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Updated 11 October, 2003

US National Assessment of the Potential Consequences
of Climate Variability and Change
Region: Great Lakes


For additional information, see the Midwest Mega-Region


Student Reading Book
See also the Great Lakes paper for Educators



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Material from the Great Lakes Region Assessment Group

Media Coverage of Great Lakes Overview

21 June 2002.  Bloomington, Minnesota.  Climate Change and Terrestrial Ecosystems of the Great Lakes Region: The Potential Impacts and What We Can Do (workshop). Sponsors: U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, National Wildlife Federation, Michigan State University, and the Great Lakes Regional Climate Change Assessment Team. Contact Jeanne Bisanz.  Tel: 248 851 2316.  Online registration available.

Related Articles from the National Assessment's Newsletter, Acclimations.

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A workshop was held at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, May 4-7, 1998 as part of the series of US Global Change Research Program (USGCRP) regional climate change workshops. This series of workshops is seen as a first step in a U.S. national assessment of the potential consequences of climate variability and change. The central purpose of the workshop was to bring together individuals with different backgrounds and expertise to address the challenges that will accompany future climate variability and climate change for this unique region.

The Great Lakes region is geographically and climatologically unique. Because the Great Lakes themselves constitute 95% of the nation's fresh water supply, many of the concerns regarding the effects of climate change and variability are water-related. The workshop focus included the following sectors: climate, water ecosystems, water resources, economy/commerce, agriculture, infrastructure, land ecosystems, human health, and governance/education. Participants were asked to explore how current day stresses might be exacerbated (or ameliorated) by future climate change and variability (e.g., floods, storms, drought, heat waves). The workshop served as a scoping exercise to begin to identify stakeholders, issues, and possible coping strategies. The workshop also serves as a first step towards building a sustainable community.

Issues for Analyses

The Assessment considered a limited number of key sectors that are critical in the Great Lakes region. Five major areas were included in the regional assessment: Agriculture, Water Resources, Water Ecology, Land Ecology, and the Quality of Human Life. The focus was on addressing environmental and socio-economic impacts due to climate changes, recognizing that some of the current stresses in the region are complicating factors.

Strategy for the Assessment

The Great Lakes Assessment effort had a two tier assessment strategy and addressed "what people care about." A Level II assessment involves a compilation of existing studies and an opportunity for stakeholders to supply additional information. A Level I assessment involved the use of GCM output, other climate change scenario information, and results from previous impact studies - for most sectors, an overlay approach was used. The results from each sectoral assessment is described in case studies and detailed chapters in the assessment document. The assessment report is available via the web.

Principal Investigator Peter Sousounis, Michigan State
Coordinating Federal Agency U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
Agency Representative John Furlow, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
Key Issues
  • Agriculture
  • Water Resources
  • Water Ecology
  • Land Ecology
  • Economy
  • Human Health
  • Climate

Assessment Team 

  • Peter Sousounis, Program Director, Michigan State
  • Jeanne Bisanz, Assistant Coordinator, Michigan State
Jeffrey Andresen, Michigan State University
H.H. Cheng, University of Minnesota
Joe Ritchie, Michigan State University
G. Alagerswamy, Michigan State University
Ken Kunkel, Illinois State Water Survey
Julie Winkler, Michigan State University
Emily Grover, University of Michigan
George Albercook, University of Michigan
David Stead, Center for Environmental Studies, Economics & Science (CEPES)
J.D. Lindeberg, Center for Environmental Studies, Economics & Science (CEPES)
Robert Gray, University of Michigan
Mark Wilson, University of Michigan
Land Ecology
Michael Burger, University of Michigan
Dan Brown, Michigan State University
Margaret Davis, University of Minnesota
Terry Root, University of Michigan
Water Ecology
David Allan, University of Michigan
Art Brooks, University of Wisconsin
John T. Lehman, University of Michigan
John Zastrow, University of Wisconsin
Water Resources
Frank Quinn, Great Lakes Environmental Research Laboratory (GLERL)
Brent Lofgren, GLERL
Thomas E. Croley II, GLERL
Raymond A. Assel, GLERL
Anthony J. Eberhardt, Buffalo District, Corps of Engineers
James R. Nicholas, USGS, Lansing, Michigan

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