7 February 2013

Minnesota Public Radio Begins Climate Cast

Posted by Dan Satterfield

This is a repost (courtesy Bud Ward) at the Yale Forum on Climate Change and the Media.

February 6, 2013

Meteorologist Paul Huttner sits down weekly with MPR ‘Daily Circuit’ host to explore new climate science findings and warming impacts statewide and beyond.

A Minnesota Public Radio meteorologist is venturing where many of his peers in commercial broadcasting have feared to tred: MPR’s Paul Huttner, with top management sharing his concerns that the media are under-informing their audiences on climate change, has begun a weekly “Climate Cast” program.

The statewide broadcast over 39 news stations consists primarily of a two-way discussion and interview in which Huttner takes questions from Kerri Miller, a veteran broadcast journalist now hosting MPR’s “The Daily Circuit” program. The format also includes segments from some two-way discussions Huttner has conducted with various climate experts around the state and beyond it.

“Climate Cast” is aired on Thursdays at 9:45 a.m. central time as a regular weekly component of “The Daily Circuit,” and it can be heard via live streaming. Climate Cast audio is archived in MPR’s Updraft blog each week.

Current MPR ‘Climate Cast’ Broadcast

Huttner and MPR introduce the idea behind “Climate Cast” as follows:

These days it seems like we are witnessing climate changes unfold right before our very eyes.

It’s not our imagination.

The nature of our seasons is changing. Spring blooms come earlier. Summer is more humid with a documented increase in extreme localized flash flood events … and more frequent droughts. Fall lingers longer. Lakes freeze up later. Winters are shorter and noticeably, measurably milder.

We’re all living witnesses to rapid climate changes in our lifetime. This is no longer your grandparents’ “Minnesota.”

In 2013 at MPR we’re devoting more coverage to the science behind and the growing effects of our changing climate in Minnesota and around the globe. You can hear me [Huttner] discuss the week’s top climate stories in our new “Climate Cast” every Thursday morning at 9:50 am with Kerri Miller on The Daily Circuit.

Every Thursday, MPR meteorologist Paul Huttner joins The Daily Circuit to talk about the latest research on our changing climate and the consequences that we’re seeing here in Minnesota and worldwide.

On the January 24 broadcast. Huttner told Miller of “distinct trends” in Minnesota involving fewer sub-zero low temperature days in Minneapolis and Saint Paul and also across Minnesota generally. In the decade of the 1970s, Huttner said, the state had 444 nights with night-time lows of zero degrees Fahrenheit or colder. In the decade of the 80s, that total fell to 280, and to 256 in the 1990s and to 198 in the first decade of this century. It amounts to a 57 percent decline in sub-zero Minnesota nights, Huttner said, and trends indicate that by 2030, “it could be down to around 10 per winter” and “very close to zero” by around 2040.

Huttner said in that program that the state’s temperature has increased by 2 to 4 degrees Fahrenheit over the past three decades or so, according to the state’s Climate Working Group comparing 1970 to 1997-2006 data. He discussed prospects that future Minnesota climate will feature larger snow falls and heavier rain events, spaced farther apart. He said the state can expect to experience a foot less snow by 2070 than it gets now, posing a risk that a smaller snow pack will lead to lower lake levels in “the land of 10,000 lakes.”

Huttner in that interview also pointed to “both positive and adverse impacts” of a warming Minnesota, which he said is the third most rapidly warming state in the U.S. (behind Arizona and Michigan, according to Climate Central). He said seven vehicles had plunged through Lake Minnetonka’s diminished ice cover in the past few weeks and pointed to more “insects and pests” in a warmer climate. On the positive side, Huttner pointed to prospects for a longer growing season for some crops, to an influx of new varieties of plants, some of which likely would be beneficial.

“Some good, some not so good,” Huttner said … “but change.”

Huttner in that interview also discussed “climate resilience” measures being taken by companies such as Starbucks and Levi Strauss to put them in a better position to cope with climate change.

The Yale Forum and Minnesota Public Radio’s “Climate Cast” are launching a content-sharing partnership in which they will routinely select relevant materials to each other’s site and share information on story ideas and expert climate sources.