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Jeff Andresen

Jeff Andresen: Climate and weather are related but different


Jeff Andresen talks with Kirk Heinze

Jeff Andresen is an associate professor of geography at Michigan State University and state climatologist for Michigan.  48 of the 50 states have state climatologists.

"We're responsible for providing climate-related information to the general public," says Andresen.  "We collect and archive data and make it available to the public, and there's a research component where we work with MSU and other universities around the state."

Andresen says there is a subtle but important distinction between weather and climate.

"They essentially look at the same variables like temperature, relative humidity and wind speed, but the emphasis is on the time," Andresen says.  "In weather we're primarily looking at short periods of time like minutes, hours or days.

"In climate we're looking at the longer-term statistics and averages as in decades.  The major distinction isn't what we're looking at but the time interval over which we're looking at the variables."

Andresen says that by any measure this spring in Michigan and in the Midwest has been unusual, and he says it's one of the worst he can recall in terms of the amount of area impacted and the magnitude of delays in getting crops in the ground.

Andresen says Michigan has recorded 200 to 300 percent more rain than normal since mid-March and that it's a race against the clock for the state's agriculture industry, too.

"For many crops grown in Michigan with corn at the top of the list, the longer we go without planting as we move into late May and June the odds of seeing a bumper crop decrease significantly."

Andresen says that in the atmospheric science community there is widespread agreement that humans are impacting climate.

"Without question we're seeing the world become warmer; that's really not for debate anymore," he says.  "The question is why.  Is it natural variability or can we attribute it to human activity?

"The majority of science suggests that, yes, humans are having an impact.  The debate is how much impact."

Please click on the arrow above to hear Andresen's Greening of the Great Lakes conversation with Kirk Heinze.

Greening of the Great Lakes airs each weekend on News/Talk 760 WJR and around the state on the Michigan Talk Network.

Please "like" Greening of the Great Lakes on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

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