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Climate Change Impacts on Illinois Natural Resources

The dangerous impacts of climate change are being felt around the world. The burning of fossil fuels, coupled with deforestation and other factors, have caused average temperatures to rise quickly and has led to other climate changes. These impacts are only expected to get worse.

While the earth’s climate has changed in the past, these changes usually occur over thousands of years, not decades. Rapid climate change does not allow humans, animals, and plants time to adapt.

Different geographical regions face different threats from climate change. In Illinois, the climate is significantly warmer and wetter. In the upcoming decades, we are likely to continue to see more frequent heat waves, warmer summer nights, increased precipitation in the winter and spring, and drier summers. These changes will harm everything from the economy to public health to our natural habitats (Wuebbles et al. 8).

Click on the buttons below to learn how Illinois’ climate is changing both seasonally and annually:

Learn how IL’s average temperatures and extreme heat events are increasing due to climate change

Learn how climate change is affecting the amount and intensity of the rain

These climate changes are impacting Illinois natural resources - our waters, lands, and habitats. Click on the buttons below to learn about these impacts and what the Illinois Department of Natural Resources (IDNR) is doing to address them. 


As we conclude our review of the effects of climate change on Illinois natural resources and the work currently being done at IDNR, it is important to remember that people are our most valuable natural resource. We, and each of these natural systems are interconnected. What happens to one natural resource impacts the entire ecosystem, which also impacts us. The impacts of the rapidly changing climate on Illinois’ natural resources, ecosystems and people can be devastating. Animals, trees, plants, insects, and microorganisms have intrinsic value and should be protected for that reason alone. It is in our interest to protect these resources because they are vital for our health and survival.

We invite you to join IDNR in protecting our natural resources from the negative impacts of climate change. Learn about the new initiatives now being implemented by IDNR as part of the 2022 Climate Action Plan (CAP)