ClimateThe effects of climate change on freshwater and estuarine systems include a range of ecological, economic, and social impacts. To maximize benefits from these systems, we must improve our understanding of climate change and our ability to adapt to a variety of potential impacts.

Water Center efforts are helping communities and decision makers understand the impacts of climate change and develop realistic strategies for mitigating on-going water resource problems. To do this work, the Water Center works closely with the Graham Institute’s Climate Center, which provides historic and projected climate data for a wide range of applications. See: Climate Center

We support research that:

  • Improves coastal planning in light of climate change. Researchers are exploring shoreline physical and ecosystem dynamics and conducting fiscal impact assessments to support local planning and climate change adaptation efforts in Michigan communities. Methodologies and lessons learned are incorporated into local planning and training resources, which will be available to other coastal planning professionals throughout the Great Lakes region.
  • Predicts how Great Lakes ecosystems might respond to climate change. Models are helping researchers understand how predicted warmer temperatures and more variable precipitation will exacerbate issues such as harmful algal blooms and are engaging end users in discussions about strategic restoration and improved land management.
  • Develops strategies for evaluating climate change readiness. The NERRS Science Collaborative is working with estuary reserves in the United States to test and enhance a framework for assessing how well coastal communities are preparing for climate change. Researchers are working with reserve teams and community partners to determine what “success” might mean for coastal communities, and jointly developing useful indicators and metrics to help guide planning.