Known as the “Twin Cities,” Minneapolis and Saint Paul are built around the confluence of the Minnesota and Mississippi rivers and are nationally recognized for their urban forests and bicycle trails. Communities and individuals in the region are experiencing increased temperatures, more extreme storms, intense flooding, and changes to unique ecosystems. Understanding key climate impacts and tree species vulnerability is critical to urban forest management and enhancing the benefits of urban nature for city residents.
Tree Species Vulnerability
Species distribution modeling suggests that the changing climate will shift suitable habitat and heat and hardiness zones for various tree species in the Twin Cities region. In the tree species list identified for the Twin Cities, 20 species have a low adaptability score, 73 species have a medium adaptability score, and 49 species have a high adaptability score. Climate change vulnerability of urban trees, including adaptive capacity and zone suitability under low and high emissions scenarios, is outlined in the tree species handout below.
Climate Change Impacts
Annual average temperatures in the Twin Cities increased by 3.2°F from 1951 to 2012, faster than national and global rates of increase. Key climate impacts in the Twin Cities region include increased temperatures, more frequent extreme heat events, increased drought risk, increased precipitation resulting in increased stormwater runoff and erosion, more frequent intense precipitation events, habitat loss and fragmentation, and amplified stressors such as invasive species. Flooding can be a prominent issue for navigation and riverfront communities, and increased river flows could exacerbate this issue.
The Twin Cities was recently selected as the second urban Long-Term Ecological Research (LTER) site in the nation for research examining how turmoil, socioeconomic disparities, pollution, habitat loss and climate change interact to affect the environment in the Twin Cities. Leslie Brandt, NIACS and U.S. Forest Service climate change specialist, is one of three Principal Investigators on this project. Learn more about the MSP LTER project in the Featured Resources below.