For anyone who lives on or near the Great Lakes, we are about to get a great opportunity to learn a lot more about our climate and weather.  All you have to do is sign up for the next University of Wisconsin MOOC, “Changing Weather and Climate in the Great Lakes Region.”


You can sign up or learn more here.

A MOOC (Massive Open Online Course) is one of the ways that big universities are reaching out to make themselves available to the broader world.  This one has a localized focus, but many are more broad-based and intended for learners all over the world.

“Changing Weather and Climate in the Great Lakes Region” is a free, non-credit, four-week program that will begin February 23 and run until March 31.  It’s a chance to learn how the Great Lakes Region, with the influence of its five massive and stunning fresh-water lakes, combine to create exhilarating weather systems each season.images

Winters are cold and snowy; spring brings thunderstorms, heavy rains and tornadoes; summers are hot and humid and the transition to autumn paves the way for especially windy storms like the one that sunk the Edmund Fitzgerald, a massive iron ore freighter that sank in Lake Superior back in 1975.
Average temperatures in our area are getting warmer and extreme heat events are occurring more frequently. Total precipitation is increasing and heavy precipitation events are becoming more common. Winters are getting shorter and duration of lake ice cover is decreasing.

The MOOC will both share weather and climate data and focus on people and communities adjusting to these changes.

The four-week course will highlight a different season each week. Starting with winter, the first week will explore classic storm tracks, lake effect snow, extreme winter events and weather safety as well as changes in snow cover, temperature and ice in our area.  The second week’s class will focus on spring, and the water cycle in the Great Lakes Region.

Vonderauvisuals South Loop Lightning Storm

Vonderauvisuals South Loop Lightning Storm

The third week class will investigate summer air quality, heat waves and severe summer storms, and the final week will look at the sometimes turbulent weather of the Great Lakes Region in autumn, with attention to agriculture in the region and some ways individuals can mitigate and adapt to changing climate conditions.

Taught by Steve Ackerman, UW professor of Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences and director of the Cooperative Institute for Meteorological Satellite Studies (CIMSS), and Margaret Mooney, CIMSS’ director of education and public outreach,  this course consists of short two- to 12-minute videos highlighting a guest speaker each week, an overview of the weather for each season, observed changes and an interview with a regional expert.

There will also be a quiz each week and several interactive activities, as well as supplemental readings. Those wishing to obtain a Statement of Accomplishment will need to take the weekly quizzes and participate in the weekly discussion forums. Participants are also free to focus on the areas that most interest them and skip the tests and supplemental readings.

Participating-LibrariesWiLS (formerly, Wisconsin Library Services), has jumped on board and is going to be offering the opportunity to join in a discussion group each week at 21 libraries around the state.  You can find the library closest to you here.

I’m going to the discussions at Dodgeville Public Library at 2 p.m. on Fridays, February 26, March 6, March 13 and March 20, where Carissa Bunge, Education and Policy Outreach Specialist at the UW-Madison Cooperative Institute of Meteorological Satellite Studies (CIMSS) will be moderating.  Sustain Iowa County is going to provide refreshments.

“I love discussion groups,” says Dodgeville Public Library Director Vickie Stangel.  “They bring people together from many walks of life.  Most of us tend to discuss things with like-minded people, and you don’t hear that other side.  To think about a second side of an issue helps us grow.”Cow-MOOC

If you live in the Dodgeville area, hope to see you at the first discussion!


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s