Graham Sustainability Institute

Cities Climate Series

Great Lakes Fact Sheets

A variety of climate adaptation strategies have been implemented throughout the Great Lakes region. Climate scientists provided historical climate data and worked wtih municipalities to assess climate risks, such as flooding and increased heat and aging infrastructure. Key factors considered by many city leaders include specific risks to vulnerable populations, emergency response, and public health. Lessons learned from interacting with these cities are summarized in the fact sheets below.

Ann Arbor skyline

Ann Arbor 

Located in Southeast Michigan, the City of Ann Arbor is a leader in sustainability and environmental planning. Known as tree city, Ann Arbor has a total population of 113,934 spread over 27 sq. miles, and is home to the University of Michigan. Average per capita income in Ann Arbor is $30,498 USD.

Download the Ann Arbor Climate Factsheet PDF)

Columbus skyline


Columbus is facing increasing heavy precipitation events, possibly leading to greater flood risk and reduced water quality, and drier and hotter summers. Columbus also faces increasingly frequent water issues, including flooding events and drinking water contamination from algae and nitrates. City leaders are actively addressing climate adaptation measures and have charged the Columbus Green Team, Climate and Energy Working Group to develop adaptation and mitigation measures.

Download the Columbus Climate Factsheet (PDF)


Located in Southwest Ohio, the Dayton leaders are innovative. Strong regional partners and a can-do spirit are the building blocks of climate change adaptation efforts. The City has a total population of 141,527 spread over 57 sq. miles. Average per capita income in Dayton is $16,702.

Download the Dayton Climate Factsheet (PDF)


Located in Southeast Michigan, the City of Flint faces is located along the Flint River. The Imagine Flint Master Plan is focused on making the City sustainability and better able to address climate change efforts. The city has a total population of 102,434 spread over 34 sq. miles. Average per capita income in Flint is $14,910 USD.

Contact the Flint Climate Fact Sheet (PDF)


Located in Eastern Ontario on the Northeast shore of Lake Ontario and at the headwaters of the St. Lawrence River, the City of Kingston aspires to become ‘Canada’s Most Sustainable City.’ The city will be addressing climate change impacts through mitigation and adaptation in its Climate Action Plan. The city has a total population of 123,363 spread over 450 sq. kilometers. Average per capita income in Kingston is $31,370 CAD.

Download the Kingston Climate Factsheet (PDF)

Minneapolis on the Mississippi


Minnesota is the fastest-warming state in the continental U.S. during the winter, with temperatures and overnight low temperatures contributing the most to the rapid warming (1970-2012, NOAA). City leaders are adjusting infrastructure to accommodate a growing population, and more severe temperatures and precipitation events.

Download the Minneapolis Climate Factsheet (PDF)

St. Paul

In 2015, St. Paul secured a grant from the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency to develop a strategic climate change Resilience Framework. Part of the Framework includes increasing green infrastructure to improve storm water management. Other aspects of the Framework focus on improving communication about how to reduce the effects of climate change on city residents, especially more vulnerable populations.

Download the Saint Paul Climate Factsheet (PDF)

Thunder Bay

Located in Northern Ontario on the north coast of Lake Superior, Thunder Bay is a leader in sustainability and climate change adaptation planning. The City has a total population of 108,359 spread over 447 sq. kilometers. Average per capita income in Thunder Bay is $31,182 CAD.

Download the Thunder Bay Climate Factsheet (PDF)


Located in Northwest Ohio on the shores of Lake Erie, the City of Toledo identifies climate change as a matter of environmental, economic, and health concern. The city has a total population of 287,208 spread over 84 sq. miles. Average per capita income in Toledo is $18,758 USD. More information on trends in the climate of the Toledo region over the last forty years can be found on GLISA’s website.

Download the Toledo Climate Factsheet (PDF)


From 2011-2014, the Kresge Foundation supported, and the Graham Sustainability Institute supported the the Great Lakes Adaptation Assessment for Cities effort to develop fact sheets and other materials.