Ohio State University ecology professor Stuart Ludsin, causing dangerous algae blooms and low-oxygen "dead zones" in lakes as well as fewer yellow perch and walleye in Lake Erie. Ludsin said he believes people definitely are contributing to the problem.

"Ninty-eight percent of climate scientists would wholeheartedly agree that humans are playing a dramatic role in driving these climate patterns through primarily fossil-fuel emissions." Ludsin said.

In 2012, Ohio broke 55 heat records, 10 snowfall records and 10 rainfall records, and experienced one large wildfire.

State Rep. Mike Foley, D-Cleveland, recently introduced House Concurrent Resolution 42, which would make it the state's official position that climate change is manmade and that Ohio should do all it can to reduce greenhouse-gas emissions.

President Obama has made a commitment to fight climate change, and Foley said it should be Ohio's primary concern as well.

"The degree of disruption and negative consequences that probably will occur if we don't change our behavior are just enormous," Foley said, "and it scares the heck out of me."

Foley is convinced the country needs to change the ways energy is produced and discourage energy sources that contribute to greater amounts of greenhouse gases.

If action is not taken to reduce the emissions that spur climate change, Ludsin said, Ohio could see devastating impacts to its ecosystem, as well as the economies that rely on its waterways for recreation. He said the concerns are compounded by other environmental threats.

"Pollution from runoff off the landscape, habitat destruction, invasive species," Ludsin said. "And that's when it becomes really scary, because the combination of these kinds of stressors can be even more potent than just if it was climate change alone."

According to the National Wildlife Federation, Ohio power plants and industrial facilities emitted nearly 150 million metric tons of carbon pollution in 2011, an amount equal to the annual pollution of more than 31 million cars.

Mary Kuhlman, Public News Service - OH