National Estuarine Research Reserve System
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Climate Change in the Great Lakes
Safeguarding our economy, environment, and quality of life

Climate change is already impacting the US Midwest with higher average temperatures, more frequent heavy downpours, decreased Great Lakes ice cover, and more frequent heat waves. Projected future climate changes in the region include a likely rise of another 5-10 degrees Fahrenheit by 2100, continued increases in winter and spring precipitation, decreased summer precipitation, and a possible drop in Great Lakes water levels. The region will likely face the greatest adaptation challenges along Great Lakes coasts and waterways, as this is where many significant economic and ecological impacts will occur as a result of a changing climate. While climate impacts will vary regionally, it is at the state and local levels where critical policy and investment decisions are made for the systems most likely to be affected– water, land use, energy, transportation and public health and natural resources, as well as important economic sectors such as agriculture, fisheries, forestry, manufacturing, and tourism. By factoring a changing climate into planning decisions today, communities and agencies can avoid future costs.

Three “Planning for Climate Impacts” workshops were held in 2011 in Cleveland, Ohio; Duluth, Minnesota; and Green Bay, Wisconsin. The workshops were designed to build local and regional climate planning capacity in the Great Lakes and adapted from a successful workshop model developed by the National Estuarine Research Reserve (NERR) System through its Coastal Training Program. The workshops were founded in science and targeted actions that can be taken to prepare and adapt to the anticipated impacts of climate change. The Ohio Coastal Training Program at Old Woman Creek National Estuarine Research Reserve and the Lake Superior National Estuarine Research Reserve collaborated with other regional partners to customize this workshop curriculum to address Great Lakes issues and the needs of planners and other professionals addressing land use, public health, stormwater, emergency preparedness, and natural resource management issues across the region.

Workshop materials and streaming video are available here:

Cleveland, Ohio Green Bay, Wisconsin Duluth, Minnesota
Date: August 10, 2011 Date: September 13, 2011 Date: September 22, 2011
Location: Cleveland Museum of
Natural History
Location: University of Wisconsin – Green Bay Location: EPA Mid-continent Ecology Division Laboratory
Contact: Heather Elmer
(419) 433-4601
Contact: Patrick Robinson
(920) 465-2175
Contact: Patrick Robinson
(920) 465-2175
Workshop Material and Streaming Videos
Coming Soon  Welcome, Overview & Introductions Welcome & Overview
  Climate Change Science and Impacts in Northeast Wisconsin Opening Remarks
  Fundamental Concepts in Planning for Climate Change Climate Change Science and Impacts in the Western Lake Superior Region
  Tools and Resources - Introduction to Vulnerability Assessment Economic Implications of Climate Change Impacts to Great Lakes Ports, Harbors, and Marinas
  Tools and Resources - Visualizing Climate Impacts Community Engagement and Addressing Barriers to Adaptation
  Next Steps and Closing Remarks Tools and Resources: Introduction to Vulnerability Assessment
Identifying Vulnerabilities in Your Community
Tools and Resources: Visualizing Climate Impacts
Brief World Tour of Climate Adaptation Projects

Workshop Sponsors

Funding for this project was received via President Obama’s Great Lakes Restoration Initiative. For more information on the Initiative and Action Plan go to

Financial assistance provided under award number NA09NOS4200139 from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, U.S. Department of Commerce through the Old Woman Creek National Estuarine Research Reserve, administered by the Ohio Department of Natural Resources, Division of Wildlife. The Old Woman Creek National Estuarine Research Reserve is part of the National Estuarine Research Reserve System, (NERRS), established by Section 315 of the Coastal Zone Management Act, as amended. Additional information about the system can be obtained from the Estuarine Reserves Division, Office of Ocean and Coastal Resource Management, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, US Department of Commerce, 1305 East West Highway – N/ORM5, Silver Spring, MD 20910.

Financial assistance was provided under award NA10NOS4190182 from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, U.S. Department of Commerce through the Ohio Coastal Management Program, administered by the Department of Natural Resources, Office of Coastal Management.

Last Updated on: Wednesday, August 08, 2012
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