Graham Sustainability Institute

New Ensemble of Models

Monday, April 25, 2016

The Great Lakes impact local and regional weather and climate in the region. However, processes responsible for producing lake effect and lake-induced modifications of weather are often poorly represented or missing from climate models. For example, many climate models represent the Great Lakes as a wet soil land type as opposed to large, dynamic, bodies of water. As a result, many of the widely used sets of climate model projections, such as CMI. Existing models use general climate circulation data to project future climate in a specific area. These models simulate a vastly different system than in the Great Lakes region. As a result, we lack valuable information to assist decision makers planning for the future.

In response to this gap between end user needs and the limitations of model-based data and information, GLISA is assembling a team of regional climate modeling experts, extension specialists, and local practitioners. This team will develop a Great Lakes ensemble comprised of multiple models. Project goals:

  1. Develop an evaluation framework. Apply this to several climate model data sets—including regional modeling efforts. This will provide a regional perspective on the quality of information coming from climate models.
  2. Apply a standardization framework to data sets. The ensemble will have a standard format to data sets, to assist with data analysis.
  3. Produce a suite of practitioner-based climate adaptation indices. Examples include information about heat, wet/dry days, extreme storm intensity. The indices will be available in several formats (e.g., raw data, maps, tables, and plots) for use in climate adaptation planning.
  4. Couple information from the ensemble about the future to GLISA’s widely used historical climatologies. Leveraging the new ensemble and existing GLISA climatologies will provide a comprehensive past-present-future analysis at the multi-county level scale (see

An expert group of scientific advisors have already helped shape the initial direction of this project through a meeting convened by GLISA. Initial efforts are focused on identifying what defines the highest quality models for the Great Lakes region to inform the development of a framework. Individuals and groups in the U.S. and Canada are engaged in this effort. The new Ensemble is intended to serve the entire Great Lakes basin and beyond.

Learn more: Great Lakes Climate Ensemble