Restoring the Health of the Green Bay Ecosystem Under a Changing Climate

Green Bay satellite image

Investigators

J. Val Klump, University of Wisconsin‐Milwaukee
Kevin Fermanich, University of Wisconsin‐Green Bay
Hector Bravo, University of Wisconsin‐Milwaukee

Additional Core Team Members: Paul Baumgart and Michael Zorn, UW‐ Green Bay; James T. Waples, UW‐Milwaukee; David Lorenz, UW‐Madison, Center for Climatic Research; Kenneth Genskow, UW Extension; Joe DePinto and Ed Verhamme, LimnoTech; William Hafs and John Kennedy, Green Bay Metropolitan Sewerage District; Keith Marquardt, WI DNR; Michael Finney, Oneida Nation; and Julia Noordyk, WI Sea Grant

Project Summary

The southern end of Green Bay, Lake Michigan experiences excessive nutrient loading from the watershed, resulting in hypereutrophic waters, the accumulation of organic‐rich sediments and recurring summertime hypoxia. Future climate scenarios project warmer and wetter conditions with shorter winters, reduced ice cover, increased runoff and frequency of heavy precipitation events, changes in wind speed and direction and an extended stratified period – all of which are expected to further drive hypoxic conditions in Green Bay.

Restoring water quality in Green Bay, and ultimately delisting it as a Great Lakes Area of Concern, requires a significant and sustained effort to reduce loadings, the cooperation and buy‐in of the large population within the watershed and resource agencies armed with science‐based predictive tools that will allow effective, adaptive management essential for restoration in the face of an uncertain future. This diverse project team will integrate existing watershed, biogeochemical and hydrodynamic models with downscaled regional climate scenarios to assess current conditions and future conditions and the efficacy of available strategies to mitigate hypoxia and restore beneficial uses.

The project engages managers and stakeholders in water treatment, soil conservation, land use, agriculture and watershed and aquatic habitat resource management. A key output of the project is a Management Analysis Tool that includes web‐based visualizations, tables, figures and other information that managers and stakeholders can use to visualize nutrient loading and Bay responses to climate change, land use trajectories and management and restoration actions.