Illinois State Water Survey - University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

State Climatologist Office for Illinois

Climate Change in Illinois - Background

Potential climate change as a result of human activities has received much attention as more greenhouse gasses and aerosols are introduced into the atmosphere and as land uses change. Indeed, global mean temperatures show an increase over time. The latest Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report (2007) concludes that "most of the observed increase in globally averaged temperatures since the mid-20th century is very likely due to the observed increase in ... greenhouse gas concentrations" as a result of human activities.

The National Research Council of the National Academies has released a number of climate change reports on their new America’s Climate Choices web site. One of the more readable reports is called "Understanding and Responding to Climate Change" from 2008.

What about Illinois? We know the climate in Illinois has changed in the past due to natural forces such as changes in the amount of solar radiation, ocean circulation, and volcanoes. Humans also may impact climate on a local, regional, or global scale, through changes in greenhouse gasses, aerosols (small particles in the air such as dust or sulfates from coal burning), and land use changes (change from prairie to agriculture to cities). Therefore, climate change is the result of complex interactions between natural and human-induced forces and remains a challenge for understanding future climate change.

The Water Survey is dedicated to monitoring and understanding climate change in Illinois. Results of these efforts can be found throughout the Illinois State Water Survey site.