Second Climate Adaptation Conference offers science, inspiration and awards

Building Minnesota’s Capacity for Climate Adaptation Conference was held Thursday, November 6, 2014 at the Minneapolis Hyatt hotel. The 250 plus attendees heard about the effect of climate change on weather events from speakers Harold Brooks, National Severe Weather Laboratory, NOAA, and climate resilience strategies from Steve Adams Senior Program Advisor U.S. Climate Adaptation, Institute for Sustainable Communities .

Breakout sessions throughout the day addressed the impacts of a changing climate on recreation and tourism, watershed management, and agriculture among other topics. Participants learned about new plans that have been implemented or tested in various sectors, including human health, local governments, college campuses, resources, recreation, and agriculture.

Minnesota Public Radio meteorologist Paul Huttner filed his mid-morning radio report from the conference, telling listeners, “We are getting heavier rain and less frequently . . .how do farmers deal with this in a cost effective way?” He also highlighted the conference topic of individual actions for climate changes, pointing out how more rain and drought events will force homeowners to manage heavy rainfall and plan ahead for those events.

This conference also marked the inaugural presentation of awards to celebrate early climate adapters in the categories of individual, institution, organization, and private industry. Winners were Erin Pratt and Julia Nerbonne of Minnesota Interfaith Power & Light, Organization Award; Leslie Brandt of the Northern Institute of applied Climate Science, Institution award; Dennis Fuchs from Stearns County Soil Water Conservation District, Institution Award and Paul Douglas, Total Weather, LLC, Individual Award.

Water Resources Center Interim director Faye Sleeper was satisfied with the conference outcome, saying, “This year the planning committee wanted the conference to build on last year’s conference, so we were pleased that the general session speakers and the breakout session speakers spoke on topics that were not broached in 2013 and reached out across Minnesota into sectors that have a wide range of interests.”

Dennis Fuch, Barbara Liukkonen, and Mark SeeleyDennis Fuchs from Stearns County Soil and
Water Conservation District, was recognized for
his work in both urban and rural settings,
with landowners and with other units of
government, working to increase awareness
 of climate change at the local level. 
Fuchs is pictured with Barbara Liukkonen, 
retired Extension educator, and Mark Seeley,
 UM Soil, Water and Climate.
Faye Sleeper, Harold Brooks, Mark SeeleyMeteorologist Harold Brooks (NOAA, NSSL)
addressed his severe weather climatology
research in the first morning session.
Brooks is pictured here with conference
 planning team members Faye
Sleeper (Interim Director, WRC)
and Mark Seeley (UM, Soil, Water and Climate.)