Federal funding extends Great Lakes climate adaptation research and engagement at U-M, MSU

October 12, 2021

Researchers at the University of Michigan and Michigan State University have been awarded $5.4 million from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration to continue their study of climate change and variability risks in the larger Great Lakes region for the next five years.

Funding for the Great Lakes Integrated Sciences and Assessments, known as GLISA, will be granted through the federal agency’s Climate Program Office.

GLISA researchers will continue their physical and social science programs to explore action-driven foundational research focusing on new and emerging issues in the region to better understand, assess and co-produce actionable climate knowledge. They will also scale up existing engagement tools and approaches, including a small grants program and a scenario planning process.

In addition, GLISA—established in 2010 as a federally funded collaboration between U-M and MSU—will begin new partnerships with the College of the Menominee Nation and the University of Wisconsin.

New co-principal investigator Thomas Kenote of the College of Menominee Nation’s Sustainable Development Institute will lead a project investigating tensions and impacts of tribal relationships with water resources through a pilot student exchange program between the College of Menominee Nation and U-M. This work will also develop a framework for organizations like GLISA to engage with traditional ecological knowledge in a manner that promotes engagement with Indigenous knowledge and experiences.

The University of Wisconsin team will build on the Great Lakes Ensemble, an inventory and evaluation developed by GLISA researchers to provide the highest quality climate information for the region. The Wisconsin team will generate sophisticated, state-of-the-art climate change projections for the Great Lakes using an advanced regional climate model that was developed to model hydrological extremes and the impacts of the changing lakes.

“I am very excited to address GLISA’s ambitious goals to support adaptive decision-making in the region in the face of growing climate change stressors,” said new co-principal investigator Michael Notaro of the University of Wisconsin.

Over the past 11 years, GLISA has partnered with more than 150 municipal, academic, tribal and nongovernmental entities. The team has worked closely with a network of researchers, partners and stakeholders in producing usable climate information to enhance Great Lakes communities’ capacity to understand, plan for and respond to climate impacts now and in the future. This includes developing a suite of publications, resources, decision support tools, maps and infographics.

“We have accomplished a lot in the last 10 years, but the impacts are piling up, as we saw by the repeated heavy precipitation events and resultant flooding across our region last summer,” said GLISA principal investigator and co-director Maria Carmen Lemos, a professor at the U-M School for Environment and Sustainability.

“By scaling up our successful approaches and devoting more resources to engaging traditionally under-resourced communities, we aim to accelerate the impact of climate knowledge in the region to inform sustainable and equitable adaptation action.”

GLISA will continue to focus on cities, tribes and agriculture. For the latter, MSU will co-develop and demonstrate adaptive management strategies to reduce weather- and climate-related risks in agricultural production systems.

“Promoting the use of scientific information about climate, customized for specific regions or sectors, is very useful. Through building these tailored resources collaboratively, our partners are able to readily apply this climate information into their decision-making,” said GLISA co-director and state climatologist Jeff Andresen.

GLISA has also recently scaled-up its research and engagement to work with programs outside the Great Lakes region, partnering with their counterpart Southern Climate Impacts Planning Program, Adaptation International, Headwaters Economics and Stanford University to serve 60 Gulf Coast communities in assessing vulnerability to extreme events through a National Academy of Sciences Gulf Research Program award.

GLISA, which is based at the U-M School for Environment and Sustainability, is one of 11 regional teams in the Regional Integrated Sciences and Assessments program under NOAA’s Climate Program Office.

Written by Conor Durkin


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