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Once rare in Minnesota, opossums have been rapidly moving north.
Winter is losing its bite
With winter losing its bite, life in the Frozen North just isn't the same
By Deane Morrison
From M, spring 2007
When Minnesota ice fishing tournaments are canceled for lack of ice, you know it's a mild winter-again. Mark Seeley, a University meteorologist and state climate history expert, says the change in winter is for real. "Although we can always find warm winters, we can't find a string like the last nine," says Seeley, author of Minnesota Weather Almanac. The changes are in line with predictions by models of global warming. Based on average temperatures, January 2006 was the warmest since 1846, and December 2006 tied for fourth warmest in state history. That's a far cry from December 1983, the coldest of the 20th century.
So that's an
The nonhuman residents of Minnesota change with the climate
As winters shrink and the climate warms up, state populations of many animals and plants are shifting:
>>Opossums. North America's only marsupial has been moving rapidly north, turning up in roadkills throughout the Upper Midwest.
>>Birds. Cardinals, once unseen in Minnesota, now live on the North Shore and in Canada. The Carolina wren and the blue-gray gnatcatcher have also made themselves at home in our state. Loons may be migrating back earlier, and may--possibly--stick around if lakes remain ice-free. But, says the American Bird Conservancy, climate change could rob Minnesota of 36 bird species while adding only five. Many of the losses will be warblers of the northern forests, which are threatened by climate change and other factors.
>>Insects. More bean leaf beetles and European corn borers will survive our winters, which bodes more damage to soybean and corn crops.
>>Gardeners may wonder if plants adapted to USDA hardiness zone 5 can now be grown in parts of Minnesota long rated zone 4. The answer is unclear. If you want to experiment with zone 5-rated plants, go ahead, but try an inexpensive perennial such as a Korean spice viburnum, forsythia, peony, or iris. Don't risk $300 on a Japanese maple or fruit tree. The USDA hardiness zones are undergoing revision.