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Chicago, Climate Change And Weather: Your Questions Answered

What Does The UN Climate Report Mean For Chicago?

A wave splashes along Chicago’s lakefront
A wave splashes along Chicago's lakefront. Manuel Martinez / WBEZ

By now, you’ve likely heard about the major report on climate change released in August 2021 by the United Nations. Scientists warn that global climate change is accelerating, and that limiting the impact will require immediate, drastic cuts in emissions.

Atmospheric scientist Dr. Scott Collis said the message for our area is consistent with previous research: Chicago and the Midwest are likely to get hotter and wetter. “The more warm you make air, the more moisture it can suck up,” said Collis. “This leads to more severe rainstorms.”

That could have a variety of effects on life here, according to Illinois state climatologist Dr. Trent Ford. He said there could be increased risk of heat exposure and flooding. Plus, warmer winters could help invasive species move in, and make disease-causing insects like mosquitoes and ticks more prevalent.

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