At the Graham Sustainability Institute, our dedication to academic excellence for the public good is inseparable from our commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion. Our mission of engaging, empowering, and supporting faculty, staff and students to foster sustainability solutions includes ensuring that each member of our community thrives. In response to the University’s renewed commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion, the Graham Institute developed a five-year plan to address how we will ensure that each member of our community has full opportunity to thrive.
The health of the Great Bay Estuary is strongly influenced by stressors from across the watershed. Seven rivers flow into the estuary, which is recessed 15 miles from the Atlantic Ocean. While science and case studies clearly demonstrate the value of vegetated buffers along these rivers in promoting a healthy estuary, New Hampshire does not yet consistently or effectively use buffers to protect the Great Bay Estuary. This project will enhance stakeholder capacity to make informed decisions on the protection and restoration of buffers around the Great Bay Estuary by addressing the following question: What are the options for addressing the challenges to effectively protect and restore buffer zones around New Hampshire’s Great Bay? The project will support strategic agency and nonprofit investments; inform strategies for outreach professionals to work with towns on water quality improvement, habitat protection, climate adaptation, and nonpoint source pollution control; and lead to new research questions.
In estuaries worldwide, the loss of salt marshes and oyster reefs has been alarming, especially along high-energy coastlines. To dampen boat wake and wave stress, mitigate erosion, and restore oysters, managers are using more natural bank stabilization techniques—often referred to as living shorelines—adjacent to salt marsh edges. These efforts have been largely unsuccessful in achieving coastal management goals under the most destructive, high-energy conditions. This project will test the efficacy of a new strategy for protecting coastal habitat in high-energy environments. A research team will integrate engineering and ecological approaches by deploying “gabion-breaks,” a hybrid method for building living shorelines to protect and restore coastlines. Over three years, boat wake and wave energy, oyster reef development, and salt marsh edge movement will be monitored along reaches of shoreline with and without gabion-breaks. The team will measure their success in protecting and enhancing coastal habitat. The project team will incorporate their findings into training activities for restoration practitioners and coastal managers as well as interpretive exhibits for reserve visitors.
Climate change will significantly affect coastal habitats as sea levels, storms, erosion, and water quality change. However, the impacts on different habitats in different locations will vary, and it is not clear how coastal managers should best protect vulnerable habitats such as marshes, seagrass beds, and dunes. A more complete understanding of risks could help coastal managers prioritize actions that could enhance the resilience of coastal habitats. A new tool has been developed, the Climate Change Vulnerability Assessment Tool for Coastal Habitats (CCVATCH), to help land managers, decision makers, and researchers develop conservation management, and restoration plans for coastal habitats. This assessment tool identifies primary sources of vulnerability to assist with prioritizing coastal habitat management actions. As part of this project, four estuarine reserves in New England will conduct assessments of their areas, demonstrating the utility of the tool to support adaptive management in response to climate change. This fact sheet provides an overview of the project, supported by the National Estuarine Research Reserve System (NERRS)
In the most comprehensive study of Line 5 oil spill impacts publicly available, Dave Schwab presents three potential levels of oil discharge, measured in barrels (bbl), each containing 42 US gallons of oil, including 5,000 bbl, 10,000 bbl and 25,000 bbl in the report. Schwab simulated 840 hypothetical spill cases.
Research scientist David Schwab simulated 840 hypothetical spill cases. In the most comprehensive study of Line 5 oil spill impacts publicly available, Schwab presents three potential levels of oil discharge — measured in barrels (bbl), each containing 42 US gallons of oil — including 5,000 bbl, 10,000 bbl and 25,000 bbl in the report. Schwab simulated 840 hypothetical spill cases. More than 700 miles of shoreline in Lakes Michigan and Huron and their islands are potentially vulnerable to an oil release in the Straits. This summary provides an overview of the key findings, based on the full report, Statistical Analysis of Straits of Mackinac Line 5: Worst Case Spill Scenarios (March 2016).
This summary report presents key results of a study to identify potential options for managing agricultural phosphorus loads and lessening future Harmful Algal Blooms in Lake Erie. The research team applied multiple watershed models to test the ability of a series of land management scenarios, developed in consultation with agricultural and environmental stakeholders, to reach the proposed phosphorus loading targets.
This fact sheet describes a new collaborative research project facilitated by the U-M Water Center. This study will model the nutrient dynamics within the watersheds that drain into the St. Clair and Detroit rivers. The planned modeling approach is designed to characterize Detroit River nutrient loads to Lake Erie and then compare the efficacy of different management options. A project advisory group has been assembled to provide feedback on the policy context, planned research approach, and potential information products. For more information, see project web page.
Following a national pattern, Michigan’s honey bee populations are declining rapidly. Since 2005, 30% of all honey bee colonies in the US have been lost each year, a condition known as Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD). Because honey bees pollinate nearly all of the fruits, vegetables, and nuts grown in Michigan, this population decline is emerging as a significant threat to the state’s food production.