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University of Michigan, Michigan State University award grants for Great Lakes climate change research

ANN ARBORUniversity of Michigan scientists and their colleagues at Michigan State University have awarded six grants to organizations across the region for projects that will help decision-makers adapt to climate change and variability in the Great Lakes basin.

The grants were awarded by the Great Lakes Integrated Sciences and Assessments Center, a federally funded collaboration between U-M and MSU. GLISA researchers study issues related to climate change and variability in the Great Lakes basin and how the region can respond to climate-related risks, such as potential damages from changes in long-term temperature and precipitation patterns.

"Climate change is expected to have significant impacts on the Great Lakes region, and it's important for us to understand and prepare for them," said GLISA program manager David Bidwell, a research fellow at U-M's Graham Sustainability Institute. "These projects are laboratories for learning best practices for making decisions informed by climate science."

In addition to the grant awards, GLISA researchers recently posted a new set of white papers focused on potential impacts, vulnerabilities and adaptation options related to climate change and variability in the Midwest.

"These papers were prepared at the request of the U.S. Global Change Research Program and examine how climate change could affect water resources, forestry, biodiversity, transportation, energy, agriculture, tourism and recreation, and the region's coastal systems," said Donald Scavia, GLISA co-leader and special counsel to the U-M president for sustainability. "These assessments are critical, not only to the U.S. national climate assessment, but also to aid regional adaptation planning."

The reports are available at

The GLISA grants total about $231,000. Researchers at U-M and MSU will support the projects by providing information about historical climate in the region, as well as projected climate changes and their potential impacts. Social scientists will track the projects to identify best practices for making climate information more usable for decision-makers.

Details of the grants were finalized Oct. 30 at a GLISA team meeting in Ann Arbor. The one-year grants, which range in size from $10,000 to $50,000, were awarded for the following projects:

  • "Adapting to climate change and variability: planning tools for Michigan communities." Lead investigator: Claire Layman, MSU Extension. Climatologists predict that the Midwest will become warmer and wetter, with increased temperature variation and heavier precipitation events. This project team will collaborate with Michigan communities to determine vulnerabilities, strengths and knowledge related to climate change, so that the communities can be resilient in the future by incorporating adaptation strategies into local land use master plans.

  • "Assessing and communicating risks from climate variability for the Michigan tart cherry industry." Lead investigator: Nikki Rothwell, Northwest Michigan Horticulture Research Station. This project will compile weather and climate information to provide the cherry industry with reliable adaptation resources and strategies. Research results will help the industry make choices concerning risk mitigation and resource appropriation and will foster an understanding of climate variability and extreme weather events.

  • "Development of an indicator suite and winter adaptation measures for the Chicago Climate Action Plan." Lead investigator: Martin Jaffe, Illinois-Indiana Sea Grant College Program. This project will formulate climate change indicators for local officials and planners to assist in more effective and efficient winter climate change adaptation decisions. It will complement strategies contained in the Chicago Climate Action Plan.

  • "Climate information to support vulnerability and risk assessment for the Great Lakes basin municipalities." Lead investigator: Chandra Sharma, Toronto and Region Conservation Authority. This project will create access to credible, locally relevant climate data for several communities near Lake Ontario in the Region of Peel, one of the most populous and urbanized areas of the Canadian Great Lakes basin. The Toronto and Region Conservation Authority will recommend specific strategies and practices relevant to the regions studied.

  • "Making climate-resilient communities through a watershed approach." Lead investigator: Rebecca Esselman, Huron River Watershed Council. Current efforts to create climate-resilient communities within the watershed involve understanding various climate scenarios, identifying best management practices and analyzing case studies on adaptation strategies. The project will build on these tools to broaden the geographic participation of the watershed, support participants with priority tools and strategies, and conduct an in-depth case study to develop adaptive capacity in the basin.

  • "How sensitive are agricultural best management practices and models to climate change? Framing key issues and uncertainties with expert opinion." Lead investigator: Kimberly Hall, The Nature Conservancy. This project will assess the vulnerabilities of current best management practices related to climate change to improve the efficiency, effectiveness and transparency of agriculturally focused conservation practices in the Great Lakes basin.


Contact: Jim Erickson
University of Michigan

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