Adapting to Climate Change in Minnesota: 2017 Report of the Interagency Climate Adaptation Team

This report summarizes observed and projected climate impacts in Minnesota, describes Minnesota state agency activities that are helping to adapt to climate change, presents statewide climate adaptation indicators, and provides recommendations for future state action and interagency collaboration. This 2017 report updates and expands on Minnesota’s Interagency Climate Adaptation Team (ICAT) 2013 document - Adapting to Climate Change in Minnesota.

The two primary climate change impacts projected for Minnesota include winter warming and increased extreme rainfall; while heat waves, drought, heavy snowfall, and severe thunderstorms are also expected to increase in frequency and severity. Some currently observed and anticipated impacts of climate change are detailed in the report along with their secondary impacts, such as changing seasonality and longer term ecological changes, and substantial effects on public health, community infrastructure, environmental quality, and natural resource-based economies.

Minnesota state agencies participating in ICAT are implementing many programs to address climate change. The bulk of the report explores the advancement of climate adaptation programs and practices that state agencies are currently undertaking. Here are some examples from each agency's climate progress:

Minnesota Department of Agriculture - offers assistance (financial, emergency response/cleanup, and advisory) to producers who are experiencing damage and losses to crops, livestock, and structures; potential water, soil, food, or other contamination; and other catastrophic events that can result from climate change.

Department of Commerce - maintains the state’s energy emergency plan, coordinates with Minnesota’s utilities on restoration of service during or after emergencies, including weather-induced outages, and deploys a Consumer Response Team to assist with disaster recovery situations through its Insurance Division.

Department of Health - coordinates the Environmental Public Health Tracking Program which provides environmental health surveillance data on a variety of topics related to climate change such as air quality, asthma, drinking water quality, heart attacks, and heat-related illness. Heat related illness data, for example, are being used to inform efforts to protect vulnerable populations from extreme heat events.

Department of Military Affairs completed a vulnerability assessment of all owned facilities and installations to determine susceptibility to the impacts of climate change; and then began the process of integrating climate change considerations into installation and organizational level plans.

Department of Natural Resources issued Operational Order 131 (Climate Adaptation and Mitigation in Natural Resources Management) in 2014. This high-level Commissioner’s directive requires all DNR divisions to develop climate guidance and performance measures to assess internal progress on the integration of climate data and information into projects, programs, plans, communications, and training.

Environmental Quality Board provides a public forum for discussion of state environmental policies (including climate change), encourages public engagement, and facilitates interagency collaboration.

Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA) created an internal Climate Adaptation Team (MCAT) in 2013 for the purpose of advancing climate adaptation through collaboration between the agency’s divisions and programs. MCAT prepared the MPCA Climate Adaptation Strategy in 2014. The MPCA also launched Minnesota GreenStep Cities in 2010, to help cities achieve their sustainability and quality-of-life goals.

Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Management incorporated climate change and adaptation into the 2014 State of Minnesota All-Hazard Mitigation Plan.

MN Department of Transportation - MnDOT - is committed to addressing climate change adaptation in their statewide vision for a multimodal transportation system that “is flexible and nimble enough to adapt to changes in society, technology, the environment, and the economy.”

Board of Water and Soil Resources’ is focused on using current climate change science and climate adaptation solutions to protect Minnesota’s natural resources - including agricultural protection, wetland conservation and more. 

Metropolitan Council’s Community Development division provides resources for communities working to integrate climate adaptation strategies into local comprehensive plans.


Based on current agency progress and expected climate impacts in Minnesota, ICAT developed priority Recommendations for Action for next steps:

  1. Build greater resilience to extreme precipitation.
  2. Identify opportunities to strengthen the climate resilience and health of vulnerable populations of Minnesotans across state agency programs and through cooperation with local governments.
  3. Increase focus on preserving natural and restored terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems and habitat to increase resilience of wildlife and native plants.
  4. Strengthen agricultural water management efforts to increase resilience to climate change impacts.
  5. Increase focus on managing climate impacts in cities, towns, and other population centers.
  6. Strengthen our climate information infrastructure to support climate adaptation practices.


A 4-page summary of this report is available at


Publication Date: May 2017

Author or Affiliated User:

Related Organizations:

  • Minnesota Interagency Climate Adaptation Team (ICAT)

Resource Category:

Resource Types:

  • Policy analysis/recommendations

States Affected:

Go To Resource