Could Michigan become a climate haven?

LANSING, Mich. (WLNS) – While researchers across the globe have been following warming trends for years, there’s been a constant question if Michigan will become the next ‘climate haven’ as it’s surrounded by one of the world’s largest sources of fresh water.

Lake Michigan shoreline. (WLNS)
Lake Michigan shoreline. (WLNS)

State Climatologist and Professor at Michigan State University Jeff Andresen has spent years studying the Earth’s climate and, like others in the industry, he said we’re seeing things get hotter by the year.

“Our climate is shifting, changing, and the upper Midwest, Great Lakes, Michigan are becoming warmer and wetter; have become warmer and wetter and that is projected for at least the next few decades for that trend to continue,” he said.

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When things get warmer, he said, there’s always talk of the state potentially becoming a location that people will turn to for relief.

The five Great Lakes hold 84% of North America’s fresh surface water supply, and about 21% of the fresh surface water on Earth.

“Collectively, in some of these areas, the theory is that it may lead people to try to seek a less stressful, less severe type of climate. And the Great Lakes is frequently one of those areas that’s identified because we are expecting climate changes of course here, but the impacts are thought to be possibly less,” Andresen said.

Although there’s no proof that people are currently fleeing to Michigan due to the harsh climates in other areas, the state climatologist said if things stay on track, we could start seeing an influx of people.

“There isn’t a lot of empirical evidence or data to suggest that this is actually taking place but the research suggests that it may in the future as again our climate continues to trend and shift, especially in areas that are more adversely impacted by those changes,” he said.

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But he added that the potential timeline is still a bit foggy, as it all depends on how we treat the Earth.

“You’ve got a range of outcomes, so the timing of this, there’s a lot of uncertainty about that because it could be something that only evolves or takes place over many many decades but it could be something much earlier than that,” he said. “Of course, everyone is different in their risk tolerance and what they’re willing to live with.”

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